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SportsDay Live, Friday March 22, 2013

Date

Billy the 'kung fu' Kid, Shane Flanagan back in charge at Cronulla, who will lead Australia? (cricket team, not the government)

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Slater cleared over kick

Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy leapt to Billy Slater's defense after he kicked the Bulldogs' David Klemmer in the face while catching a high-ball on Thursday night.

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The times they are a'gettin different ... Starting Monday, SportsDay Live is becoming a lunchtime phenomenon. We'll be blogging all the sporting news from midday till 2pm, a perfect chance to catch up with the day's sporting news while the boss is out to a loooooong lunch. On Tuesdays we will still blog into the afternoon with Michael Chammas' Talkin' Teams bringing you all the NRL squads as they're announced for each round.

And as always we'll be live blogging all the big sporting events.

Next up on the horizon is day 1 of the 4th Test between India and Australia from Delhi, then later tonight we'll be bringing you the NRL clash between the Wests Tigers and Parramatta from Leichhardt Oval.

And there'll be a feast of cricket, NRL, rugby and AFL over the weekend.

That's it for today & as per usual, smh.com.au is the place to be for all the latest sporting news as it breaks from all corners of the sporting globe.

Cricket. Shane Watson will become the first Queensland-born Australian Test cricket captain. There'll be dancing in the streets of Ipswich tonight. 

On this day in 1967 ... Muhammad Ali knocked out Zora Folley in seven rounds to retain the world heavyweight boxing crown. According to his Wikipedia page, Folley died ... in mysterious circumstances, suffering severe head injuries in a motel swimming pool while visiting a friend in Tucson, Arizona on July 8, 1972, and died at a Tucson hospital within hours. The death was officially ruled to be accidental, but conspiracy theories regarding his death persist.

Goal tending ... New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan crawls out of the goal after getting knocked into it by the Florida Panthers in the third period of their NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden.

Goal tending ... New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan crawls out of the goal after getting knocked into it by the Florida Panthers in the third period of their NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Photo: Reuters

Cricket. Tasmania's run rate is creeping up towards 1.5 an over at 0-51 after 38 overs in the Sheffield Shield final. No truth to the rumour that several Queensland players have fallen asleep in the outfield.

New Jersey Nets star Shawn Bradley flashes a thumb-up sign as he jokingly leans on the head of Junko Kubo, a Japanese TV sports caster, after a practice at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo in 1995.  Bradley, who is 228cm tall, stood out just a little bit in Tokyo.

New Jersey Nets star Shawn Bradley flashes a thumb-up sign as he jokingly leans on the head of Junko Kubo, a Japanese TV sports caster, after a practice at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo in 1995. Bradley, who is 228cm tall, stood out just a little bit in Tokyo. Photo: AP

On this day in 1972 ... former US basketballer Shawn Bradley was born. One of the tallest players to line up in the NBA at 228cm, the beanpole centre was famous for blocking shots (shouldn't be that hard when you're nearly as tall as the basket) and came out to Australia after his college career was over to complete a two-year Mormon missionary.

On this day in 1934 ... The US Masters teed off for the first time at Augusta, Georgia. Horton Smith won the title after sinking a six-metre putt on the penultimate hole.

Tennis. Good to see Bernard Tomic knock over French opponent Marc Gicquel in the opening round of the ATP Tour event in Florida. Tomic triumphed 7-5 7-6 (3) to advance to a second-round showdown with world No.3 Andy Murray.

Cricket. "Two-metre Peter" Fulton went to the tea break in the nervous 90s at 95 not out with Kane Williamson 39 on the first day of the third Test between the Black Caps and Poms at Auckland. NZ are 1-173 with Hamish Rutherford the man out, dismissed by Steve Finn for 37.

Basketball. Three games in the NBA today ... Portland have upset the Bulls 99-89 in Chicago, Philadelphia are trailing the Nuggets 59-58 midway through the third quarter in Denver and Minnesota hold a 24-23 lead in Sacramento.

PAUL SUTTOR: Kudos to Michael from IT for finally answering the phone. Computer issues seem to have been resolved ... for now

Tennis. Venus Williams has outpointed fellow veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4 in the WTA Tour event in Florida.

Cricket. Tassie just moments away from returning to Blundstone Arena. There's a rumour going around the ground that one of their batsmen will play an attacking shot this session. Unconfirmed at this stage, we'll bring you more details as they come to hand.

Rugby. Blues coach Sir John Kirwan has reverted to his successful season-opening combination for their Super Rugby match against the NSW Waratahs in Sydney on Sunday. Kirwan made several changes to his team in their home loss to the Bulls ahead of last weekend’s bye. But on Friday he returned to the lineup who started the campaign with surprise wins over the Hurricanes and Crusaders. Chris Noakes returns at five-eighth, while winger George Moala, No.8 Peter Saili, lock Culum Retallick, hooker James Parsons and prop Tom McCartney are all back in the starting team. ‘‘We’ve got this idea of making sure we continue to create a full squad,’’ Kirwan said. ‘‘The loss certainly influenced what we do going forward so it’s back to the guys that have been proven for us.’’

