Kieran Foran slots seamlessly back in at Parramatta Eels: Michael Jennings

All smiles: Kieran Foran is back at training. Photo: Benjamin Tranter “To see him today at training, he looks upbeat and positive.” Photo: Benjamin Tranter

Kieran Foran is back at Eels training and according to teammate Michael Jennings, it’s as though he never left.

Foran has been given the green light to return to the NRL after a stint in a Queensland rehabilitation centre, allowed to train on Friday and play on Monday before he returns to continue receiving the treatment and support.

While he hasn’t trained with the team for three weeks, Jennings insists the Eels skipper hasn’t missed a beat and looks in a positive mind frame despite battling through some personal issues. “It was good to see him. He just slotted in at ease and trained just like he was there the other day,” Jennings said of Foran. “It’s good to have him back. All the boys are upbeat about it and everyone is pretty positive at the moment. We haven’t really sat down as a team and talked about it; individually he has spoken to everyone and seems fine so far.

“I spoke to him this morning, we had a coffee with a few of the boys and his head is in the right place. To see him today at training, he looks upbeat and positive. The only thing we can do is be there for him. Him being around the boys and this positive environment is good for him.”

The Eels take on the Melbourne Storm at home on Monday night, just a few hours after Blues coach Laurie Daley announces his team for game one.

While Broncos coach Wayne Bennett was critical of the Australian team announcement, which he believes affected the performance of his players earlier this month, Jennings says a likely Origin selection won’t be weighing on his mind during the game

“Yeah it will be a bit weird. If you make the team you find out on Monday or before the game,” Jennings said. “You don’t really think about injuries, you just go out and play the game. If it happens, it happens. You really can’t control that. I’m a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. You don’t go into games thinking about injuries or trying to save yourself. I think some players, being their debut, to actually make the Kangaroos squad you wouldn’t want to get yourself injured because it’s a real honour to play for your country. You would be a bit reserved, I’d say, but personally I wouldn’t do that.”

The biggest talking point out of Parramatta this week has been about the defection of Jarryd Hayne from the NFL to Fijian rugby sevens.

Eels winger Semi Radradra represented Fiji in sevens at a young age and has backed his former teammate’s decision to try his hand at a new sport, confident he can handle the transition. “I was pretty happy about his decision. I know Haynesy is a very talented player and hopefully he gets picked for the team,” Radradra said. “To have him in the team, the boys will be happy. Hopefully he brings something new. It’s going to be tough for him, but I know Haynesy he loves the game and hopefully he gets picked. Fiji sevens is very hard, everyone wants to play.

“But if there’s a spot for him, they’ll like him. He’ll bring something new for the boys. Haynesy suits any game. He’s played rugby league, went to NFL and wants to play sevens. It doesn’t matter. He’s a good talented kid.”

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Game watch

I WONDER if liking a game makes its flaws that much more apparent.

Stellaris gives you control of an empire as it explores the galaxy.

I am having a hard time deciding if the fact that I’m really enjoying Stellaris makes its faults stick out or if it really is just a game that is excellent in concept and design but lacking in content and gameplay.

Stallaris is a hybrid of 4X and grand strategy games from the creators of the Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis series.

You take the role of an interstellar species that has just discovered faster-than-light travel, as they expand across the stars, meeting new allies and threats.

It’s aimed at being more friendly to newcomers to the grand strategy genre while also providing enough depth for Paradox Interactive’s fans, and for the most part it succeeds.

However, AI and user interface issues, as well as a particularly dull mid-game, hold it back from being some sort of genre-breaking masterpiece.

However, I’m not that worried.

Paradox has already addressed many fans’ concerns, saying that a lot more content will be coming in free updates, which will coincide with DLC releases.

While some companies exploit people’s desire for more content in their game with superfluous DLC, Paradox is known for providing exceptional support for its games.

Crusader Kings II has 11 rich DLC packs, all reasonably priced and a myriad of smaller content packs.

If Paradox’s support for Stellaris is anything like it was for Crusader Kings II, then in a matter of months I’m sure we’ll see a very good game become a great game.

