Relieved Rooster: Second-rower Mitchell Aubusson. Photo: Jonathan CarrollMitchell Aubusson’s foray into grand final folklore might not be remembered forever.
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However, had the final result been different, Aubusson’s decision to tackle Jamie Lyon without the ball would have been spoken about long after he conceded a penalty try in what was a vital stage of this year’s premiership decider. The back-rower could afford to smile post-game after his side fought back to overcome Manly on Sunday night.

“It was pretty nerve-wracking there,” Aubusson said of watching the incident on the big screen. “It probably wasn’t the best thing to do. I did whatever I had to do to try and stop a try. I tried to pull out of it. That sort of stuff isn’t normally in my game. In the heat of the moment, it happened.”

Aubusson became just the third player to concede a penalty try in a grand final, joining St George Illawarra’s Jamie Ainscough and Parramatta’s John Peard. While Ainscough’s swinging arm on a falling Craig Smith handed Melbourne their first premiership in 1999, the other two didn’t cost their sides a grand final.

St George’s John Bailey was awarded a penalty try in the replayed 1977 grand final after he was tackled by Peard, much like Lyon was, as he attempted to regather a kick.

Aubusson supported the video referees’ decision to award a penalty try to Lyon, who was chasing a Daly Cherry-Evans kick three minutes after half-time, with Manly snatching the lead.

“It was probably fair that they were awarded a penalty try,” Aubusson said. “I sort of tried to forget about it. It is what it is and the boys were supportive and picked me up. We got back into the game, I just couldn’t be happier. I know that I put the work in through the year and something like that is not in my game. It was something I knew I had to fight back from and all the boys helped me with that. When I went to lunge at him I then tried to pull out of it.

“I’m not relieved, just excited and happy. Not just about [the premiership] but it’s about the hard work we’ve put in since last October and the last eight years.”

Aubusson was among seven survivors from the club’s 2010 premiership loss to St George Illawarra. Ironically, the Roosters led 8-6 at half-time in 2010 and on Sunday. Aubusson said the said the pain of that premiership loss had now vanished.

“You would think about that game once or twice a year and think what could have been but to win just for the fans and our families and all the boys is sensational,” Aubusson said. “We’ve worked so hard, One thing Robbo [coach Trent Robinson] did say when he got here was that we were going to work harder than any other team. I felt we did that. He told us at half-time to go back to what we do and know and that we’ve been in this position before and that we can win from anywhere.”

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ADELAIDEHas Carlton’s Eddie Betts locked away to improve a forward line that will also feature Taylor Walker back next year. Shot down speculation on Monday that it wanted to lure GWS ruckman Jonathan Giles. Keen to get back into the early rounds of the draft — the Crows picks were stripped in the Kurt Tippett fiasco – and Ricky Henderson’s name has bobbed up in that commentary, while Shaun McKernan could also be leaving. Say they are up for the fight to secure Lion Jared Polec, but Port Adelaide is better placed with draft picks at the trade table. Keen to get a third party involved to get the Polec deal over the line. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 42, 60, 78, 96, 114
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BRISBANE LIONS Maybe has the most at stake. Jared Polec wants to go home to South Australia, and ruckman Billy Longer is keen on joining reigning premier Hawthorn. The Lions could demand the Hawks first-round pick for Longer. It seems they will pick up one returning Queenslander, though, in Richmond utility Luke McGuane. Sam Docherty and Patrick Karnezis will be seeking trades to Victorian clubs, and Elliott Yeo is poised to join West Coast on a three-year deal. Big decisions on Jonathan Brown and Simon Black. Committed on Monday to taking Jono Freeman as an Academy pick with its fourth-round selection (currently 59). Free agents: Simon Black and Jonathan Brown Draft picks: 7, 25, 41, 59, 77, 95, 113

CARLTON Has been busy. Lodged the paperwork to ship out-of-favour ruckman Shaun Hampson off to Richmond for a second-round draft pick. Have also tabled a four-year deal worth almost $3 million for free agent Dale Thomas and Collingwood are not expected to match. Is one of a number clubs with their eye on Heath Shaw, too, with the Mick Malthouse connection possibly a factor. Hawks small forward Shane Savage and Paul Chapman are also being considered to act as a replacements for Eddie Betts, who has gone to Adelaide. Free agents: Heath Scotland Draft picks: 12, 28, 29, 47, 65, 83, 101, 119