PAUL SUTTOR: Anyone know how to fix a computer? Am having some major technical issues here. IT have put me on hold. As Homer Simpson would say, where's the ANY key?

Cricket. Contrasting centuries by Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle tightened West Indies’ grip over Zimbabwe on the second day of the second and final Test at Windsor Park on Thursday. At stumps, the home side was 8-381 in reply to the visitors’ first innings total of 175, a huge lead of 206. They will be pushing to complete another comprehensive victory with two days to spare - as achieved the previous week in Barbados - to sweep the brief series 2-0 and extend their Test match winning streak to six.

Basketball. Adelaide 36ers co-captain Nathan Crosswell says he will play his 350th and final NBL game on Saturday night in the clash with the Hawks in Wollongong. Crosswell began his NBL career in 1999 at the age of 20, when he joined the Melbourne Tigers, and has since played for Victorian Titans, Victorian Giants, Cairns Taipans, Townsville Crocodiles and the Adelaide 36ers. He says he has been thinking about retirement for the past couple of months and made the decision with his family.

League. Reinstated Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan ... ‘‘I’m here to coach. I’ve got a two-year contract with the club. The investigation that has gone over the last couple of weeks has cleared me of anything to do with this and I’ve got a two-year contract.‘‘There’s no clauses in my contract and I’ll be moving forward and coaching this football team.’’

Cricket. For those wondering, Ed Cowan is not batting for Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield final. Jordan Silk (24 from 110 deliveries) and Mark Cosgrove (15 from 83) are the ones putting the small crowd at Blundstone Arena to sleep.

Football. New Perth Glory coach Alistair Edwards says there’s no way star striker Shane Smeltz will play for an A-League rival next season, but an overseas move could be on the cards. Rumours are building that Smeltz may leave the Glory at the end of the season - one year short of when his contract expires. But Edwards says Smeltz has given him no indication that he wants to leave, although that could change if an overseas club offers him a multi-million-dollar deal.

WICKET. Mark Waugh just got out for a well-made 102 against the West Indies in the ODI that Fox Sports are playing during the lunch break in the Sheffield Shield final. A bit more action in this one compared to Tasmania's effort of 41 runs in the first session against Queensland at Hobart.

AFL. Melbourne’s Jack Trengove will find out on Saturday whether the rehabilitation he hopes has been timed to the minute for AFL round one remains on track. Trengove will play his first pre-season match for Melbourne’s reserve team Casey Scorpions - a VFL practice hitout against Port Melbourne.

The 21-year-old Demons co-captain has had a curtailed pre-season because of a foot stress fracture discovered in early December.

But having undergone painstaking rehabilitation and training hard without playing, Trengove is hoping his patience will be rewarded with a pain-free hitout. ‘‘The way we have worked the training program is that I’d be ready to go round one. Obviously there’s a few boxes I have to tick,’’ Trengove said.

League. Reinstated Cronulla coach Shane Flanagan ... ‘‘I’m here to coach. I’ve got a two-year contract with the club. The investigation that has gone over the last couple of weeks has cleared me of anything to do with this and I’ve got a two-year contract.‘‘There’s no clauses in my contract and I’ll be moving forward and coaching this football team.’’

Effort ... Venus Williams  returns a shot to Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan at the Sony Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Effort ... Venus Williams returns a shot to Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan at the Sony Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida. Photo: Reuters

Good afternoon SDL blog fans, Paul Suttor here taking over blog duties till 2pm AEDT then we'll be switching to Delhi where the fourth Test will be run and won (probably not all done by the end of the first day).

Tiger Woods (L) and Justin Rose of England walk down the 9th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando.

Tiger Woods (L) and Justin Rose of England walk down the 9th hole during the first round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational at the Bay Hill Club in Orlando. Photo: AFP

Golf. Justin Rose, thriving in the spotlight that comes with playing alongside Tiger Woods, has fired a seven-under 65 to seize a two-shot lead at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. England’s Rose had an eagle and six birdies in his tour of Bay Hill. He holds a two-stroke first-round lead over American John Huh. John Rollins and Canadian Brad Fritsch share third place on four-under 68, with 14-time major champion Woods in a group of 10 players four off the lead on 69. Rose said the marquee pairing with Woods ‘‘elevates the day’’ and he made the most of it despite their early tee time that had them heading off the 10th in chilly conditions. ‘‘Starting out this morning, the first six, seven, eight holes felt a grind,’’ Rose said. ‘‘It was cold. It was windy.’’

Rugby. Good to see Drew Mitchell back in favour at WaratahLand.

Mitchell has been recalled at the expense of fellow Wallabies winger Lachie Turner in the NSW Waratahs team to host the Blues in their Super Rugby clash on Sunday.

Read the full story here

Football. Matilda Sam Kerr backs up her case against playing a World Cup on AstroTurf in Vancouver with evidence. Ouch! 

Cricket. Tassie have crawled along to 0-33 in the Sheffield Shield final after 26.1 overs. Mark Cosgrove is 12 from 69 deliveries, Jordan Silk is 19 from 90.

