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The Ashes: Steve Smith ruled out of Third Test at Headingley

The Ashes: Steve Smith ruled out of Third Test at Headingley

20/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29378275

Star Australian cricketer Steve Smith has been ruled out of Thursday’s  Third Ashes Test at Headingley after failing to recover in time from his delayed concussion.

Coach Justin Langer told media on a cold Tuesday morning at the Test venue that Smith, 30, had not been cleared to play in Leeds by team doctor Richard Saw.

Smith was the first player in international cricket to be substituted out of a match after he was struck on the neck by a searing Jofra Archer bouncer on day four of the Lord’s Test.

Smith was removed from play as a precaution, and resumed his innings after passing a series of concussion tests.

Medical staff assess Steve Smith after he struck in the neck at Lord’s. Photo: Getty

But after waking up groggy and with a headache on the morning of day five, Smith was substituted under a new concussion replacement rule by Marnus Labuschagne.

Cricket.com.au reports that under Cricket Australia’s concussion protocols, Smith was required to show no symptoms of concussion, gradually return to full activity, pass routine concussion assessments and face fast bowling in the nets to ensure his reaction speeds had not waned.

Dr Saw will continue to assess Smith regularly and remains in sole control of his gradual return to activity.

“The doc has been doing a fantastic job so far on tour with everyone. He had a busy week,” teammate Travis Head said.

“I know he’s looking after him [Smith] pretty well – he is in good hands.”

Smith has been integral to Australia taking a 1-0 series lead, scoring 378 runs – 142, 144 and 92 – in his three innings.

Smith has two weeks to be ready for the fourth Test in Manchester, which starts on September 4.

There is also a three-day tour match at Derby from August 29 to 31.

Labuschagne, who starred on Sunday with 59 to ensure Australia held on to draw the second Test, looms as the favourite to take Smith’s place in the XI.

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Knights set to part way with Brown: report

Knights set to part way with Brown: report

20/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29377127

Newcastle are reportedly set to part ways with coach Nathan Brown at the end of this NRL season.

Despite reassurances in recent weeks from club hierarchy that Brown would lead the side in 2020, the Newcastle Herald is reporting he will exit the club.

The Knights have lost seven of their past nine games to sit in 10th spot despite a star-studded roster which was expected to be a finals contender.

Brown last year signed an open-ended performance-based contract with the club after lifting them off the bottom of the ladder, following three straight wooden spoon seasons, and into 11th spot.

The Knights, led by the likes of Kalyn Ponga, Mitchell Pearce and David Klemmer, looked like premiership contenders midway through the season.

Following their round 11 win over the Sydney Roosters, they found themselves in the top four.

But a recent six-game losing streak brought them back down to earth and appears to be the impetus behind Brown’s reported exit.

-AAP

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Ross Lyon sacked as Fremantle coach

Ross Lyon sacked as Fremantle coach

20/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29376488

Ross Lyon has been sacked as Fremantle coach.

Fremantle notified the senior coach of its decision on Tuesday morning.

Lyon has one year remaining in his contract and will receive an undisclosed payout.

CEO Steve Rosich has also had his contract terminated with a year remaining on his contract.

-more to come

 

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Matthew Elliott: For the also-rans, next season should start now

Matthew Elliott: For the also-rans, next season should start now

19/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29373685

In the final weeks of the NRL regular season our attention really starts to focus on the make up of the final eight and it’s hard not to think about which teams will make it to the grand final.

At the top end, it’s exciting for players and fans, but what about the impact and mentality being experienced by those clubs with zero chance of competing in September?

Having been in this position a few times, I can tell you that one rather strong word sums up the feeling – with an exclamation mark!

There are five clubs that find themselves in this situation and all will be assessing their season, their roster and their future.

Gold Coast Titans sit six points clear on the bottom of the table after only four wins this year.

Going into this season with Garth Brennan in charge, the talent across their roster would have had them feeling confident about playing in the finals.

