New mega deal for Burgess as he re-signs with the Rabbitohs

South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess

Since joining the South Sydney Rabbitohs, Sam Burgess has quickly become a fan favourite. 

Now, the cardinal and myrtle faithful will get to see him in action for even longer with his new deal until 2023.

Regarded as one of the best forwards in the game, Burgess’ re-signing is a huge boost for a Rabbitohs team on the rise.

Since debuting back in 2010 for the club, Burgess has played in 160 NRL games.

In that time, he was won an NRL premiership in 2014 and represented England on numerous occasions.

Burgess has had two stints with Souths so far; the first ending with a 2014 premiership, before he returned to Australia in 2016.

In between, Slammin’ Sam joined Bath in the Aviva Premiership and also played for England in rugby union.

Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold did not mince his words. In his eyes, Sam is the best forward in the game.

“In my opinion, Sam is the leading forward in our game,” Seibold said.

“He is an inspirational leader through his actions both on and off the field.”

Seibold went on to praise just how much of a help Burgess has been in Seibold’s first year as an NRL head coach.

“He’s been a tremendous help in my first year as a Head Coach along with ‘GI’ (Greg Inglis) and ‘Sutto’ (John Sutton),” the Bunnies coach continued.

“Since he’s been here at the Rabbitohs, he’s demonstrated how much Souths means to him and I’m very happy to know that he will finish his career here at South Sydney.”

The decision was an easy one for Burgess who labels himself as a Rabbitohs man.

“I’m a Rabbitohs man. It’s as simple as that,” Burgess said.

“The Club aligns with everything I’m about and my values, so it was an easy decision for me to extend my contract out to the end of my career.

“We spent a bit of time working out the contract as it is my last one, but Souths have always shown faith in me and I feel like I can repay that faith over the remaining years I have on the field.

With so many greats to have played for Souths over the years, Burgess wants to leave a similar mark like they have.

“I wasn’t interested in the player market or anything like that.

“I’m interested in leaving behind a legacy, being a small part of the fantastic history of this great Club.

“Players like John Sattler, Bob McCarthy, Ron Coote and Clive Churchill – they’re all remembered at this Club for what they have done. I love the history and I want to leave my mark as well.”

Shane Richardson also praised the re-signing of Burgess.

“Sam is one of the best players in the game, hands down, and with this contract extension he will play his entire NRL career with the one Club, the Rabbitohs,” Richardson said.

“He is an inspirational player for his teammates and an inspirational person to the broader South Sydney community.

“He has made a home here at South Sydney; he is bringing up his young, expanding family here in South Sydney; and he is set to go down in the Club’s history as one of its greats.

Promising back-rower Harawira-Naera released by Penrith to join Bulldogs

Penrith Panthers back-rower Corey Harawira-Naera

The Penrith Panthers have made a surprising decision to release Corey Harawira-Naerea from his playing contract in 2019 to sign with the Canterbury Bulldogs.

Recruited from NZ, Harawira-Naera was a part of the Panthers 2014 NYC premiership side.

With 44 NRL games at the Panthers to his name, the club admits the decision to let him go was difficult.

“The decision to allow Corey a release from his contract was a difficult one,” Panthers Executive General Manager Phil Gould AM said.

“Firstly, it’s a matter of future salary cap management for our club.

“Secondly, it is such a wonderful opportunity for Corey with his new club.”

There was nothing but praise for the Kiwi native, however, despite the confirmation of his release.

“Corey came to us from New Zealand as a teenager and developed through our junior pathways and house-parent program,” Gould continued.

“He is now a quality NRL regular with obvious representative potential.”

With room to improve in 2019, the signing of Harawira-Naera gives the Bulldogs an imposing back-row for the next four years.

“Signing someone of Corey’s calibre and potential is a great coup for the Bulldogs and comes on the back of a strong finish to our 2018 season,” Bulldogs CEO Andrew Hill said.

“Dean Pay and his coaching staff have helped develop some talented young players this year.

“The addition of Corey to the squad will add both quality and strength to our forward pack for next season and beyond.”

Parramatta thank ANZ

Tonight, the Parramatta Eels faithful get to say farewell to the 2018 season – one which has been painful majority of the time – but they at least get to say farewell to their temporary home at ANZ Stadium.