League. What are your thoughts on Billy The Kick? Our poll is split right down the middle ... Log in to post your comments on the SportsDay Live blog

Poll: Should Billy Slater be charged for kicking David Klemmer last night?

Poll form
  1. Please select an answer.
  2. View results
Yes - it's dangerous jumping in the air and leading with a foot

47%

No - it was accidental

53%

Total votes: 3126.

Would you like to vote?

You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.

Poll closed 23 Mar, 2013

Disclaimer:

These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.

Scrum time ... Cronulla Sharks NRL coach Shane Flanagan is swamped by the media after the club announced he has been reinstated.

Scrum time ... Cronulla Sharks NRL coach Shane Flanagan is swamped by the media after the club announced he has been reinstated. Photo: John Veage

Paralympics: Swimmer Ellie Cole, quadruple gold medallist at London last year, was at a bit of a loss this morning, having misplaced her prosthetic leg. 

Fellow paralympian Kelly Cartwright, who once turned up at a party to find friends drinking out of her leg, can sympathise.

 

 

Football: A boost for the Western Sydney Wanderers on the eve of their derby against Sydney FC with Japanese star Shinji Ono signing on for another season.

Ono said the "family" atmosphere at the A-League leaders made it an easy decision to sign for another season.

The Wanderers can clinch the Premier’s Plate with victory over Sydney with a round to spare in their incredible debut season.

"I love this club and I want to play more football with them so we can achieve more beyond this season," Ono said in a club statement.

"I have told anybody who asks me about the club that it is like a big family.’’

Meanwhile, Socceroo Lucas Neill has been cleared to line up in defence for Sydney.

Read the full story here

 

Cricket: Meanwhile in Auckland, the Kiwis are ticking along nicely at 1-123 in the second session of day one of the third and final Test against England.

Peter Fulton is on 62 and Kane Williamson on 23.

Cricket: Tasmania have made a cautious start batting first in the Sheffield Shield final against Queensland at Bellerive.

The Tigers are 0-18 after an hour’s play. Opener Jordan Silk had a life when he was four, dropped by Ryan Harris at slip.

Football: The Matildas are blowing up about the choice of Vancouver as the venue for the 2015 Women's World Cup final. Nothing to do with the city but the artificial turf surface.

Gotta make it to the big dance first though.

 

 

Athletics: Italy’s former 200 metres world record holder and Olympic champion Pietro Mennea has died, aged 60.

The sprinter won 200m gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, beating Britain’s 100m champion Alan Wells into second place.

Mennea also won bronze in the 4x400 relay at Moscow, to add to a 200m bronze from the 1972 Munich Games.

He broke the 200m world record in September 1979 with a time of 19.72 seconds, a mark that stood for 17 years until Michael Johnson ran 19.66s in 1996. Mennea’s time remains the European record.

He went on to become a Member of the European Parliament following his retirement. No cause of death has been reeleased.

Read the full obit here

Watch a tribute here ...

League: Check out this week's instalment of the Illawarra Mercury’s NRL preview show when Adam Pengilly and Tim Barrow debate the shoulder charge, the Canberra hoodoo and how long Steve Price has to save his coaching career.

Every Friday, the boys discuss the big issues in rugby league, as well as a wrap of St George Illawarra’s fortunes on and off the field in The Dragons’ Lair and some bold predictions and banter along the way.

Watch it here

 

League: Brisbane have lost strike centre Justin Hodges for Saturday’s NRL showdown with the Sydney Roosters at Allianz Stadium.

Coach Anthony Griffin declined to risk Hodges and has decided to split the defensive job on Roosters danger man Michael Jennings between back-rowers Matt Gillett and David Stagg.

Stagg, who returned to the Broncos from the Bulldogs this season, is likely to start at right centre opposite Jennings, but Griffin said Gillett would also spend time out in the back line.

Then there is the small matter of Sonny Bill Williams.

Hodges is battling hamstring issues and has been kept in cotton wool for next Friday night’s NRL blockbuster against the defending premiers Melbourne at Suncorp Stadium.

Rugby: Refereeing is an unpopular job, just ask Steve Walsh, and sometimes can be downright dangerous, just ask this French ref who might need to work on his field positioning, once he gets out of the cast.

Super Rugby: Rob Horne will start at inside-centre on Sunday, as the Waratahs host the Blues at Allianz Stadium in the return of afternoon rugby to Sydney.

Horne will take the place of injured playmaker Berrick Barnes, lining up alongside Adam Ashley-Cooper in the midfield.  Barnes dislocated his thumb in last Friday’s game against the Cheetahs.

In the only other change to the starting XV, Drew Mitchell returns to the side and will start on the left wing, with impressive newcomer Peter Betham switching to 14.

The game kicks off at 4.05pm and will be preceded by a curtain-raiser that between Sydney University and the University of Queensland for the Australian Club Championship.

To celebrate Family Day, special $10 general admission tickets to all family members, young and old, from www.waratahs.com.au.

