The dramatic improvement in Joe Daniher’s goalkicking has come on the back of fanatical dedication to honing his skills, including a dawn training session at club headquarters on a day off.
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Daniher’s outstanding past month – during which he has kicked 17 goals in five games – has upped his market value as he prepares to re-sign with the Bombers, a deal expected to follow the finalisation of the new collective bargaining agreement.

The athletic big man’s set shot goalkicking has long been a point of concern, with the issue rearing its head in the Dons’ round six loss to Melbourne, a game in which Daniher kicked 1.6. Following that game, Essendon coach John Worsfold refused to publicly chastise the emerging star, suggesting that Daniher was putting in the work at training to improve his area of weakness, as well as his ruckwork and marking.

In the three games since, Daniher, 23, has kicked a combined 13.2, including 5.0 in a dominant showing against West Coast at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Daniher’s commitment to improving his craft was highlighted by an episode last week, when Bombers players made visits to country Victoria. Despite the day being free of training commitments for players, the Dons have confirmed that Daniher, goal sneak Orazio Fantasia and midfielder Zach Merrett turned up to train at around 7am before the players departed for their visits.

“They came in early because that was the only time to do some extras on that day,” Essendon forwards coach Hayden Skipworth told Fairfax Media.

Skipworth has been working closely with Daniher and said his work ethic could not be questioned, with Daniher, Merrett, Fantasia and captain Dyson Heppell among those who were regularly going above and beyond on the track. However, Skipworth said he was trying to keep Daniher on an even keel.

“He’s working extremely hard on all aspects of his game. His vision long-term is to be a really accurate goalkicker,” Skipworth said.

“He’d do probably three or four goalkicking sessions on top of his normal training throughout the week.

“I’ve just trying to be really consistent with Joey as far as not going over the top. The thing that I’ve been working with him on is just focusing on the processes, not the outcomes. Goalkicking varies from week to week.”

The Bombers and Daniher’s agent Nigel Carmody have remained tight-lipped about contract negotiations, even though there is little doubt Daniher will remain at the club where his father, brother and three uncles all played. Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro told a Bombers podcast last month that new deals for several players – including Daniher, Darcy Parish and David Zaharakis – were likely to be signed only once the new CBA was in place.

There is a feeling in the Daniher camp that a long-term deal of up to five years would provide the forward certainty, but that a shorter-term contract would likely mean more money, especially if his form continues in its current trajectory. Some at Dons have privately acknowledged that Daniher’s recent form spike means they will probably end up paying more for his services.

Another player agent suggested on Monday that Daniher should be hoping for at least $2.6 million over a three-year deal, taking the view that Daniher had added $150,000 a year to his worth with his outstanding football over the past month.

Daniher has kicked 134 goals from 79 games since making his debut in 2013. In 2015 he worked closely with Essendon great Matthew Lloyd on his goalkicking, a partnership that was discontinued.

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Peter Wallace has been ruled out of the State of Origin series opener, clearing the way for fiery Titans hooker Nathan Peats to make his NSW debut in game one.
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Wallace joined an extended NSW squad in Sydney on Monday morning and had scans and extensive medical treatment on an injured groin in a bid to prove his fitness.

Unfortunately for the veteran rake and for the Panthers, he now faces four to six weeks on the sidelines with a grade two adductor tear.

While Wallace will miss out on what would have been his first Origin match since 2009, it has opened the door for Peats to make his maiden Origin appearance ahead of incumbent Robbie Farah.

“He’s a guy that will fight for everything. He’s a guy that I’ve got a huge amount of respect for. I know he’s a professional and I know he prepares well,” Blues coach Laurie Daley said on Monday night.

“And you know what you’re going to get. Peatsy will get through a huge amount of work, he’ll be competitive, and he’ll give you everything he’s got.”

Peats is one of two debutants named in Blues coach Laurie Daley’s team for the clash against Queensland on May 31. Representative Jake Trbojevic also earned a spot on the bench.

Trbojevic made his Test debut for the Kangaroos in last year’s Four Nations tournament, forming a close relationship with fellow Blues forwards David Klemmer and Aaron Woods.

Sunday night’s call-up was a bitter-sweet moment for the Trbojevic family after younger brother Tom missed out on certain selection after picking up separate knee and ankle injuries just over a week ago.

Penrith’s Matt Moylan was called into the squad, which gathered in Sydney on Monday morning, as standby for the injured Josh Dugan.

However, the Cronulla-bound Dugan is expected to get the green light and take his place in the centres alongside Jarryd Hayne.

Hayne will make his return to the Origin arena after a two-year hiatus playing NFL with the San Francisco 49ers and rugby sevens for Fiji.

He is one of just five players – including Brett Morris, Boyd Cordner, Dugan and Woods – who featured in NSW’s rare series triumph under Daley back in 2014.