This year, the stands at Olympic Park haven’t been a very happy place for the blue and gold army as there haven’t been too many reasons to cheer.

When you look at the big picture, though, over the two years without a Parramatta Stadium due to the construction of Western Sydney Stadium, there have been many positive moments.

It’s easy to focus just solely on this season as a Parramatta fan however; across the two years, ANZ has proved to be a lovely home.

As difficult as it may be to look at the future excitedly, this venture at Olympic Park may prove to be very helpful to the blue and gold.

Obviously the two years have been very different years on paper for the team, however, when you look at the records, ANZ still acted as a prime home base.

In 2017, the Eels played a total of 15 games at ANZ stadium – including 1 final and 3 classified away games.

Of those 15, Parramatta won 8 home games, the 3 away games and only lost a total of 4 games, home or away.

This year, in 2018, things haven’t looked quite as positive but for ANZ the record still isn’t half bad. They played a total of 13 home and away games at ANZ for a record of 5 home wins, 5 home losses and 3 total away losses.

Combine the two seasons together and despite the dreaded wooden spoon on its way to Parramatta this year, the win percentage at ANZ is still positive even if it is only just.

This season, the Eels have not won an away game. It’s a statistic that is very concerning and worrying for the fans and club as a whole.

Away games are inevitable and if you can’t win away from home, you aren’t a real dominate force in the competition.

2019 is going to be a whole new ballpark for Parramatta, however. they do have a little bit of help in fixing their away slump.

Many fans have been scratching their heads or throwing their arms up in frustration at the recruitment at Parramatta, or lack thereof I should say.

They seem to be forgetting, though, that the team hasn’t just recruited Blake Ferguson, Junior Paulo and Shaun Lane – they’ve also recruited a brand new stadium.

After two years away, Parramatta are finally returning home to Parramatta. They have a brand new stadium and as exciting as all of the new features are, the greatest benefit is the home ground advantage again.

This is their home. They won’t be sharing it with any other rugby league team like the 3 (occasionally 4) teams who have had to share ANZ.

Fans will have to travel to Parramatta and enter Parramatta’s territory to verse the team which proves to be a real benefit for teams. What Parramatta also has on their side now is a backup home.

Fans have become accustomed to traveling to ANZ. They’ve figured out the best time trains and favourite food or drink vendors.

They’re used to the parking lots or the walk around the stadium to the station.

It’s become a part of their overall football experience as a fan so flocking to ANZ for the 3 or so away games against the Dogs, Rabbits and potentially Tigers won’t be an issue at all.

In a way, they’re like bonus home games.

Who knows what will happen with this game in 2019.

If this season has proven anything, it’s that anything can happen so there’s no real point super-analysing sides before the season has even started.

However, one inevitable is that Parramatta have a new home. They may physically farewell ANZ tonight against the Roosters but mentally, they’ve still got ANZ on their side next year.

Panthers prove they’re still the real deal

Not only did the Penrith Panthers keep the minor premiership race well and truly alive, they also killed a 5 year losing streak against the Melbourne Storm.

Having only won 1 of the last 18 games against the Storm, the boys from Penrith were in for quite a challenge however, the challenge appeared a little lessened with the late withdrawal of Billy Slater due to personal matters and Cameron Munster and Brodie Croft due to injury.

Despite the players lost, the Storm still put up quite a fight in front of their home crowd finding themselves first on the board early in the game through a penalty conversion from the skipper.

Just seven minutes later Josh Mansour responded with a powerful solo try which found him fighting off three Melbourne defenders to muscle the ball down for the first try of the night.

The tables turned for Mansour very quickly, however, when he left his team down to 12 men after he was deemed to have grabbed the arm of Justin Olam restricting him from possibly scoring a try.

The professional foul sanction proving quite costly to Penrith as their frustration quickly took over the game as displayed through a very uneven penalty count.

The Storm looked to capitalise on the advantage, over coming an initial no try, with a try to Felise Kaufusi who finally broke the Penrith defense wall which had stood so strongly until that moment.

Cameron Smith was sweet with the boot to convert the try and found himself lining up just 3 minutes later after a Tyrone Peachey tackle was deemed head high.

Uncharacteristically, the skipper missed the conversion but not even a full minute later the Panthers found themselves down to 12 men again with James Tamou in the bin after repeat penalties.