The Tahs squad:
1. Benn Robinson (Eastwood)
2. John Ulugia (Eastern Suburbs)
3. Paddy Ryan (Sydney University)
4. Sitaleki Timani (Southern Districts)
5. Kane Douglas (Southern Districts)
6. Dave Dennis (Sydney University, captain)
7. Michael Hooper (Manly)
8. Pat McCutcheon (Sydney University)
9. Brendan McKibbin (Eastern Suburbs)
10. Bernard Foley (Sydney University)
11. Drew Mitchell (Balmain)
12. Rob Horne (Southern Districts)
13. Adam Ashley-Cooper (Northern Suburbs)
14. Peter Betham (Sydney University)
15. Israel Folau (Sydney University)
Replacements
16. Luke Holmes (Warringah)
17. Sekope Kepu (Randwick)
18. Mitchell Chapman (Eastern Suburbs)
19. Jed Holloway (Southern Districts)
20. Matt Lucas (Manly)
21. Ben Volavola (Southern Districts)
22. Tom Kingston (Sydney University)

Football: Check out the skills on this Omani cameraman as he covered a local league match.

If he's any indication of the local talent the Socceroos could be in for a fright in their crunch World Cup qualifier against Oman on Tuesday night. And no, he's not called Joe.

Football: FIFA’s eternal president Sepp Blatter says changes will be made to the voting process for World Cup hosting rights.

The awarding of the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to Russia and Qatar respectively in December 2010 caused an international outcry.

Blatter admitted choosing two hosts at once was "a mistake’’.

‘‘That was an error from a political point of view, although in terms of marketing and television it wasn't," he said.

"Future World Cups will no longer be decided by a vote of the 25 members of the Executive Committee, but will be chosen by the 209 presidents of each FIFA federation.

"The Executive Committee will serve only to create a final shortlist of a maximum of three candidates to host the competition.’’

Read the full story here


Rugby. Georgina Robinson reports ... Chris Webb, one half of the tightest coach-manager team in Australian rugby, has quit the Western Force and will move back to Sydney next week.

Webb is leaving coach Michael Foley, with whom he worked at the Waratahs, to move back east to be closer to his wife and two year old son, who remained in Sydney when he and Foley took the Force job.

Webb said he would continue to work remotely with the Force for a little while and take some time to plot his next move.

Cricket: Here's a rare live pic from the cricket in Auckland, or anywhere else for that matter, that doesn't involve brooms or stick figures.

Not praying for rain: Hamish Rutherford of New Zealand reacts after being dismissed 5 minutes before lunch on day one of the third test against England at Eden Park in Auckland.

Not praying for rain: Hamish Rutherford of New Zealand reacts after being dismissed 5 minutes before lunch on day one of the third test against England at Eden Park in Auckland. Photo: Reuters

Rowing: Dual Olympic medallist Kim Crow has launched Australia's first international rowing regatta in 13 years with a convincing heat win on the first morning of the Sydney World Cup.

Crow showed her class in winning her heat in the single sculls and qualifying fastest for Sunday's final at the Sydney International Regatta Centre at Penrith – the scene of the 2000 Olympic regatta.

In millpond conditions, the former hurdler followed up her victory at the national titles 24 hours earlier with a dominant row of seven minutes 53.99 seconds.

Crow, who won silver in the double sculls and bronze in the single at the London Olympics, eased off over the last 500m but still led Estonia's Kaisa Pajusalu and American Susan Francia, an Olympic champion in the women's eight, home by two-and-a-half lengths.

Cricket: A wicket just before lunch gave England some consolation after New Zealand’s openers warily negotiated most of the first session of the third Test at Eden Park.

New Zealand looked set to get through the first session without loss after England sent New Zealand in after winning the toss, looking to exploit a green tinge in the pitch in the deciding Test.

But they lost a wicket with five minutes left in the session with the score at 79 after Steven Finn enticed Hamish Rutherford into a drive wide of first slip and had him caught by captain Alastair Cook.

They went to lunch on 1-79, with Peter Fulton on 41 and Kane Williamson yet to score.

League: Brad Walter reports ...

The NRL match review committee has ruled that Melbourne fullback Billy Slater's kick to the head of Canterbury forward David Klemmer was accidental contact.

Slater was not charged over the incident, which was placed on report after Slater's boot struck Klemmer in the head after the Test star had launched himself to field a kick.

Slater later said he had been "protecting" himself, and the match review committee found he had no case to answer.

After pleading guilty to dangerous contact last week, Slater would have faced suspension if he had been charged over the incident in the Storm's 22-18 defeat of the Bulldogs.

League: South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has challenged his team to help out talented halfback Adam Reynolds as he becomes a popular target for opposition teams.

Maguire has no concerns about Reynolds’ toughness ahead of Souths’ clash with Penrith on Sunday.

But he admits it’s not all about the diminutive halfback’s ability to take a hit and the onus is on his teammates to protect him.

Reynolds’ stitch count is around the 20-mark already this season with his latest battle scar coming from a head cut in Monday’s 14-12 round-two win over a gallant Cronulla at ANZ Stadium.

‘‘We’re aware he’s getting targeted a little bit but at some stage every player is but he’s a tough kid and he’ll be right.

‘‘He’s got a couple of zippers and I’m sure he’ll get a few more.’’

