'It's been phenomenal' – Tonga's Andrew Fifita talks about his special relationship with Christchurch

The Tongan wrecking ball says he has enjoyed giving back to the community on his visit to the city. Source: 1 NEWS

Cronulla veteran Paul Gallen ruled out of Sharks finals match against Storm

Cronulla will have to win their way to the NRL grand final without captain Paul Gallen after he was ruled out of Friday night's preliminary final against Melbourne with a shoulder injury.

The 37-year-old trained with the Sharks on Thursday and travelled to Melbourne with the team despite tearing tore ligaments in his shoulder during last week's one-point win over Penrith.

The Sharks had planned to give Gallen until midday on Friday to prove his fitness, but after further assessment on Thursday afternoon in Melbourne they made the call to end his race against the clock early.

However, they remain hopeful Gallen could return for next Sunday's grand final if the Sharks qualify.

"If it was a Sunday game I would say he'd be in," Sharks coach Shane Flanagan said earlier on Thursday.

"He definitely improved. He loves this club and has been there all his career. He'd do anything to get out on the field and get to another grand final."

Gallen's absence will come as a massive blow to the Sharks, who are already without fellow back-rower Wade Graham.

Gallen and Graham are among the best grinding players in the NRL, the exact style of play which the Sharks have used to beat Melbourne in four of their past five meetings.

The Storm had expected Gallen to play all week, and were still preparing as if that was the case in their final training session on Thursday morning.

Kangaroos forward Aaron Woods is now expected to come into Cronulla's starting side, while 166-game NRL veteran Joseph Paulo will join the Sharks' 17 for his first finals appearance.

Flanagan admitted Gallen would be difficult to replace.

"Gal is our captain and the way he plays is very similar to what we're all about," he said.

"He's tough and ruthless and he's our forward leader. Someone is going to come in and stand up and do the job, and hopefully as good as Gal."

Meanwhile, Josh Dugan is expected to overcome a shoulder injury to be fit to take his place on one wing.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 14: Paul Gallen of the Sharks is tackled during the NRL semi-final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium on September 14, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Paul Gallen of the Sharks is tackled during the NRL semi-final match between the Cronulla Sharks and the Penrith Panthers at Allianz Stadium. Source: Getty



Sam Burgess likely to play semi after NRL boss says investigation into sexting scandal won't be rushed

South Sydney star Sam Burgess appears set to play in Saturday's grand final qualifier despite being involved in a sexting scandal that the NRL integrity unit is investigating.

The Rabbitohs were rocked last week by a woman's allegations that a social media account owned by Burgess was used to communicate lewd video of two players to her in May.

There were fears the matter would result in a player being suspended from the rest of this year's finals series, including their preliminary final against the Sydney Roosters.

However, NRL boss Todd Greenberg said while the case is expected to be finalised as soon as possible, he would not be rushed into a decision on potential bans.

"We've made a consistent approach to these things, we've been doing it for a number of years now," Greenberg said on Thursday.

"We'll deal with the details and issues in the investigation, we won't make decisions on the run."

Greenberg refused to address speculation that the woman, who is believed to have initially taken her concerns to the club before going public, is refusing to be interviewed by the integrity unit.

"I'm not going to comment specifically on who's being interviewed and who's not," he said.

"But I will say to you is for us to be able to land at a conclusion and complete the investigation it requires us to try our very hardest to talk to as many people as possible.

"And that's what the integrity unit are doing at the moment."

It is the second off-field incident to embarrass the NRL since the end of the regular season, with Canterbury being fined for their ill-advised Mad Monday behaviour.

Greenberg admitted the damaging headlines have taken the gloss off what has so far been one of the closest finals series in recent memory.

"I'd much prefer to be talking to you today about what will be a full house in Sydney at Allianz Stadium to farewell what's been a great stadium, and a full house in Melbourne," he said.

"But I'm also a realist.

"I understand that, from time to time, issues will come on our table and you will judge us on two things: on the issue itself and how we deal with it.

"We've got a pretty strong track record in rugby league and (as) an integrity unit, to deal with those issues methodically, professionally, appropriately and then hand a decision."

Sam Burgess of the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Source: Photosport



Christchurch woman who built home for disabled brother 'astounded' at $23k consent bill

For years Kiwis have been putting up with council fees when building new homes, but one Christchurch woman thinks she has figures that shows it's getting out of control.

Liz Armon built a house for her retired, disabled brother David in south-east Christchurch – a one bedroom, open plan living house she wanted David to feel at home in.

The house cost $67,000 to build but then came Christchurch City Council's fees on top – an extra $23,000.

"I was absolutely astounded," Ms Armon said.

"Twenty-three thousand in total for consent costs when I had anticipated it being $1,500 after speaking to the council initially."

The hefty bill was made up of a development levy, consent fees, a flood level survey, with neighbouring Selwyn District Council carving some off the top as well.

"I can't understand why any council wouldn't want to support elderly people or families in need," Ms Armon said.

As it turns out, those main council taxes are made up of lots of smaller taxes for inspection fees, processing times and contributions for future parks and public transport in the area.

The council added the $12,500 development levy Ms Armon paid was actually a bargain with levies for houses in other subdivisions "typically" $20,000 to $30,000.

We take a look at a Christchurch woman’s eye-watering council bill. Source: Seven Sharp

Christchurch Hospital sees seven people suffering severe affects of synthetic cannabis in 24 hours

Seven people have been treated in the last 24 hours at Christchurch Hospital's Emergency Department who're thought be be severely affected by synthetic cannabis.

In a statement the hospital says the emergency department has seen a number of people suffering from "probable severe synthetic cannabis toxicity, with seven people treated in the past 24 hours and three needing admission to the Intensive Care Unit".

Paul Gee, Emergency Medicine Specialist, Canterbury DHB says there has been a noticeable increase in patient attendances at the Emergency Department for side effects of synthetic cannabis use. 

He says some have minor adverse effects but others are more serious. Last month a man suffered a cardiac arrest after using synthetic cannabis but was successfully resuscitated.

Toxicology analysis has identified the substance taken by the patients as either AMB-FUBINACA or AB-FUBINACA.

AMB-FUBINACA has been linked to numerous deaths in the North Island during the past year.

"There are dangerous synthetic drugs available and taking them could seriously harm or kill you," Dr Gee said.

Drug and addiction help can be accessed at Tuhauora, Christchurch’s Central Coordination Service chchaod@odysseychch.org.nz or call the Alcohol and Drug Helpline 0800 787 797.

They're calling for the drug to be classified as Class A – the most harmful and dangerous.
Source: 1 NEWS