Hayne’s future will remain a topic of discussion throughout the Origin camp as he weighs up an option in his favour to remain at the Titans next season before deciding by the May 31 deadline, which coincides with the opening Origin game.

Morris, who has 12 Origin games to his name, returns to the Blues fold after missing last year’s series when a knee injury forced him out of most of the 2016 season.

At the start of the season, Morris was resigned to the fact his representative career was likely over, telling Fairfax Media he was comfortable with the likelihood that he wouldn’t wear the sky blue jersey again.

“That’s OK,” he said in February. “I feel I’ve had a pretty good rep career. So if it was to be that I never play rep footy again, I can hack that.”

Boyd Cordner is the new captain of the Blues following the retirement of Paul Gallen, getting the nod ahead of Woods and Josh Jackson.

James Tedesco hasn’t managed to recapture his old form in 2017 but Daley has placed his faith in the Tigers No.1 to do the job after an impressive maiden Origin series last year.

The Roosters-bound fullback will team up with Blake Ferguson and Morris as a back three combination to match up against Queensland’s Darius Boyd, Corey Oates and Dane Gagai.

The much-maligned Mitchell Pearce returns to the Origin arena after an off-field indiscretion cruelled his chances last season.

He will partner former premiership-winning Roosters halves partner James Maloney, who was one of the first players picked in Daley’s team weeks ago.

Woods, who overcame a hamstring injury to make his return for the Wests Tigers last week, has been given the all clear to play, despite just one game under his belt in the past month.

Controversial Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita retains his position in the Blues line-up, and James Tamou is the obvious omission.

Fifita has been called into the starting side alongside Woods, leaving David Klemmer and Trbojevic on the bench as part of a four-man front row rotation.

Jack Bird, who was impressive in his debut series last year, has pipped Matt Moylan for the utility position on the bench.

Moylan, Melbourne Storm prop Jordan McLean and St George Illawarra forward Jack de Belin will travel with the team to camp in Kingscliff as part of an extended squad.

NSW TEAM FOR GAME ONE

1. James Tedesco 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jarryd Hayne 5. Brett Morris 6. James Maloney 7. Mitchell Pearce 8. Aaron Woods 9. Nathan Peats 10. Andrew Fifita 11. Tyson Frizell 12. Boyd Cordner (c) 13. Josh Jackson

14. David Klemmer 15. Wade Graham 16. Jake Trbojevic ???17. Jack Bird

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A man has tested positive to HIV at a Melbourne clinic while participating in a trial of PrEP, an antiretroviral drug credited with preventing the spread of the disease.
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This has sparked fears in the gay community about possible resistance to the medication – particularly after rumours about the strain circulated on social media over the weekend.

However, it is not yet known whether the man has contracted a drug-resistant strain, or if something else is to blame.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a medication taken daily by HIV negative people, and when taken every day PrEP has been shown to reduce HIV transmission by up to 99 per cent.

Globally, hundreds of thousands of people use PrEP and there have only ever been two confirmed cases of infection with a drug-resistant strain of the virus by someone taking the medication correctly.

Both of these were reported in 2016, one in Toronto and one in New York.

In Amsterdam earlier this year, there was a third case of PrEP failure in a man following the prescribed course, through transmission of a drug-sensitive HIV strain, however this is still being investigated.

There has never been a confirmed case of HIV resistant to PrEP in .

It’s understood just over a week ago, a male patient on the trial tested positive to HIV at a Melbourne clinic.

On Monday, a spokesman at The Alfred confirmed researchers were “reviewing the clinical details of a man who has tested positive to HIV while being a registered participant of the Victorian PrEPX study.”

Another Melbourne man, who also uses the antiretroviral drug, said the case highlighted that there was still a risk with PrEP, even if it was small.

“This is not a silver bullet. It makes the risk real,” the man, who has requested anonymity, said.

But he said would continue to use the medication because it remained “the most persistent way to combat HIV”.

Doherty Institute director and infectious diseases physician, University of Melbourne professor Sharon Lewin said all people who start HIV treatment have a test for their own resistance to the drug before they begin the medication.

She said once researchers at The Alfred have determined whether the man had been correctly and consistently taking PrEP, the HIV virus itself will be analysed for resistance.

“In cases of someone testing HIV positive while taking PrEP, we would first take a detailed history to understand how PrEP is being taken and potential exposures,” she said.

“We would then look at the genetic code of the virus as this can tell us whether it is a drug-resistant strain, or a non-resistant strain. We would also look quite closely at drug levels in blood and the immune response to the virus, when the anti-body test became positive.”

About 3000 Victorians have enrolled in the PrEPX research study, which is examining how PrEP could reduce the rate of new HIV infections in Victoria.

Experts estimate 10 – 15 per cent of gay men in Sydney and Melbourne were using PrEP by the beginning of 2017.

There are up to 600 Victorians on the study’s waiting list.

Professor Lewin said PrEP was extraordinarily effective and there was still an urgent need to expand access to PrEP nationally.