Smith couldn’t miss two in a row and slot the goal sweetly to take his team’s lead to 6 points.

2 minutes before the half time siren rang and the Panthers pounced on a penalty conversion chance late in the half – this goal proving to be Nathan Cleary’s only successful shot at goal all night.

The second half looked to have started off bright with young debutant Scott Drinkwater crossing the try line only to have his moment denied due to an obstruction.

The Panthers jumped at the opportunity to level up the scoreboard and just minutes later, Mansour was over for his double after some individual excellence from Waqa Blake.

As time quickly ticked on, the Storm looked to be showing signs of weakness as they missed their star players who provide extra creativity in attack.

The Panthers were looking to load the points on with Blake getting himself on the score board this time off a perfectly weighted James Maloney kick. A kick which definitely cemented the importance of the veteran half in this team.

The two teams continued to tussle hard for the next 20 minutes with lots of near moments of brilliance – including a no try to Olam – but the Panthers, through Blake again, put the dagger into the Storm as he got himself a double.

The night wasn’t finished, though, with a new contender for try of the year going to Christian Crichton after he managed to acrobatically grab himself an intercept from Cheyse Blair to take the lead to 12.

Nathan Cleary’s boot was the only real concerning signs for the Panthers, keeping the Storm ever so slightly still in the game.

A 12 point lead quickly dropped to 6 through the young boy on the park. Amazingly, the debutant Drinkwater managed to score himself a try even after being denied in the first half and the Storm kept the faith alive at AAMI Park.

The Storm threw everything they had at the Panthers in the final minutes with some very near misses but some brilliant defence, particularly from Cleary and Regan Campbell-Gillard, granted the Panthers their 2 points.

Panthers coach Cam Ciraldo admits that he could not be prouder of his side’s performance.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” Ciraldo said.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

“Just the way they prepared all week gave us a real confidence coming down here.

“The way they hung in here tonight, I couldn’t be prouder of their effort.”

Still a chance to win the minor premiership if results go their way, Cam Smith admits that the Storm are lucky to even have a chance to win it.

“Winning the minor premiership would have been really nice, but if you look at the way our season’s panned out,” the Storm captain said.

“It’s quite a remarkable effort to be quite honest to have the Melbourne Storm sitting second and playing a game in the last round to wrap up the minor premiership.”

Player of the Match:

3. Waqa Blake

2. Josh Mansour

1. Scott Drinkwater

Rabbitohs notch big last-round win over Tigers

South Sydney Rabbitohs back-rower John Sutton

A hamstring injury to Sam Burgess has taken the shine off a huge South Sydney Rabbitohs win over the Wests Tigers.

With a chance to gain some momentum and make a statement heading into the finals, the Bunnies did just that.

Despite an average first-half, the second was where it all came to life as the Bunnies ran rampant against a poor Tigers side.

The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the cardinal and myrtle side as they move into second spot behind Melbourne.

Playing strongly, Burgess left the field just before the midway point of the second half but coach Anthony Seibold says he will be fine.

“Sam is fine. He could have gone back on towards the back end of the game but I just thought it was important to give him a spell – same with Greg. I brought Greg off early and then [Damien] Cooky with five or so minutes to go,” Seibold said.

“It’s just a matter of giving those guys a rest and I didn’t think they needed to go back on because of the scoreline.”

The Tigers were in the contest early and actually took the lead as veterans Benji Marshall and Chris Lawrence combined.

A trademark Souths scrumplay then saw Robert Jennings continue his rich vein of try-scoring form.

Tigers winger David Nofoaluma then hit back with a try of his own but from there, it was one way traffic.

Angus Crichton would burst onto a pass and cross the line to score an easy try.

Cody Walker then extended Souths lead before the break with his nifty skills and footwork.

It went further downhill for the Tigers, as Campbell Graham, Adam Reynolds, Thomas Burgess, John Sutton and Alex Johnston all got on the scoresheet.

The numbers did not lie, with Souths comprehensively dominating every statistic throughout the entire game.

Post-game, Wests Tigers coach Ivan Cleary again remained adamant that he would see out his contract.

“I have a contract here and I’ve said all that I’ve needed to say,” Cleary said.

“I get [that] people want to discuss it.