COLLINGWOOD Major change was promised at Collingwood and coach Nathan Buckley has acted. Veterans Alan Didak, Darren Jolly and Andrew Krakouer have all been told their time is up, and Jordan Russell is again on the move. Then the two big calls – set to let Dale Thomas walk to Carlton for a compensation pick, and Heath Shaw is also on the way out: the only question is where? Sydney’s Jesse White would be a great get, but Ricky Henderson (Adelaide) is also an option. Speaking of great gets, the Pies are also a contender for emerging GWS midfielder Taylor Adams, and that would be massive. Free agents: Dale Thomas Draft picks: 10, 27, 45, 63, 81, 99, 117

ESSENDON Not even close to a deal with the Bulldogs on Stewart Crameri. But the Bombers leading goal-kicker has already made up his mind to join the Dogs on a four-year deal worth up to $1.8 million. Expect the deal to go through eventually. Are handicapped because of the draft sanctions handed down after the drugs drama.Scott Gumbleton’s name also comes up this time of year. Has declared David Myers off limits, and says it wants Heath Shaw but knows a deal will be hard with no high draft picks to offer. Seems to have missed out on Nick Dal Santo. Travis Colyer has virtually agreed to a new deal. Free agents: nilDraft picks: 44, 62, 80, 98, 116

FREMANTLE All the talk centreing on James Podsiadly. The former Cat could be just what the Dockers need to launch its premiership challenge next year. Could take the second tall forward burden of Chris Mayne and act as a strong twin tower to Matthew Pavlich. For now, it’s a wait-and-see. Colin Sylvia, too, seems a perfect fit, having been locked away last week on a three-year deal. Alex Silvagni tipped to leave. Hawk Xavier Ellis could be another potential target. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 16, 33, 51, 69, 87, 105, 123

GEELONG Have cleared the decks, moving on Paul Chapman, James Podsiadly and Josh Hunt, while Joel Corey is still weighing up his future. Corey Enright has confirmed he will play on. Seems to be one of the front-runners to pick up highly-rated GWS midfield youngster Taylor Adams, along with Collingwood. He would be perfect for the Cats. The other interesting one is Heath Shaw. Travis Varcoe is reportedly being shopped around to feature in any possible deal for Adams or Shaw. Free agents: Joel Corey Draft picks: 15, 32, 50, 68, 86, 104, 122

GOLD COAST Has denied having any interest in Heath Shaw, despite the fact experienced bodies would help the Suns and his presence could release David Swallow to play in the midfield. Have hardly been mentioned throughout the trade and free agency circus. Sustained improvement of talented crop of youngsters the main priority. Have two picks in the top 20 that must seem attractive to rival clubs looking to deal. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 5, 18*, 23, 39, 57, 75, 93, 111

GWS Taylor Adams would be a huge loss. Could deal him to a club for an experienced player, which the Giants desperately need more of to get competitive next year. Heath Shaw could be one such player, and the Pies are keen on Adams. Shane Mumford will also help. He has agreed to sign on a three-year deal. Say they are open to dealing pick No.1, and thus the rights to key forward Tom Boyd. Could pick up a pair of Bulldogs, Daniel Cross and Dylan Addison to help bolster the list for 2014. Dylan Shiel is a required player, the club says. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 1, 9*, 19, 35, 53, 71, 89, 107

HAWTHORN No Buddy, no worries Hawks say. But the true value of Franklin to Hawthorn might not be felt until the games start next year, provided his deal with Sydney is legitimate. How much opposition focus did he take away from the likes of Jarryd Roughead and Jack Gunston. Billy Longer is the Hawks main target after No.1 ruckman Max Bailey retired over the weekend. The former No.8 pick has officially nominated Hawthorn as his preferred destination and the Hawks are confident. Are shopping around Xavier Ellis and Shane Savage has up to six clubs interested in him while the Hawks are open to trading Brad Sewell. Free agents: Xavier Ellis Draft picks: 17, 34, 52, 70, 88, 106, 124