Read the full story here

League: Looks like Billy Slater is in the clear ...

The NRL has released a statement saying: ‘‘Please be advised that there were no charges following last night’s Round 3 NRL and Holden Cup matches between the Storm and Bulldogs.’’

This means Storm fullback Billy Slater has no case to answer after his boot to the face of Bulldogs forward David Klemmer.

League: Phil Lutton has the latest from Broncos training ...

Brisbane are putting their final touches on their preparations before they meet the Roosters in Sydney on Saturday night.

No Justin Hodges means it's a big ask for the Broncos.

Golf: Justin Rose started out as another player in Tiger Woods’ group on Thursday at Bay Hill - but wound up in the lead.

Rose put on a show with the putter and ran off four straight birdies late in his round of seven-under-par 65 to claim a two-shot lead over American John Huh at the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

Woods had two sloppy bogeys from greenside bunkers and didn’t hit it as well as he did when he won Doral two weeks ago. But he made enough key par saves and manhandled the par-5s to scratch out a 69, a reasonable start as he tries to win Bay Hill for the eighth time and return to No.1 in the world.

Read the full story here

AFL: There's also the small matter of the season kicking off in AFL tonight when the under-fire Bombers travel to Adelaide.

Watch Caroline Wilson's preview of the first round on Caro's Call

 

Cricket: Tasmania won the toss and elected to bat against Queensland in their five-day Sheffield Shield final in Hobart.

League: Reinstated coach Shane Flanagan will be in charge of the Sharks against the Warriors on Sunday.

He flatly denied any contact with St George Illawarra.

League: It's official, Shane Flangan is back as Sharks coach ...

Cronulla chairman Glenn Coleman: "After reviewing the findings of the review Shane Flanagan has been reinstated as head coach with immediate effect."

Flanagan: It’s been a tough couple of weeks for so many people. Glad we’ve sorted this out, really looking forward to working with [new CEO] Bruno [Cullen]. My focus is now on the players."

Drugs in sport: Sports doping cheats have been warned that they are putting themselves in serious danger by taking a ‘‘toxic’’ drug which was forced on to the black market after it was withdrawn by its manufacturer.

The World Anti-Doping Agency issued the warning over the substance, identified only as GW501516, which is being sold to and used by some athletes.

‘‘The side effect of this chemical compound is so serious that WADA is taking the rare step of warning 'cheats’ to ensure that there is complete awareness of the possible health risks to athletes who succumb to the temptation of using GW501516 for performance enhancement,’’ WADA said.

The developmental drug was withdrawn from research by the pharmaceutical company and terminated when serious toxicities were discovered in pre-clinical studies.

‘‘Clinical approval has not, and will not be given for this substance,’’ WADA said.

If anyone knows what this drug might be known as on the street, hit us in the comments.

League: While on the subject of kung-fu, we can't really go past this ...

League: Michael Chammas chimes in on Billy Slatergate ...

I think fullbacks have every right to protect themselves. Defenders aren't supposed to touch a man in the air, so the onus should be on them to avoid making contact with the catcher. If we penalise that, you might see some lunatics purposely placing their heads in dangerous positions to draw a penalty.

 

Football: Everyone's favourite nutcase Mario Balotelli scored a superb second-half equaliser as Italy battled to a 2-2 draw against an impressive Brazil in a friendly in Geneva overnight.

Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side, hosts of the 2014 World Cup and possible future opponents of Italy at the Confederations Cup, came into this match looking for a result following a 2-1 defeat to England last month.

However, any doubts Big Phil might have held about Brazil on their travels evaporated by the interval after Fred and then Chelsea attacking midfielder Oscar scored one apiece to give Brazil a 2-0 half-time lead.

Italy had created several chances in the opening half, including a curling effort from Juventus midfielder Andrea Pirlo, but ultimately struggled with Brazil’s pacy rhythm.

That's Chelsea's Sideshow Bob David Luiz ball-watching again.

Super Mario: Mario Balotelli scores the equaliser for Italy in the 2-2 draw with Brazil in Geneva overnight.

Super Mario: Mario Balotelli scores the equaliser for Italy in the 2-2 draw with Brazil in Geneva overnight. Photo: Getty Images

League: But wait there's more on Billy Slater from the mouth from the not very deep south ...

The guy has a track record of using his legs for things other than running. I can't see how the NRL can let him get away with this.

League: Recreational fisherman Paul Zalunardo feels for the Storm's kung-fu fullback...

Poor Billy Slater. Once again being picked on by the anti-Melbourne set.

Cricket: Speaking of England, the Poms won the toss and sent New Zealand in to bat in the third Test at Eden Park.

England have made one injury-enforced change for the Test, Johnny Bairstow coming in after star batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out with a knee injury. New Zealand are unchanged.

The Kiwis have made a solid start at 0-52 with Hamish Rutherford on 21 and Peter Fulton on 30.

The series is tied at 0-0 after the first two Tests were drawn.

Good morning and T.G.I.F. Shane Brady here until lunch. Thanks to Ben Coady for a blistering opening spell.