Newcastle’s Edrick Lee breaks free from Gold Coast Titans’ defence. Photo: Getty

Lack of connection in attack and defence has been an evident problem that must be fixed.

While obvious deficiencies are exposed occasionally during games, what has become clear is the resolve to win consistently in the NRL has left the building some time ago.

Talent is not the challenge but establishing a winning culture certainly is and this Titans group looks as though it can’t wait for the season to end. This has to be addressed.

The Bulldogs present us with a different story, as their roster is in a developmental phase.

Under Dean Pay we can see that while this team may not have the potency of others they rarely beat themselves.

They can build on this, and indeed already are, with the win over Souths on the weekend proving they can match it with teams who have finals aspirations.

They are a danger and have the ability to move forward next season.

The Dragons are a team packed with representative talent and will be undoubtedly disappointed with their result this year.

The Dragons enthusiasm dropped off after some early success. Photo: Getty 

Coming into the finals rounds this group looks tired and predictable in execution of play.

This could be due to the toll of representative footy and the off-field challenges they have had this year, but it must be noted that it is a familiar trend over a couple of years.

Paul McGregor needs to shake up his approach if things are to be any better going forward.

The bottom teams will be looking to disrupt stronger outfits in the run to the finals. But as talk turns to the end-of-season trip or who needs to be recruited next year there is also another discussion some clubs will need to have – conditioning and injuries.

North Queensland Cowboys have had massive injury problems, particularly on their outside back.

Couple this with the fact that they have players who have been amazing servants, but are about to retire and you have a team playing on tired legs.

In the off season they will need to address the form and the contribution of Michael Morgan, Coen Hess and Jake Granville.

The Cowboys’ Michael Morgan is among players who need to lift. Photo: Getty

These individuals have demonstrated they are outstanding players but have not been right in 2019.

Are they carrying injury or do they need an injection of enthusiasm?

Whatever it is, for Cowboys fans to enjoy more wins, these guys need to get their bodies right and stand up in 2020.

Newcastle Knights are another close, but no cigar story. They went on a seven-game winning streak during the season, only to be bought back down to earth over the past couple of months.

For me the catalyst for the winning streak was the form and leadership shown by Mitch Pearce.

His key contribution in helping New South Wales win a State of Origin series seemed to turn into a letdown once back at his club.

If this is the reason for the team’s inconsistent effort at the end of the season, they have a major problem. The reliance on one individual in the NRL is a dangerous formula and Origin will be there again next year.

Cooked? Mitchell Pearce had a big high for NSW, then seemed to fall flat. Photo: Getty

In reality, Nathan Brown’s rebuilding of the club was never going to see finals success until 2020 so the Knights are still on target if they can get more consistent performances from Brown and the men around him.

As the season winds down we will also learn a bit about the club support structures among the cellar dwellers.

Having to play a month of footy in one of the most physical arenas on the planet with no chance of playing finals is extremely tough on the mind and body.

But from that trial the seeds of next season’s success could still be planted.

Former St George player, Matthew Elliott has coached NRL teams Canberra, Penrith and New Zealand Warriors

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The Ashes: England skipper says Archer has ‘shaken’ Australians

The Ashes: England skipper says Archer has ‘shaken’ Australians

19/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29372076

England captain Joe Root believes Jofra Archer can have a similar effect on the Ashes series as former Australia quick Mitchell Johnson did in the battle for the urn in 2013/14.

Despite being 1-0 down after two Tests, Root believes all the momentum is with his side going into the third match at Headingley on Thursday, thanks to the addition of Archer.

The 24-year-old debutant caused the Australian batsmen all sorts of problems in the drawn second Test at Lord’s and put Steve Smith out of the match after concussing the former skipper after hitting him in the neck with a brutish delivery.

Smith, who has tormented the English bowlers in the past two series, is battling to be available for Headingley following the blow from Archer on Saturday.

steve-smith
Steve Smith moments is struck  by a Jofra Archer delivery on day four. Photo: Getty 

Johnson terrorised the England batsmen to help Australia regain the Ashes they had lost just five months earlier in a stunning series that saw him take 37 wickets in a 5-0 win.