“I get that there’s an agenda about various things outside the game.”

Despite concern over his hamstring, Burgess says he will find a way to play for his team.

“I’m not the only one [hurting],” Burgess said.

“I feel good; I’m alright. I know mentally I can get myself up for a game.

“I’ll play next week 100 per cent. I know I’ll play.

“I’m not too worried about it.

“I’ll find a way to get on the field and do my job for the team.”

Player of the Game:

3. John Sutton

2. Cody Walker

  1. Angus Crichton

Influential Tigers duo Marshall and Farah sign on for one more year

Wests Tigers hooker Robbie Farah

Already Wests Tigers legends, Robbie Farah and Benji Marshall will go around for one more season after agreeing to new deals. 

Already inducted as life members of the club – the first two players to be handed this honour – fans will be pleased at the news.

Both debuted back in 2003 and won a premiership soon after in 2005, with Benji’s flick pass firmly etched in every fans’ mind.

Farah is the most capped Wests Tigers player in history with 255 games and Marshall has 221 games for the club.

With the decision made, Farah looks forward to his final season.

“It’s exciting to finally get it done,” Farah said.

“I wanted to take my time with the decision and I’m glad it’s done now.

“I want to embrace everything and take it all in now knowing it’s going to be my last year, and hopefully leave a legacy once I’m gone.

“I want to leave the club in a better place once Benji and I are gone, and I’m really looking forward to playing that role.”

Even after he departed the club initially to play for the St George Illawarra Dragons, Benji always wanted to return to the Tigers.

“It was always my intention coming back here to finish my career here,” Marshall said.

“I think it’s pretty special to start and finish my career at the same place, and to be able to do it with Robbie is something I never could have imagined happening.”

Like Robbie, Benji is excited to go around for one more season.

“You can’t get that opportunity to play again if you decide to retire and I didn’t want to have any regrets,” the Tigers legend continued.

I still feel like I have plenty to offer, so I’m just hoping that with a big pre-season and an off-season I can stay injury-free and contribute again next year.”

Wests Tigers five-eighth Benji Marshall

Hulking winger Maumalo signs new long-term Warriors contract

New Zealand Warriors winger Ken Maumalo

Fresh off re-signing David Fusitu’a, the New Zealand Warriors have their wing pairing for the long-term, now securing Ken Maumalo. 

The news for Maumalo is made even better on the back of he and his partner having their first child.

Having initially come into first-grade with some trepidation, the club has nurtured him and he is now a quality winger.

“It’s wonderful for us knowing we have Ken signed for another four seasons after this,” said Vodafone Warriors head coach Stephen Kearney.

“He has shown tremendous progress this season with his consistency and attitude.

Together with David, he gives us so much value at both ends of the field and has plenty of improvement in him.”

With 63 NRL games to his name in total, the recent Kiwi test winger is excited with his new deal.

“I’m so grateful to my family and to everyone at the club for the way they’ve supported me throughout my career so far,” said Maumalo.

“It’s a huge privilege to be able to play for the Vodafone Warriors.

“I owe them so much for giving me the opportunity and showing faith in me.”

Maumalo admits that his footy is better because he is more relaxed.

“I feel a lot better about playing in the NRL now,” the winger continued.

“I’m more relaxed and I am enjoying my footy.

“That’s the most important thing.”

Maumalo leads the Warriors in post-contact metres this season and is seventh overall, as the club are pleased to offer him a new deal.

“Ken is yet another wonderful young player who has come through our system,” Vodafone Warriors General Manager Brian Smith said.

“The coaching staff have worked hard to develop Ken into a valued first grader and he has responded.

He’s having a terrific season and richly deserves the security this long-term contract gives him.”

Sharks top four chances alive after big win over Knights

Cronulla Sharks back-rower Wade Graham

The Cronulla Sharks have put an emotional week behind them to move into the top four (pending other results) after a strong win against the Newcastle Knights.

The week started with all the controversy over Josh Dugan and Andrew Fifita and then with the terrible news about the passing of Lance Thompson.

Itwith a 38-12 demolition over a gallant Knights, making it eight wins in a row against the Novacastrians.

Young gun Kalyn Ponga being ruled before the match was always going to make it an uphill battle for the Knights.

When they did not manage to find touch from a first minute penalty, you had a feeling that it was not going to be a great afternoon.