MELBOURNE Have said pick No.2 is on the table and that must be tempting for rival clubs. Paul Roos knows the club might need another high-quality player that can make an impact now to regenerate hope at the Demons. Have lost Colin Sylvia, so that is another spot that needs filling in the midfield, which is the club’s main problem area. West Coast’s Luke Shuey is out of the picture, now, and they have expressed interest in Dylan Shiel and David Myers, but both are unlikely to happen. Another experienced ruckman might be handy, so Darren Jolly, a former Demon, comes into the frame. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 2, 20, 36, 54, 72, 90, 108

NORTH MELBOURNE Have committed its No.8 pick to taking father-son draftee Luke McDonald. The son of Donald McDonald comes as a ready-made flanker. The Roos are very keen on luring star Saint Nick Dal Santo. That would be a potential game changer for North, who are expected to surge up the ladder again next season. He would be an ideal player to complement Brad Scott’s running game. He can trigger a clause in his contract to make himself free agent. Key defender Luke Delaney could move to St Kilda, while midfielder Liam Anthony is also testing the waters. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 8, 26, 42, 61, 79, 97, 115

PORT ADELAIDE Wants to find a key forward and could throw up its first round pick to get it. The vibe around Ken Hinkley’s Power is good, and that was underscored last week when Richmond’s Matt White agreed to a three-year deal. Appears to be ahead of Adelaide in fight for homesick Lion Jared Polec. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 13, 30, 48, 66, 84, 102, 120

RICHMOND The Tigers policy of addressing weak points in their list and being bold enough to address them became clear again on Monday when it handed over its second-round draft pick for Carlton big man Shaun Hampson. He will give No.1 ruckman Ivan Maric more support and allow Ty Vickery to stay as a key forward and hopefully develop his game further next year. Paul Chapman is not in the Tigers plans, apparently, with the club confirming as much on Monday. Not interested in Heath Shaw, either. Lost Luke McGuane but could yet pick up Lion Patrick Karnezis. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 11, 46, 64, 82, 100, 118

ST KILDA Into North Melbourne’s Luke Delaney as the Saints continue their search for a badly-needed key defender. Nick Dal Santo seems likely to follow Brendon Goddard’s lead from last year and leave the Saints for a shot at a premiership at another club. Has already met with North’s leadership group, and is believed to be keen. The Saints have hosed down speculation that two of their other champions, captain Nick Riewoldt and Leigh Montagna, could be released to do the same. They will stay put. However defender Sam Fisher might be on his way to GWS. Free agents: Nick Dal Santo Draft picks: 3, 21, 37, 55, 73, 91, 109

SYDNEY So far the biggest winners out of free agency, landing the biggest fish in the ocean for the second year in a row. Although the massive nine-year contract to Lance Franklin still needs to be ratified by the AFL’s investigative unit. Buddy at Sydney will probably makes the Swans premiership favourites by the time March rolls around next year. Although there is a cost. Shane Mumford is gone and Jesse White looks certain to do likewise. And there is speculation even more Swans could depart if the club makes a play to off-load again to secure a high first-round draft pick. Free agents: nil Draft picks: 14, 31, 49, 67, 85, 103, 121 WEST COAST New coach Adam Simpson says Luke Shuey is not for sale. Andrew Gaff did not come on as expected this year, but has also drawn suitors. How does Simpson play his cards in his first trade period? The Eagles had plenty of injurie s last season and that, in part, held them back from achieving the success many predicted they would. Much like the Blues in 2012. Does he take the Mick Malthouse approach and have a look for a year, or does he get aggressive straight away? Brisbane’s Elliott Yeo looks to be one pick up already up his sleeve. Free agents: Dean Cox Draft picks: 6, 24, 40, 58, 76, 94, 112

WESTERN BULLDOGS Made a relatively bold play for Stewart Crameri, if the reported four-year, $1.8 million offer is accurate. It is typical of the Dogs, who have long sort medium-sized forwards during the trade period. Still work to do with the Bombers, but Brendan McCartney’s relationship with Crameri has proved crucial. Does McCartney, a former assistant at Geelong, have any pull with former Cats Paul Chapman or Josh Hunt, as well? Have moved on Daniel Cross and Dylan Addison’s future is unclear, although he finished the season strongly. Free agents: Dylan Addison Draft picks: 4, 22, 38, 56, 74, 92, 110

* Expansion club compensation picks

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Damien Oliver chose to return to race riding after his 10-month betting ban at a low-key meeting at Geelong on a quiet Friday in mid-September rather than at the more high-profile Moonee Valley meeting the next day.
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When asked why, his response was short and sharp.