Archer clocked up speeds of more than 154km/h at Lord’s and Root said he will loom as a potent threat to the tourists.

“He has come in and had a massive impact and added a dynamic to our bowling group,” Root said.

He has given Australia something to think about and it is really impressive to see someone come in on Test debut and shake up things and live up to the hype.

“It makes for some very interesting last few games.

“He makes things happen when not many others in the world of cricket can.

“He has such a unique action and way of bowling, and his natural pace is always going to be in the game on any surface.

“With the other guys around him it makes a tasty combination, which is why we always felt we were in the game. He has had a big workload this week and we have to make sure he is 100 per cent ready to go at Headingley.”

England was unable to get the final four wickets it needed for an unlikely win after setting Australia a target of 267 from 48 overs in a session-and-half. Root said his side would head to Yorkshire confident of levelling the series.

“We threw everything at them,” he said. “We gave ourselves a good amount of overs to create things.

“Sometimes you need everything going at you and all in all it was a fantastic effort.

“To get us to that score we knew it would be very difficult for Australia to get any sort of result out of the game.

“We wanted a big response from the group. It felt like we put them under huge amounts of pressure.

“It was really pleasing to see us driving for the win from a position that was difficult.”

-AAP

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‘Total Ashes foul’: PM goes into bat for Steve Smith as crowd boos

‘Total Ashes foul’: PM goes into bat for Steve Smith as crowd boos

19/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29371614

Scott Morrison has praised cricketer Steve Smith as deserving “nothing but respect” and told hecklers he expects the former captain to answer his critics by bringing home the Ashes.

The Prime Minister’s remarks follow news that an MCC member was kicked out of the Lord’s pavilion for verbally abusing Steve Smith after he was hit in the neck and collapsed on day four of the second Ashes Test.

The Times reported it was the first time a member of Marylebone Cricket Club, founded in 1787, has been ejected for booing and follows the introduction of tougher guidelines for member behaviour.

“A draw for the second Test but it was a total Ashes foul for the crowd at Lord’s to boo Steve Smith. His performance on the pitch during his return to Test Match cricket in the UK demands nothing other than respect,” Mr Morrison said.

“He’s a champion & has handled the events of the past year with a real humility. I’m extremely proud of Steve Smith, not just because he comes from the Shire. The crowd could learn a thing or two from Steve Smith.

“I look forward to him answering his hecklers with bat & ball in hand to bring home the Ashes.”

Smith is recovering after he was ruled out of playing the final day of the Test, with “mild concussion”.

Mr Morrison was quick to call for Smith’s public rehabilitation after the ball-tampering crisis.

Smith was forced to resign as Australia’s captain, along with David Warner, the vice-captain, after the ball-tampering scandal in South Africa last year.

The Prime Minister later urged Cricket Australia to restore trust and credibility in the sport in the wake of a damning report into its administration, describing it as “sobering reading”.

“I think for cricket fans all across Australia, they will be very disappointed,” Mr Morrison said at the time.

“Young boys and girls look up to their cricket heroes and they aspire as a result of what they see out there on the field.

“That imposes I think a very heavy responsibility on Cricket Australia to ensure that they are upholding the values of our great game.”

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Nathan Burke: How AFL coaches manage the mood to deliver success

Nathan Burke: How AFL coaches manage the mood to deliver success

18/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29369089

It is round 23 and life is about to become a whole lot more fun for all AFL players – be they in or out of the finals.

For those not in the finals the reason is obvious. The pressure of playing week in week out is now gone and it’s holiday time.

I can tell you that when your team is out of the September action and that final Round 23 siren sounds it is like a 100 kilogram weight has been lifted from your shoulders.

The burden to perform week in week out instantly evaporates.

The guilt you feel during the year when contemplating a beer or ice cream disappears and all the vices you have been suppressing for 10 months can now resurface – for a few weeks at least.

It is a feeling of immense relief.