“We closely track circulating strains of drug resistant virus in the community,” she said.

“On average 10 per cent of new diagnoses of HIV in Victoria are with a strain of virus that has evidence of drug resistance.

“I don’t think there is any reason for alarm here. PrEP works and any rare cases of failure need to be investigated fully so we fully understand why this can very rarely happen.”

PrEP is not yet listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, but will be considered in July.

A generic version of the antiretroviral drug, known by the name Truvada, costs about $1200 a month to buy in , but can also be bought on the internet for less than $100.

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Hurricanes make national mark at Tokyo 2020 camp EXPOSURE: Jake Robinson was one of five Hunter Hurricanes juniors that took part in a Water Polo camp called Tokyo 2020 in Canberra this week. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
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Matt Humby

Mitch Robinson

Bailey Sheather (far right)

Kate Hughes

TweetFacebook Hunter Hurricanes at Tokyo 2020 campPictures by Max Mason-Hubers, Marina Neil and Jonathan CarrollIt may be another three years away but five Hunter Hurricanes juniors hada taste of the 2020 Olympics in Canberra this week.

The Robinson brothers, Jake and Mitch, Matt Humby, Bailey Sheather and Kate Hughes have just wrapped up a six-dayToward Tokyoidentification camp at the n Institute of Sport.

National senior water polo head coachesElvis Fatovic and Sakis Kehagias oversaw the event, which involved training sessions both in and out of the water before a mini tournament that finished on Monday.

It doubled as selection trials for n junior and youth squads contesting overseas tours and world championships later in 2017.

* AUSTRALIANschoolgirls representative Dakota Thomas will return home to Kilaben Bay with a silver medal from theDigicel Punjas International Secondary School Netball Challenge.

The goal keeper was part of the national under-15 squad that lost Friday’s final 40-28 to Aotearoa Maori in Fiji.

They beat Auckland Samoa 35-31 in the semi.

* ALSOheading overseas on a School Sport tour is Floraville’sKy Willott and Maitland Rams pair Brad Paterson and Wade Harry.

The national under-16 hockey squaddeparted for Europe late last week with warm-up matches scheduled for Belgium and The Netherlands before a four-nation tournament in Germany.

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Darius Boyd. Photo: Getty ImagesDarius Boyd has won the battle for the Maroons fullback spot with returning superstar Billy Slater missing selection completely after the Queensland squad was announced in Brisbane on Monday afternoon.
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In what was undoubtedly the most difficult call for the selection panel and coach Kevin Walters, Slater will be a spectator for game one despite some sparking form since returning to the Storm from a long-term shoulder injury.

Bill Slater. Photo: Getty Images

In his absence, Boyd has put a stranglehold on the fullback jumper and there was no compelling argument for him to be shifted from his favourite position. Slater played some wing early in his career but specialists Dane Gagai and Corey Oates have been preferred on the Queensland flanks.

With retirement on the horizon, Slater may well have played his final Origin but anything can happen during the series and he would be the first called up should injuries force any sort of backline reshuffle.

But as it stands, Boyd’s powerful returns from fullback and ultra-consistent form at all levels of the game made him a lock at the back for the first instalment of the 2017 series.

Meanwhile, Boyd’s Broncos team-mateAnthony Milford is set to make his State of Origin debut with Jonathan Thurston next to no chance of overcoming a shoulder injury. Milford has been named in the starting line-up with Thurston included as 18th man to give himevery opportunity to prove his fitness.

Johnathan Thurston. Photo: Getty Images

“I believe it’s very unlikely that he’ll [Thurston] play but we’ll give him the chance to prove his fitness throughout the week,” Walters said onSky Sports’ Big Sports Breakfast.

“I don’t think he’ll be fit enough with his shoulder. We’ve got to keep in mind that this is game one of a three-game series.”

Wayne Bennett said he wouldn’t release Milford to Queensland if he was no chance of playing in Origin I.

Should Thurston miss out as expected, a number of Queensland’s leading lights will be missing. Both Matt Scott and Greg Inglis are out with injury, although Cameron Smith seems to be playing as well as ever after he helped steer Melbourne to victory over Souths on Sunday night in Perth.

Justin O’Neill. Photo: Getty Images

Justin O’Neill has been the beneficiary of selection loyalty and had retainedhis place in the centres, while Dylan Napa is one of the new faces in the side as the Rooster gets set to step into the Origin arena.

2017 Queensland State of Origin squad:1. Darius Boyd

2. Corey Oates

3. Will Chambers

4. Justin O’Neill

5. Dane Gagai

6. Anthony Milford

7. Cooper Cronk

8. Dylan Napa

9. Cameron Smith (c)

10. Nate Myles

11. Josh Papalii

12. Matt Gillett

13. Josh McGuire

14. Michael Morgan

15. Sam Thaiday

16. Aidan Guerra

17. Jacob Lillyman

18. Johnathan Thurston

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