”It’s the first day I could come back and ride, it’s what I do. I’m not into show business mate,” was his retort after he returned to scale following his victory on Lion of Belfort on his first ride back. He might not be into show business, but in the three weeks or so since his return to the saddle, he has stolen the spotlight.

Oliver has ridden half-a-dozen metropolitan winners, teamed up with some of the nation’s biggest trainers, secured the mount on one of the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup favourites, been suspended and also shown that his competitive edge – on the track and in the stewards room – has not softened during his enforced absence.

When you are very good at what you do, people tend to make exceptions, and there has been a sympathetic response to the fallen star as he rebuilds his career and reputation.

There will always be those who argue that he got off with a far more lenient sentence than he should have, given the career-ending penalties handed to other jockeys convicted on integrity charges in overseas jurisdictions.

The shadow over the champion jockey’s integrity will remain after he admitted to betting $10,000 on the favourite in a race in which he was riding another horse: that’s just the way things are in life when you commit a major offence and admit your guilt, statute of limitations notwithstanding.

Certainly leading trainer David Hayes was shocked at the vitriolic reaction on social media in mid-August when he revealed Oliver had been riding work at his Euroa property. ”From some quarters they were accusing Damien of being a cheat. I’ve got to say I was genuinely taken aback at the harsh criticism about the jockey,” Hayes said at the time.

And you don’t hit the ground running after a 10-month break with your tactical awareness, judgment of pace and balance seemingly even better than ever unless you are a freakish talent.

Given the forgiving nature of the racing business, where transgressions are forgotten quickly as the pursuit of the next big race win outweighs other considerations, Oliver has been able to step back into the limelight with relative ease.

Victory in a major race can mean a difference of tens of millions of dollars in a horse’s worth – if it is a colt and has a future at stud. Thus it was not surprising to see Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup contender Fiorente’s owners immediately going into a huddle in the Flemington mounting yard after their star performer had finished fourth in the group 1 Turnbull Stakes on Saturday. They were not happy with the ride Nash Rawiller had given the son of Monsun, making it clear they thought the jockey – himself a top-flight performer and winner of multiple Sydney premierships – had given their horse too much to do.

It quickly became clear they wanted only one man aboard on big race day – Oliver, for whom the ban appears to have been an opportunity to recharge his batteries, freshen up and come back with his focus renewed.

Rawiller is unlikely to be the last big-name rider to be ”jocked off” in the next few months if Oliver continues in his current form. He will be hopeful of adding to his group 1 tally on Saturday on Prince Harada in the Caulfield Guineas.

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Sydney assistant coach Leigh Tudor made a presentation to the Essendon board on Monday in an indication that he is considered a serious candidate to coach the club next season.
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Tudor, who worked under Mark Thompson at Geelong and is one of John Longmire’s main lieutenants, made his presentation to the full board as the Bombers weigh up the candidates for the senior coaching position during James Hird’s 12-month suspension.

The Bombers’ decision on the interim coach for 2014 is imminent, with an announcement expected by Wednesday. If an outsider, such as Tudor, is appointed rather than internal candidates Thompson and Simon Goodwin, that person would be expected to be offered a continuing senior role in the coaching panel once Hird returns.

Tudor has already been offered an assistant coaching position at North Melbourne.

While Thompson’s credentials as a two-time premiership coach speak for themselves – and he has recently indicated a willingness to fill the breach during Hird’s exile – the club is determined to run a rigorous process and canvass different options before making an appointment.

When he left Geelong, Thompson ruled out taking on another role as senior coach and has publicly expressed reluctance to fill in for Hird. But his most recent public comment suggested he had had a change of heart.

”I said that I’d help in any way,” he said on AFL 360 last week. ”If they want me to coach, I’d seriously consider it. I’m just worried about the club. Have I got my hunger back? I don’t know. We’ll find out.”