It’s big day in sport and the weekend hasn’t even started yet. We’ve got Black Caviar on the track, Flanno back for the Sharks, the Aussie cricketers with their backs to the wall in Delhi and Friday Night Football coming up later.

If you need any more firing up, cop a local Pom’s view of our sporting travails and general critique of us as a nation, as they like to do. Here's the headline ...

Australia learns how to accept failure

Feel free to share your thoughts with him and us in the comments.

Read the full blog here

Brad Walter: League. Billy Slater damned himself with post-match comments that he was only trying to "protect" himself.

Whether Slater intentionally kicked David Klemmer doesn't matter, although the charge should be more severe if he did.

Slater has a duty of care to other players and he failed that by kicking Klemmer in the head, just like a player who makes a careless high tackle.

Unfortunately for Billy, he has carryover points from a dangerous contact charge last weekend against the Cowboys. What he did last night was also dangerous contact. As a result, he can expect some time on the sideline.

Football. FIFA President Sepp Blatter insisted on Thursday that Qatar will host the World Cup in June-July 2022 as planned, amid growing speculation it could be moved to the cooler winter months.

Blatter said that Qatari organisers would have to ask to change their hosting plan from the hottest months, despite recent hints by FIFA’s top official that its ruling board - which chose the tiny desert state - could intervene on medical advice.

Commenting on an issue that has stirred controversy long after a vote in December 2010, Blatter told reporters: ‘‘It has not been put into question by FIFA’s executive committee, therefore it still stands.‘‘Then all of a sudden people have realised that when playing in summer it will be very difficult because it is very hot.’’

Ears McEvoy: If you're not watching sport you should be listening to ... Beach Fossils. Find out why in Pass The Sugar in tomorrow's Sydney Morning Herald.

Sebastian Hassett: Football. On the eve of their clash with Sydney FC, Western Sydney Wanderers marquee Shinji Ono has formally announced that he has re-signed with the club for another season.

The 33-year old has been in strong form the Wanderers this season and has been rewarded with an upgraded contract, believed to be in the vicinity of $750,000.
The news is a huge boost to the Wanderers, especially as they look set to play in the Asian Champions League next year, where Ono already has extensive experience.
“Shinji is not only a great player, he is a true gentleman and it is an honour to have him with us for what will be another fantastic season for this club,” said club executive chairman Lyall Gorman. “His class and skill are there for all to see on the pitch and he has mesmerized defences and thrilled supporters in many memorable games this season."

League. What are your thoughts on Billy The Kick?

Poll: Should Billy Slater be charged for kicking David Klemmer last night?

Poll form
  1. Please select an answer.
  2. View results
Yes - it's dangerous jumping in the air and leading with a foot

47%

No - it was accidental

53%

Total votes: 3126.

Would you like to vote?

You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.

Poll closed 23 Mar, 2013

Disclaimer:

These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.

Cricket. Pakistan opening batsman Mohammad Hafeez was given out by the rarely used rule of obstructing the field in a one-day international against South Africa on Thursday.

Hafeez’s body blocked a throw by South Africa wicketkeeper AB de Villiers as the batsman ran to the non-striker’s end in the fourth ODI at Kingsmead.

Hafeez was judged to have changed the course of his run to prevent a run out and was given out according to a rule introduced by the International Cricket Council in 2011.

Hafeez, yet to score, angrily ripped off his gloves when the decision was made by TV umpire Billy Bowden after an appeal by the South Africans.

Previously, batsmen were allowed to change their course as they ran between ends to put themselves between a throw and the stumps, but that was outlawed two years ago. The opener was the first batsman in international cricket to be dismissed under the new rule, the espncricinfo website said, and just the fifth in the history of test and one-day internationals to be given out under the general obstructing the field law.

Adrian Proszenko: League. A grand final replay and Billy Slater is again embroiled in controversy ... but this time someone else in on the receiving end.

Slater must do time for this. If not, we have a precedent where fullbacks can kick kung-fu kick approaching defenders as they defuse bombs. There may not have been intent, but it's a practice that cannot continue.

Adrian Proszenko: League. Shane Flanagan will officially be reinstated as Cronulla coach at a press conference at 10:15am at Sharkies Leagues Club today.

Paul Suttor: League. Of course Billy "Studs up" Slater should be suspended for his boot to the face of David Klemmer.

Intentional or not it was highly dangerous, reckless, careless, take your pick. And if it goes unpunished it'll set a precedent & we'll see players kicking out whenever they leap for a bomb. 


Adrian Proszenko: League. Shane Flanagan will be re-appointed to the Cronulla Sharks head coaching job. A press conference will be held at 10.15am with Flanagan in attendance.

Tennis. Bernard Tomic advanced to a second round showdown with world No.3 Andy Murray at the Miami Masters on Thursday following a straight sets victory over France’s Marc Gicquel.

Tomic didn’t have everything go his way but did enough to progress in straight sets with a 7-5 7-6 (7-3) victory to set up a clash with Murray on Saturday.

Murray, who enjoyed a first round bye in Miami, emerged victorious in the only previous match between the two - a 6-3 6-2 win in Brisbane last year.