Back-to-back penalties for the Sharks had them in great field position to strike early but the Knights defence held strong.

Another penalty to the Sharks gifted them a penalty goal, and Valentine Holmes made no mistake, giving them an early 2-0 lead.

It was an error-riddled opening twenty minutes for both sides, with a total of 10 errors between them.

Another Sharks penalty – their sixth in a row – had them in good field position when rookie and coach’s son Kyle Flanagan managed a great offload to Chad Townsend.

The half summed up the situation perfectly with a beautiful floating ball over the top to Josh Dugan who would score for the Sharks.

There was an extensive delay in play after a sickening head clash for Knights backrower Lachlan Fitzgibbon, which resulted in him being knocked out.

He would leave the field with a terrible head wound that would end his afternoon.

After the delay, Holmes converted the Dugan try to give the Sharks an 8-0 lead.

It was the Knights who would be next to score, after a crunching tackle from Sione Mata’utia caused a knock on from Wade Graham, and give the Knights the ball.

A kick on the last by Mitchell Pearce took a lucky deflection to bounce up perfectly for Nick Meaney to get the Knights on the board.

On the replay, however, it looked like young Meaney was lucky as it seemed like he may have bobbled it when putting it down.

Ken Sio converted the try and it was now 8-6 to the Sharks.

With the first half winding down, Aidan Guerra would be sin binned after one too many infringements by the Knights.

Chad Townsend again stepped up, and with another perfect floating pass over the top which would put Edrick Lee over in the corner.

Valentine Holmes again converted and it was a 14-6 half time lead to the Sharks.

This brought to an end a very sloppy half of football from both teams, with 13 errors in total (9 to the Sharks, 4 to the Knights) and 12 penalties (9 to the Sharks, 3 to the Knights).

The second half started the same as it ended for the Knights with another early error to give the ball back to the Sharks.

Again, it would be the Sharks who would score first; a great show of hands from Flanagan to Townsend who would link with Valentine Holmes.

He then delivered the final ball to Sosaia Feki to score. Holmes could not convert this time, and the Sharks had an 18-6 lead.

Thing were going from bad to worse for the Knights as they lost another playmaker in Connor Watson to a groin injury, and he would not return.

As the Knights have shown all season, they should never be written off.

A beautiful ball from Josh King sent Daniel Safiti  crashing over under the posts.

After a Ken Sio conversion, it was back to a 6-point game with the Sharks now leading 18-12.

Wade Graham would come up with a massive play charging down a Mitchell Pearce kick and giving the Sharks the ball in good field position.

When Matt Prior came up with a crucial offload, Holmes showed a ton of speed to burst through the line and get try number 19 for the season.

He then converted his own try and the Sharks lead 24-12.

With ten minutes left to play and defending their own line, the Knights gave away a crucial last tackle penalty.

It was deemed that Andrew Fifita was on the end of a crusher tackle and Holmes stepped up to convert the penalty and lead was now 26-12.

There would be two more tries for the Sharks to finish off the afternoon.

The first was a leaping double tap back from Josh Dugan to Edrick Lee to score his second of the afternoon, but they left the best for last.

Sosaia Feki made a bursting run down the sideline and in motion put a spectacular banana kick back into the middle of the field where Chad Townsend caught it and scored under the posts.

Departing winger Edrick Lee converted the try and gave the Sharks a convincing 38-12 victory.

Andrew Fifita bounced back after a tough week with a strong display, running for over 180 metres.

The Sharks will now be cheering on the Bulldogs, to hopefully hold on to fourth position going into the final round.

Player of the game:

Wade Graham (Sharks) – 3

Chad Townsend (Sharks) – 2

Andrew Fifita (Sharks) – 1

Second half resolve sees Storm snatch victory from Titans

Gold Coast Titans utility back AJ Brimson

In a tale of two halves, the Melbourne Storm found something extra in the second to record a narrow win over a spirited Gold Coast Titans side.

In what was Billy Slater’s last game in Queensland, it would be his opponents, the Titans, who came out the stronger.

With just 37 percent possession in the first half, the Storm failed to make the most of any chances they had.

The Titans, however, did not. AJ Brimson scored the first try of the match, slicing through off a Kane Elgey pass.

