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SportsDay Live, Thursday March 7, 2013


Cronulla's drug scandal, countdown to NRL kick-off, plus news as it happens.

Wade Graham and Todd Carney arrive at Sharks Stadium for training on Thursday.

Wade Graham and Todd Carney arrive at Sharks Stadium for training on Thursday. Shark hunt ... Shattered Cronulla players are believed to be considering legal action if they are suspended for inadvertently taking performance-enhancing substances. And now a leading Australian bookmaker has suspended betting on Origin as the crisis deepens. Click here to read more. Photo: Peter Rae

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JAMES POLSON: Mea culpa (and me-a going). Apparently the Jaws gag had been done before.  I should have known.  And that faux pas is as perfect time as any to shut down SportsDay Live for the day.  Thanks as always for reading and be sure to keep an eye on for all the latest on the Sharks and everything else from the world of sport.  We'll be back at 8.30 tomorrow morning for what promises to be another big day.

Rabbitohs by 4.  It's on the record.

League.  Sharks latest.  Cronulla players and officials believe former head trainer Trent Elkin has informed the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency about the drug and supplements program which was in place during his time at the NRL club.
Sources have told Fairfax Media that Elkin, who finished his tenure at the club last year to take up a position at Parramatta, met with ASADA recently.
When contacted by Fairfax Media, Elkin refused to comment about any matter regarding his involvement with the Sharks.
Read the full story here.

Anyone for pizza?

Anyone for pizza?

Top 10: Dom Bossi counts down the worst sporting fashion faux pas.

1. Socceroos 1992
Colloquially named ‘‘the vomit strip’’ due to both it’s depiction as well as the reaction it induces from those who see it, the Socceroos 1992 jersey is the winner of this unenviable award. Football in this country has had it’s dark days, but few were as bad as when our best 11 wore a violent pastel blend of green, gold, white and everything in between. The mullets and flat-tops donned by the players only further exacerbated this kit.

Rugby. The return of prodigal son George Smith and winger Henry Speight are the only two changes made to the Brumbies line-up for their home Super Rugby clash with the NSW Waratahs this Saturday.
After a week off for the Brumbies, coach Jake White aimed to list a side as close as possible to the one that convincingly beat the Rebels 30-13 in Melbourne two weeks ago.

On this day in 1954 ... The Soviet Union appeared at their first international hockey tournament – the combined world and European championships – in Stockholm. And it turned out they could play a bit, skating away with the gold medals at the end when they stunned Canada 7-2 in the final. Represented by the East York Lyndhursts club side, the Canadians were all set to take on hosts Sweden whom they’d earlier whooped 8-0, in the decider when the Soviets squeaked through on goal difference by drawing with the Swedes. Their own Miracle on Ice.

Might as well enjoy this England pasting while we can...

Too easy?  I'm doing it anyway...

Cricket.  And in Dunedin, we've had a South African-bowler rip through a South African-born batting line-up.  If they'd hung around the Proteas would be unstoppable.

Hands up who's looking forward to Crocodile Dundee in LA

Hands up who's looking forward to Crocodile Dundee in LA

Top 10: Dom Bossi counts down the worst sporting fashion faux pas.

2. Australia, Barcelona 1992
Tacky, cheesy and ugly. Australia’s entrance on the global stage at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics had TV viewers back home hiding their faces with embarrassment. The Aussies were still trying to cash in on the success of Crocodile Dundee when they paraded around in safari shirts tucked into khaki pants while waving straw akubras. To top it off, the entire team wore matching long beige socks and brown school shoes. A sad day for Australian sport. 

Rugby.  The Queensland Reds have thrown Nick Frisby (see what I did there?) in at the deep end for Friday's clash with the Rebels.  The derby will be the Australian under-20 utility's run-on debut and is one of three changes Ewen McKenzie has made following their lucky win over the Highlanders last week.  Jono Lance will be the side's third No.15 in as many matches, while Saia Faingaa returns from his hand injury at the expense of Chris Feauai-Sautia.

DOMINIC BOSSI: Football. The FoxKopter will be back in April as the aerial camera will capture the A-League finals series as well as the upcoming rugby league season. The helicopter can fly up to 125 metres and can move in as close five metres from the players. The chopper is operated by a remote control and it’s hoped that the man behind the joystick is prepared to avoid getting in the way of Johnathan Thurston’s bombs and Central Coast Mariners' wayward attempts from the spot.

League.  In distressing news, The Sun is reporting that former Shark Brett Seymour's Sunday car crash may have in fact been a suicide attempt.  Seymour, who has been with Hull FC since last season, hit two parked cars before flipping his BMW.
“I’m suffering from severe shock that my husband was so desperate and could attempt such a horrific thing," his wife told a Facebook group of supporters.