Football. Barcelona star Lionel Messi feels ‘‘proud’’ that Pope Francis is a fellow Argentine and wants to meet the new head of the Roman Catholic church.

The world’s top football player spoke Thursday for the first time in public about Pope Francis after training with the rest of the Argentina squad for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against Venezuela in Buenos Aires.

‘‘All Argentines are proud the Pope is from here,’’ Messi said. ‘‘Obviously, one day I’d like to meet him.’’ Pope Francis is a former archbishop of Buenos Aires and life-long supporter of football club San Lorenzo, which is based in the Argentine capital.

Messi, the four-time FIFA world player of the year, grew up as a fan of Newell’s Old Boys, a team located in the city of Rosario. Messi had congratulated the new Pope in a message on his Facebook account, but this was the first time he talked openly about former Cardinal Julio Bergolio.

Rugby. Blues coach John Kirwan is expecting a wrestling match up front as they take on the under-fire Waratahs in their Super Rugby clash.

The Blues beat the Hurricanes and the Crusaders largely through their exciting back play, but found the forward might of the Bulls and their pressuring game plan too tough in round three.

The Waratahs have had a poor opening to their Super Rugby campaign but their forwards have shown strength and Kirwan rated them the most physical of the Australian sides ahead of their clash in Sydney on Sunday.

‘‘They lost last weekend (to the Cheetahs) but they did some really good stuff with the ball in hand, good hard running at the line, so we’re going to have to be up for that... it’s going to be a WWF-type battle.’’

Cricket.  England have won the toss and have sent New Zealand in to bat in the third cricket Test at Eden Park.

England have made one injury-enforced change for the Test, Johnny Bairstow coming in after star batsman Kevin Pietersen was ruled out with a knee injury.

New Zealand are unchanged for the third Test in a row with seamer Doug Bracewell, despite coming through a 50-over match on Wednesday after missing the first two Tests with a foot injury, overlooked.

The series is tied at 0-0.

New Zealand: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Dean Brownlie, Brendon McCullum (capt), BJ Watling, Tim Southee, Bruce Martin, Neil Wagner, Trent Boult. 12th man: Doug Bracewell.

England: Alastair Cook (capt), Nick Compton, Jonathan Trott, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Johnny Bairstow, Matt Prior, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Steven Finn, Monty Panesar. 12th man: Chris Woakes.

Brad Walter: League. Warriors coach Matt Elliott has confirmed the club's interest in Todd Carney but believes the NSW Origin five-eighth is likely to stay at Cronulla.

Elliott, who coached Carney at Canberra, said he spoke to him late last year about whether he was interested in coming to New Zealand, but Carney told him that he was happy to stay at the Sharks.

"I was seen with Todd when his girlfriend, Lauren Eagle, fought at the Fight For Life [in December] and it was reported then that we were trying to sign him," Elliott told Fairfax Media.. "I have known Todd since he was 15, so we're reasonably close.

"I'll be frank; at the time I was chatting about it and he said his preference was to stay at Cronulla, he was really settled there. He loves living in the area and it's where Lauren lives. He said if anything changes he'd let me know.

"I spoke to him two weeks ago. He rang me to pick my spirits up after the Parramatta game, so we speak reasonably regularly and we didn't discuss him coming here."

Elliott said that if Carney was interested in a move to the Warriors he was confident Carney would let him know. "He'll speak to me, if that's the case. I know he will."

Georgina Robinson: Rugby. All eyes are on Ireland at the moment where head coach Declan Kidney and his assistants, including former Kangaroo and Waratahs assistant coach Les Kiss and South African Gert Smal, have been called into panel reviews to account for the side's poor Six Nations performance.

Early in the week the only potential successors to Kidney, should he be dumped by the IRFU, were Kiss and Leinster coach Joe Schmidt (a Kiwi). But since news trickled out of the departure of Reds coach Ewen McKenzie, the Irish and British media are throwing his name into the mix as well.

Here's the latest from the Emerald Isle, where Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip concedes Kidney's future is out of the players' hands:

Kung Fu. And on the topic of Kung Fu kicks - here's the most in/famous one.

League. What do you think about Billy Slater's kung fu move?

Poll: Should Billy Slater be charged for kicking David Klemmer last night?

Poll form
  1. Please select an answer.
  2. View results
Yes - it's dangerous jumping in the air and leading with a foot

47%

No - it was accidental

53%

Total votes: 3126.

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Poll closed 23 Mar, 2013

Disclaimer:

These polls are not scientific and reflect the opinion only of visitors who have chosen to participate.

League. Chief league writer Adrian Proszenko was first to break the news of coach Shane Flanagan's meeting with the Cronulla board this morning.

Today's back page.

Today's back page.

Here’s today’s back page. Michael Chammas had the story on the aftermath to an injury suffered by Isaac Gordon that lead to Stephen Dank being dismissed from Cronulla.

Ben Coady: Welcome to SportsDay Live. Billy Slater put the moves on the Bulldogs last night - unfortunately it was a karate move. And we’re waiting to find out who will lead Australia - in Delhi, not Canberra - this morning.