A further penalty goal then put the Titans up 8-0 and they seemed in command of the match.

Chances then ensued as the Storm spilled the ball close to the line before the Titans were denied courtesy of a try-saver from Josh Addo-Carr.

With the weight of possession, the Titans would have been ruing their inability to score further points.

The errors and penalties creeped into the Titans game and the Storm are a team that you do not give such luxury to.

The signs were looking ominous and in true Storm fashion, they pounced via Curtis Scott.

Scott ducked inside Titans centre Konrad Hurrell before beating Will Matthews to score and it was game-on.

Cameron Munster then flipped the game on its head when he went it alone, dummying three times before ducking through a gap.

The Storm took the lead for the first time when Smith slotted the conversion.

The win puts the Storm two points ahead of their nearest rivals with a game to play as they chase a third consecutive minor premiership.

Titans coach Garth Brennan was critical of his side’s inability to control the game and the possession.

“Game management is so important, and the players around Ash (Taylor) and ‘Elg’ [Elgey] need to help them out more,” Brennan admitted.

“There were times in the second half when we defended a set and got the ball back and we were just hanging on instead of showing some tough energy and actually doing something with the ball.

“We need to be finishing our sets better instead of just playing dumb football on the last tackle.”

Despite Brodie Croft playing his part in the Storm win, coach Craig Bellamy admits they are still undecided on who should play the halfback role.

“Brodie did a really good job last week and I thought he did a really good job today (against the Titans),” Bellamy said.

“We’ll have a look at today’s game and have a discussion with a couple of senior players and make a decision from there.

“It’s not an easy one without a doubt but we will do what we think is best for the team.

“The amount of footy those guys have played is not a lot, especially for that position.”

Player of the Game:

3. AJ Brimson

2. Billy Slater

  1. Cameron Munster

Rabbitohs minor premiership hopes take a hit with loss to Raiders

Canberra Raiders utility Blake Austin

It was a match the South Sydney Rabbitohs were expected to win but the Canberra Raiders had other plans. 

In their final home game of the season, departing trio Junior Paulo, Shannon Boyd and Blake Austin capped it off with a win.

The signs are starting to become worrisome for the Bunnies who have now lost three games in a row.

It was the Rabbitohs who started the brighter of the two sides; Cody Walker scoring first, slicing and dicing his way over to score.

The return of Greg Inglis seemed to galvanise the Bunnies troops and the captain would score, brushing off Joey Leilua to dive over.

An Adam Reynolds penalty goal from almost right in front then gifted the cardinal and myrtle faithful a 12-0 lead.

The Raiders would finally get on the board in the 30th minute when Michael Oldfield just reached a Josh Hodgson grubber before it went dead.

The momentum then began to shift in the second half in favour of the Raiders.

First, Jason Clark was sin-binned for the Bunnies for a professional foul.

This was soon followed by a second try to Oldfield, who thundered onto a Josh Hodgson pass and found his way over to score.

It just got worse for the Rabbitohs. Their next try came after a towering Blake Austin bomb left Souths fullback Alex Johnston wrong-footed.

The ensuing play saw Austin and Iosia Soliola combine, with the forward coasting over with ease.

Nick Cotric then made his presence felt, with raw power and nifty feet before planting the ball down to score.

A late penalty goal to Sam Williams and that was all she wrote, giving the Raiders a win in their last home game of 2018.

In the last two weeks, the Raiders have shown that they are capable of playing good footy.

Though if they want to get serious about finals footy, coach Ricky Stuart knows they need this sort of form much earlier.

“I’m very excited about the quality of football and the way we won over the last two weeks,” Stuart said.

“I know as a coach we’ve got that in us and we’ve got to get more of it for our fans and for us.

“But we’ve got to get more resilience and composure, which we showed is in us over the last two games.”

Anthony Seibold slammed his Rabbitohs outfit, particularly their consistent errors that denied them numerous chances to attack.

“The Raiders were outstanding last week, so we were prepared for their best,” Seibold said.

“I thought our effort areas were much improved from last week, I’m really disappointed with our performance today, but our effort areas were really high.

“From our point of view, it is just unacceptable to make continual errors, and then expect to win games at NRL level.”

Player of the Game:

3. Blake Austin

2. Michael Oldfield

  1. Josh Hodgson

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