For those players who are still competing in the finals, the ability to eat whatever they want and sleep whenever they want has to wait. This doesn’t mean things don’t improve – they certainly do.

The difference is the shackles are released by design, not circumstance.

This is because a great coach, one who has got his team into the finals,  will juggle the mood of the group to reflect the achievement.

The good coach knows that it is impossible for a playing group to maintain their enthusiasm and focus for the entire season so they will manipulate the mood and get his players into the right mindset.

At the start of preseason the coach is noticeably gruffer and they usually expect all their assistants to follow suit. That is the period where standards are set and benchmarks are stretched.

To ensure everyone is focused and starts the year on the right foot the coaches tolerance for misbehaviour or slackness is all non existent.

As the preseason continues through the summer slog and the practice games start to roll around they tend to lighten up.

North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw changed the moood at the Kangaroos. Photo: Getty

They want the players to be chock full of confidence and chomping at the bit for Round one and something as simple as smile or the odd joke from the coach can help bring a positive mood to the entire football department.

A quarter of the way through the season the mood will turn again. This is the peak time to make strides, to set up the season, and everyone must be intensely focused.

The smart coach will tighten the reins, become a bit snappier and the level of jocularity will decrease.

Then it starts to rain and thecoach must adjust again. Training in mid-winter means the sore bits always seem to take longer to heal. The days are shorter and so are the fuses.

To counter this the smart coach will intentionally lighten both the load and the overall mood.

Everyone in the football department will be instructed to loosen up, crack a few jokes and social events will occur more frequently.

As August approaches the season is dragging and staying disciplined for over eight months can start to take its toll. Standards can start to slip and the reins will once again need to be tightened.

And so on the eve of the finals, it is time to switch to supreme confidence.

By design the mood will lighten, the number of positives video clips in the team review will increase and good feedback will dominate all discussions.

The players will enjoy being around the club more, game plans will be simplified in the hope this will translate into increased on field performance.

This is the sort of release that we’ve seen the ‘interim’ coaches use to good effect this season when given their chance.

Rhyce Shaw, Brett Ratten and David Teague have simply gone into finals preparation mode early – even though they are not in the finals.  Listen to the North, Carlton and Saints players and they will tell you how things have been lightened up around the club.

Everyone is enjoying it more and the coach is building great relationships. What you get is a team willing to take the game on again and play with flair and confidence.

In other words they are playing the game like a good finals team.

For the fans watching the coaches, look for the clubs where the smiles are increasing, where there are positive words or even a shirtless coach running a lap in the Canberra cold.

Soon, it’s September and the fun really begins.

Nathan Burke is a former St Kilda captain who played 323 AFL games for the Saints, winning three Trevor Barker Awards as best-and-fairest player.

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The upside for the Wallabies – no, seriously

The upside for the Wallabies – no, seriously

18/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29369090

You might think the Australian rugby media that were talking up the Wallabies and (foolishly) talking down the All Blacks last week have joined the election pollsters for a period of quiet self-reflection.

Yes, it was an demolition. The 36 was bad; the 0 was worse; and a seven-man All Blacks scrum destroying the eight-man Wallabies unit was …absolute embarrassment.

Yet there is upside. No, seriously. There can be benefits in this drubbing ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

The ABs over two weeks gave us several lessons that we can learn from and exposing crucial failures that can be fixed means, well, there’s the chance to fix them.

Encouragingly, the fixable failures were mainly about being smarter and better prepared, rather than any intrinsic weakness in the cattle.

In no particular order:

  • There is no mileage in kicking the ball to the world’s best attacking rugby player, Beauden Barrett. A team wiser for the experience will not do that again. Kicking to him in plenty of space is particularly stupid

    the upside for the Wallabies
    Do not, repeat, do not kick the ball to Beauden Barrett. Photo: Getty
  • Giving the ball to any of the ABs in plenty of space is not smart. The ABs’ kicking game on Saturday night was a lesson – if not at length for touch, short enough to provide plenty of chasers and competition for the catch
  • A kick without effective chasers that doesn’t go deep into touch is merely surrendering possession, giving the ABs the opportunity to score
  • A lesson from the Under-10s manual: it’s better to gain 10 metres and keep the ball than 20 metres and surrender it.