Hird had indicated that Thompson, who was fined $30,000 for his role in the Essendon supplements scandal, would be the ideal person to fill in.

Mark Harvey, an external candidate with a close connection to the club, has been touted as a possible replacement and is also understood to have spoken with the Bombers. He recently left his position as an assistant at the Brisbane Lions.

Goodwin filled in for Hird for the final match of the year and assumed some of the post-season duties of a senior coach.

Former Melbourne stand-in coach Neil Craig has also spoken with the Bombers, but sources believe he is more likely to be a candidate for a football department role. The Bombers also have to replace Sean Wellman, who has opted out of football.

Essendon is taking a similar process-driven approach to the appointment of a chief executive, with Ray Gunston acting as interim boss since Ian Robson stood down in May following the Ziggy Switkowski report into the supplements scandal.

The club board is believed to be canvassing other candidates in addition to Gunston, who has won points for his steadiness in a difficult and tumultuous period for the club.

Thompson and Goodwin are involved in the club’s trade period dealings, which are being largely handled by list manager Adrian Dodoro.

The Bombers’ coaching subcommittee is headed by board director Chris Heffernan and Gunston.

AFL Coaches Association chief executive Danny Frawley had initially been part of the selection process, helping to determine a job description and a list of candidates, but he has not been part of the interviewing process because it would conflict with his AFLCA.

Former Western Bulldogs and Richmond coach Terry Wallace helped to interview the candidates, before making a recommendation to the subcommittee and stepping aside.

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No matter what trouble David Warner has managed to land himself in, his talent has always been his trump card.
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It was his saviour during the Ashes, when his near double century in Africa rendered his nightclub fracas with Joe Root immediately forgiven and forgotten and saw him slot straight back into the team from which he had been exiled.

He could have used it chiming in again on Monday. In the circumstances a seven-ball duck at Bankstown Oval, where NSW was beaten by Victoria in a low-scoring Ryobi Cup affair by two wickets, was the last thing the Test opener needed.

Warner is back in the news for the wrong reasons, asked to explain to Cricket NSW chief executive Andrew Jones in a meeting set for Tuesday why he did not follow the state’s instructions and turn out for his new club Randwick Petersham on Saturday.

It is not the world’s most heinous cricketing crime. He won’t have a contract torn up over it, and he may not even be fined. In some ways he has found himself inadvertently caught up in a broader plot: the drive by the recently installed NSW administration to ram home the importance of grade cricket and stem its decline.

They are making a statement and, in the process, an example of Warner.

It is expected NSW bosses will on Tuesday also quiz him on suggestions that rather than field for Randwick Petersham against Northern District, he followed his own net and fitness sessions by attending Epsom day at Randwick racecourse on Saturday.

If it were not Warner it would probably barely rate a mention but after the year he has had – from the pre-Ashes scuffle with Root, to a highly publicised showdown with a leading journalist on Twitter – it is another off-field drama the 26-year-old could have done without.

A big score for NSW that might have taken the heat off eluded him on Monday, chopping the Bushrangers’ Scott Boland on to his stumps early enough in the morning that national selector John Inverarity had not even arrived.

The Blues slumped to 3-19 and then 6-85 on another slow Bankstown wicket, but Ben Rohrer’s steady 63 from 91 balls, following captain Steve Smith’s 47 from 73 balls, led them to a more respectable 9-171 from their 50 overs.

It was not enough as Victoria, via 82 from former captain Cameron White and 50 from new skipper Matthew Wade, reached the target with two wickets and 25 runs in hand, despite the form of Doug Bollinger (2-25), Gurinder Sandhu (2-29) and Josh Hazlewood (2-41).

Meanwhile, George Bailey’s slamming of the new Ryobi Cup format was followed on Monday with Victorian White issuing his own criticism.

The Bushrangers are leading the tournament, played entirely in Sydney in a month-long block, but White voiced concerns with the reduction of matches and the impact of the schedule – it will be followed by each team playing six straight Sheffield Shield matches – on the fitness of fast bowlers.

”You create extra space in the draw by playing this at the start of the season but then you still play six four-day games before December 12,” White said. ”That to me is a lot of cricket in a short space of time if you’re a fast bowler.”

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