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Labor hits out at ‘unprecedented’ AFP raids

Mark Dreyfus: The raids are “extraordinary and unprecedented events”. Photo: ABC Lateline Up to ten plain-clothes officers raided a Brunswick house believed to be the home of a Labor staffer. Photo: Sky News

The federal shadow attorney-general has labelled the raids of Labor Party offices by the Australian Federal Police “unprecedented and extraordinary” in the middle of an election campaign and said the government has serious questions to answer about the matter.

In an interview with ABC’s Lateline on Thursday evening, as news of the raids was still coming to light, Mark Dreyfus said he was shocked to learn of the events in the second week of a federal election campaign.

“These are extraordinary and unprecedented events and the government has a great deal of explaining to do,” Mr Dreyfus said.

“I cannot think of any precedent for this occurring before … It’s a concern of course because we have a proud record in Australia of non-politicised security agencies.”

On Thursday, AFP officers searched the office of former communications minister Stephen Conroy, while later, two staffers of current communications spokesman Jason Clare were also set to be targeted, Fairfax Media reported. Labor says the raids are in relation to leaks about time delays and cost blowouts of the National Broadband Network (NBN) under the Coalition.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has strongly distanced himself and the Coalition from Thursday’s events, saying the AFP were operating entirely independently from the government.

“It’s entirely a matter for the AFP,” he said earlier. “As you know they operate entirely independently of the government so this is a matter for the AFP. The Labor Party know that as well as you and I do.”

Lateline host Tony Jones said he had received information that the government was only informed of the raids as they were happening, and the AFP said they were acting at the behest of the NBN, not the government. The host asked Mr Dreyfus whether he was suggesting that the AFP was acting in a political way or at the behest of the government.

“I am not saying that, Tony,” My Dreyfus said. “I am saying that all Australians are right to be concerned about the appearance of a raid being conducted on a Labor senator’s office and on the – potentially on the homes of Labor staffers in the second week of a campaign and because of the subject matter of these raids.”

“There’s guidelines that govern the way in which the Australian Federal Police is to carry out searches relating to parliamentarians and also guidelines relating to how the Australian Federal Police is to conduct itself in relation to political – politically sensitive matters.”

“They require that the government be briefed. We are in caretaker mode now. That should require that there be proper full-briefing of the opposition.”

Mr Dreyfus also appeared to question whether there was a double standard at play in the raids, saying there had been “more than 20 serious national security-related leaks under this Abbott-Turnbull Government and not one of them has resulted in an AFP investigation, still less raids conducted in this manner.”

The shadow attorney-general said Labor would be defending any staffers as they would parliamentarians in any criminal matters arising from the raids.

NBN Co confirmed to Fairfax Media on Thursday it was assisting the AFP with an “ongoing investigation”.

with James Massola

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Huge boost for harness club

Racing Minister, Martin Pakula, meets with Ararat Rural City councillor Gary Hull to discuss an upgrade to the Ararat Harness Racing Club. Picture: MICHELLE DE’LISLE

ARARAT Harness Racing Club has received a record grantfollowing anannouncement made byMinister for Racing, Martin Pakula,

Mr Pakula visited the club on Friday where he announced theVictorian RacingIndustryFund (VRIF) will contribute $24,000 towards new asphalt in the racing stalls.

The difference to the project, estimated to be worth a over$48,000 in total, will be split byArarat Harness Racing Club and Harness Racing Victoria.

Mr Pakula saidasphalting the stalls will mean a better race-day experience, particularly for the participants.

“It will mean less dust, but also means the club has to use less water,” he said.

“It’s a great fund (VRIF). It means we can return money into the racing industry, for infrastructure, for race-day attraction and for projects such as this.

“It’s great to be out here. It’s good to have a tour and see the money’s going to be put to good use.”

Ararat Harness Racing Club secretary, Michele Berry, said asphalting the stalls will make it easier for the club to clean as well as reducing the amount of dust.

“It will also improve the facilities that we have here,” Ms Berry said.

“It’s very good for the clubindeed.”

The club was notified early in 2016it had been successful in its grant application. Works on the stalls are expected to start in early June, and will take three weeks to be completed.

“For our racing calendar next year, everything will be a lot cleaner and easier,” Ms Berry said.

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