A couple of times a Wallaby made a good break – and found he had little support. When a prop (albeit a wonderful prop) is the only support for a promising break downfield, something is seriously lacking among those who are supposed to be the quicker members of the team.

  • A related matter: the Wallabies need more speed in the back row. We urgently need a faster, more agile number six, preferably a fit David Pocock
  • There was only one aspect of the game in which the Wallabies were superior, not because the Wallabies were great at it but because the ABs weren’t great: the lineout
the upside for the Wallabies
The lineout – the one bright spot for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty

So a smart team would attempt to play to that strength, aiming to kick the ball out instead of to an All Black. (Yes, that again.)

  • Sorry, more about kicking: the box kick – really? As good as our two halfbacks are, what are the percentages on their box kicks?

A plea to rugby commentators: please don’t exclaim “box kick!” every time the half does one. It’s a bit like shouting “he has two hands!” – we can see that. And I think it only encourages them.

  • The ABs gave us a lesson about the seven-man scrum while they were being beaten in Perth: if your scrum is not clearly dominant, get that bloody ball out there immediately. Being down a man did not trouble them on their own feed

The ease with which the ABs quickly cleared the ball in Perth was amazing. It demonstrated heaven-knows how many man years of scrum practice on just that single aspect of the dark art. The Wallabies need to study the tape, learn the lesson and pack a few million more scrums until they can do it too.

As for that seven-v-eight demolition, it will make a fine motivation video to play before every forwards’ training session.

  • White Line Fever is a terrible thing. When playing with a penalty advantage, continuing to batter away in the forwards close to the line is not the only option, especially when it doesn’t work. After a couple of rumbles, spinning it to a big, bruising inside centre or a similarly big, bruising winger coming in on an angle might be worth trying – if only to lift fans’ hopes.

The splendid Mr Kerevi repeatedly broke the gain line. The wonderful Mr Koroibete also would be extremely difficult to stop at speed a few metres out. We never gave them the chance, even with the ref playing advantage. Dumb rugby.

  • Similarly, if something clearly isn’t working, don’t keep attempting it. While our ability to win a lineout was good, our attempts to subsequently roll a maul from it were largely embarrassing
  • When stretched wide without support, and unless there’s clear open space in front of him, there’s very little benefit in delivering a final pass to a man on the sideline who’s covered. If the pass is poor and the ball is dropped, ABs have a funny habit of scoring tries from it. Lesson learned, expensively

That’s enough for now. Those few little matters attended to, the half-time score could have been very different on Saturday night.

Despite being down 17-0, the Wallabies were not out of the game in the first half. They were frustrating to watch, opportunities not taken, silly mistakes made, but they were having a good crack.

For all the superior passion and commitment the All Blacks brought to the game for 80 minutes, it wasn’t embarrassing to be wearing gold until the second half when the horse had bolted. A closer score, as it should have been after 40 minutes, and the horse would be less likely to gather speed.

So it goes. And we can all look forward to the next test to see those problems fixed, to find out what happens next. It’s part of why we love the game.

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NRL Straight Six: Melbourne again in the eye of the storm

NRL Straight Six: Melbourne again in the eye of the storm

18/08/2019, Australia, Multi Sports, The New Daily , Article # 29369029

Melbourne Storm have been put under the microscope for their wresting tactics and their ability to slow down the ruck after South Sydney CEO Shane Richardson publicly attacked them for the tactic.

The Storm’s CEO Dave Donaghy responded in kind, and then published a letter to club members alleging there was a dedicated campaign against the Storm on an annual basis.

“Like you, I love this time of the year – it’s getting close to finals time,” Donaghy  wrote. “And, like clockwork, the annual Storm-bashing of our Club has begun.