Sort comments by:
  • Bill Brown was the first Queensland born test captain, He was born in Toowoomba in 1912.

    Commenter
    Mark from Brookfield
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 2:28PM
  • That's crap. If there was no rule for being tackled in the air then it's understandable to protect yourself, however the rule is there and referee's are there to uphold them and its not up to the players. This is dangerous play. Often high tackles aren't deliberate... but they can still lead to suspensions. This is more deliberate than most high tackles. They need to make it a rule to stop it in future. You can't kick people in the face, and you don't need to jump like that.

    More light heartedly... Manchester United fans everywhere are fuming that he was let off and they still are out of the Champions League

    Commenter
    C
    Location
    Los Shire
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 2:05PM
  • St.Billy. I listened to the Nine commentary last night. Talk about 'man love'. Positively gushing (again!) they were. Well anyway, the lesson to be learnt (are you listening kids?): when taking the high ball, jump high whilst leaning back. Extend one leg, studs up. No one will be able to get near you. If an opposition player does happen to get within three feet of the ball they will faceplant your studs. In that case, it will be their fault for, er, "tackling the player mid-flight". Amen.

    Commenter
    suburban dad
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 1:59PM
  • Well, if players in the NRL can't shoulder charge anymore, how are the punters going to get their fill of big spectacular hits? Flying karate kicks & jumping elbows to the head are just a slight move towards a more MMA-based game. We've had the wrestling for ages now, the players are just adding a few new strikes to their arsenal.

    Commenter
    ali
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 1:13PM
  • Trust Billy to get off scot free, if it was anyone else that wasn't a high profile player as him they would have got weeks!!

    Commenter
    Ken
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 11:55AM
  • I'm just going to kick out wildly with my studs like this, and if you get in the way it's your own fault.

    Commenter
    Rooster Chuck
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 11:42AM
  • I want to know why the kick off for the Waratahs is so late at 4.05pm. That's much too late, especially if you have kids. The game then doesn't finish getting close to 6pm, once you get out of their and finally get the kids home with Sunday public transport, it is much too late with school the next day? 2pm would be a much better kick off. They want more people at the games, Dumb!!!!

    Commenter
    Ken
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 11:38AM
    • Geez Ken....how old are the kiddies and further, do they whinge like their Dad ??

      Commenter
      Machooka
      Location
      inner west sydney
      Date and time
      March 22, 2013, 1:00PM
    • Seriously, I have 3 kids under 10 and I could have them in bed by 7.30pm after a 4.05 kick off, and they would be complaining it was too early as they normally go to bed at 8pm!

      Gee, some people can find a problem in anything. Maybe the game should have been 7:30pm Saturday night (or worse Friday) like Fox Sports wants it to be? The Tah's have gone into bat for the fans to get these Sunday arvo games and they still whinge.

      Commenter
      ew75
      Location
      Date and time
      March 22, 2013, 2:42PM
  • Billy is notorious for this feet flinging rubbish. Honestly. This particular event should have been a minimum 2+ match suspension. Between the down-your-throat betting regimes, the ongoing and continued denials from management that a majority of it's players are drug using cheats and the protecting of 'star' players, this game has become nothing but trash. Sorry but I have boycotted the entire game and will in noway support it ever again.

    Commenter
    Liberator
    Location
    SEQLD
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 11:35AM
    • Commentators have talked about betting for ages, not to mention the "Keno Replay" sponsorship, how is Tom Waterhouse any different.

      Commenter
      C
      Location
      Los Shire
      Date and time
      March 22, 2013, 2:07PM
  • Disbeleif at the Channel nine apologists for Billy Slater planting a boot in the face of a player who "might" have tackled him in the air. If Krishan Inu had done it they would be braying for a 12 week suspension

    Commenter
    stojo01
    Location
    Zeadney
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 10:46AM
  • Im sure Billy does not mean to hurt anyone when he goes feet first into a try saving tackle..... The grub know EXACTLY what he is doing.

    Commenter
    Studs up
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 10:40AM
  • Slater has every right to protect himself, which is what he did by jumping knees up. For him then to extend his leg was just plain dangerous!

    Commenter
    DH
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 10:22AM
  • Billy the Karate Kid, is it?

    Watched the match - saw the kick - he should have been sent off.

    He looked at the bloke he kicked before he kicked him. The bloke was no-where near him and is entitled to challenge for the ball. The defender didn't go to tackle Billy - Billy came to him. Anyway, you're allowed to stand your ground and tackle him as soon as he lands - however this doesn't allow the receiver to kick someone in the throat. Not only did Billy not relax his leg or pull it away, he straightened his leg causing more problems.

    Purposeful foul - ban him for 6 months.

    Commenter
    Snidery Mark
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 10:07AM
  • Last nights contradiction commentators saying he had no intention of the foul play - yes he did.
    He is a great player, he understands the games, he can read players and referees and can milk penalties.He almost got the penalty last night when he was the one making the contact. He knew exactly what he was doing.

    oh.. and don't forget about the salary cap scandal...

    Commenter
    kingcodes
    Location
    Date and time
    March 22, 2013, 9:06AM

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