Funny how it always seems to happen about this time of the year, every year. As a club we always focus on being the best we can, on and off the field, and treat white noise as just that.”

It was a strong defence, but unfortunately coincided with Melbourne’s stunning capitualtion to the Raiders on Saturday.

Storm surrendered an 18-0 lead against Canberra and ultimately lost 22-18 in one of the biggest comebacks of the season.

Perhaps the club is best to do it’s talking onfield.

Ring around suggests gift in order

Not only did Storm have that drama to deal with, but the NRL found itself being questioned in some quarters for gifting a diamond ring worth $15,000 to Barbara Smith, the wife of Cameron, at a private dinner to celebrate the Storm player’s  400th NRL game.

Cameron Smith was away from home a lot during 400 games. Photo: Getty

The gift was not approved by the ARL Commission and has been heavily criticised. But NRL boss Todd Greenberg has defended his actions.

“Our biggest stars wouldn’t be where they are today without the women in their lives,” he said. “We make no apologies for honouring the amazing role Barb has played and the sacrifices she has made throughout Cameron’s career.

“His feat made history and may never be done again. It was right to acknowledge the achievement in the way we did.”

Hall of Famers did it for League

One NRL decision not up for question was the elevation of seven individuals to the Hall of Fame.

Ex-players Danny Buderus, Ruben Wiki, Stacey Jones and Craig Young along with administrator JJ Giltinan, and media figures Ray Warren and Peter Frilingos were acclaimed at the Carriageworks in Sydney induction for their huge contribution.

Buderus and Young did it all for their clubs, Newcastle and St George, as well as for NSW and Australia, while Wiki and Jones are two of New Zealand’s finest ever products.

Giltinan, who died in 1950, helped found rugby league in Australia and the NRL’s premiership shield is named after him.

Frilingos, who died in 2004, was a renowned writer and radio broadcaster, while Warren is Channel Nine’s legendary commentator who has been on screen calling games since the 1970s.


Stuttering Souths need to rediscover form

Something’s rotten at Redern, with South Sydney bumbling its way to a disappointing 14-6 loss to the Bulldogs on Saturday.

The Bunnies were flat and uninspiring, unable to conjure absolutely anything in attack and looked well past their best.

The defeat was their third in a row and their fourth in their past seven games, seeing them slip out of the top four.

Souths were so dominant at the start of the season, and it appeared as though they could really challenge the Storm and Roosters for the title. But it now they are meandering towards the end of the year and look anything but challengers.

Seibold’s swipe backfires

Brisbane Broncos coach Anthony Seibold caused some dramas last week when he made a crack at Sydney Roosters halfback Luke Keary.

Seibold’s star man Daris Boyd has been under fire all season for his lackluster displays on the field. His coach tried to deflect some of the heat off him by targeting Keary.

“I had a look through the competition last weekend, there is an Australian No. 6 (Keary) playing for a team in Sydney who only made four metres last week and missed five tackles,”  Seibold said.

“Not one thing was said in the media about that. His team won and our team won. For whatever reason because Darius only had one run, he has been crucified all week from what I understand. I just think everyone needs to back off on Darius.”

As a tactic it has backfired on Seibold badly.

Carney’s past bubbles to surface

The squeamish may want to stop reading now, but former NRL bad boy Todd Carney has opened up about his controversial career and the infamous ‘bubbler’ incident that saw him kicked out of the competition in 2014.

Carney was sacked by Cronulla, and never played in the NRL again, after a photo of him trying to urinate in his own mouth went viral.

Todd Carney
Todd Carney had an ignoble exit from NRL. Photo: Getty

“It was a stupid party trick, very tasteless and inappropriate, but I feel it needs to be put in context,” the 33-year-old wrote in his book.

“It was at no one else’s expense and I was just acting the fool. And my rights were violated … I’d clearly done something inappropriate, but … no one was hurt by my actions – they were just dumb, plain and simple.

“Every time I go to a public toilet, I find myself anxious that blokes will see me and take the mickey out of me.”

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