Cricket.  For the spiteful cricket fan it doesn't get much better than today.  First the Poms get skittled and now the Blues have Victoria well and truly on the ropes at 8/55 on day one of their Sheffield Shield clash at the MCG.  The Bushrangers won the toss and elected to bat but slumped to 6/50 before lunch.  Returning quick (and fellow product of the Northern Tablelands) Josh Hazlewood has taken three wickets and will no doubt continue to push his case for an Australian call-up.

PHIL LUTTON: League. Almost 100 Wests Tigers players have travelled to Brisbane to pay their respects to under-20s star Mosese Fotuaika, who was found dead in his Sydney townhouse last week.
The shattered players and staff joined family and friends at a service in the Brisbane bayside suburb of Cleveland to honour Fotuaika, a talented player who had just been added to the Tigers 25-man NRL squad.
Read the full story here.

Cricket.  Hinds looking on the bright side as always.


League. Sportingbet has re-opened betting on Sunday’s Cronulla v Gold Coast NRL match.

AFL. Carlton are confident star midfielder Chris Judd will be a certain starter for their   round one clash with Richmond despite his absence from the NAB Cup.The former skipper was again left out of the Blues side to face Adelaide at AAMI Stadium on Friday night. Training strongly in the heat at Visy Park on Thursday, the club says Judd  will definitely play next week - either in the decider or in a practice match against another AFL club.

Cricket.  England are all out for 167 in Dunedin.  Bruce Martin was the pick of the bowlers on debut, taking 4-43 from his 14 overs while Neil 'Robert' Wagner chipped in with 4-42.   Only Jonathan Trott can hold his head high for the Poms, making 45.

So if England thrashed India, and New Zealand rolled England.... Enjoy this moment sports fans.  Another great Kiwi effort we'll happily claim.  Cheers bros.

JAMES POLSON: Paul Suttor's definition of 'the next couple of hours' is about as good as his footy team are going to go this year.  Be that as it may, I'm in the chair now as Sutts cries into his orange mocha frappucino and will continue to bring you the day's news as it unfolds.

Surfing. World surfing champion Stephanie Gilmore has used her power surfing skills to be one of three Australians advancing to the semi-finals of the season-opening event on the Gold Coast. Gilmore scored a near-perfect 9.80 barrel ride on Thursday to defeat Hawaii’s Alana Blanchard in the quarter-finals as the event was transferred to Kirra Point. Riding the Kirra break for the first time in a competition, five-time world champion Gilmore scored 12.97 out of 20 to easily account for Blanchard (5.06) and reach the final four. In challenging conditions, fellow Australians Tyler Wright and Sally Fitzgibbons also progressed to the semis, boosting hopes of a local winner

PAUL SUTTOR: Shane Brady's having a breather so I've taken over the blog duties for the next couple of hours. As the Herald's resident Sharks supporter, I can say the jokes about "they can't take our premierships away" are officially not funny.

Rugby. Wallabies coach Robbie Deans says Israel Folau is ''not that far away'' from making a shock Test debut against the British and Irish Lions in June. The 25-man Wallabies squad is picked three weeks out from the first Test on June 22. ''Well, he's not that far away. He's on the radar.''His entry into union has been very good. It's not easy going from AFL to union, so he's shown enough encouraging signs and we'll just keep watching."

Cricket: Danish Kaneria’s lifetime ban for match-fixing could be quashed at his appeal hearing after it emerged Mervyn Westfield, the star witness in the case, has "disappeared".

A source has described Westfield as “disappearing off the scene” over the past few months as the the England and Wales Cricket Board looks to defend their case against Kaneria, whose appeal hearing is scheduled for April 22.

Kaneria’s lawyers have said they will appeal to the High Court to have a deadline set for the hearing if the date in April is moved again.

Kaneria was banned for life by the ECB and declared a “danger to cricket” after being named at the Old Bailey as the player who corrupted Essex teammate Westfield, who was imprisoned for four months last year for accepting money to underperform in a one-day match in 2009.

Read the full report here

League: Elijah Taylor will leave the Warriors at the end of this season, agreeing to a three-year deal at Penrith, reports
The move continues a theme of former Warriors coach Ivan Cleary signing up New Zealand talent.

Taylor, a Kiwis Test player, will join his old Warriors teammate Lewis Brown at the Panthers.

Dean Whare, Sika Manu, Mose Masoe and Matt Robinson are other New Zealanders at the western Sydney club where Cleary took charge last year, operating a major rebuild under the guidance of master coach Phil Gould.

The versatile Taylor has been shifted to hooker for the Warriors season-opener against the Eels on Saturday.

Football: A David vs Goliath battle looms in London ...

Leyton Orient have started a legal fight against the decision to allow West Ham United to move into London’s Olympic Stadium.

Orient, who play in England’s third tier League One, are the nearest club to the Olympic Stadium in east London, and have long been concerned about the potential impact of a Premier League side moving to the site.

Orient signalled their willingness to ground-share at the £429 million ($637 million) venue but the club’s owner, Barry Hearn, the leading British sports promoter, has become alarmed by the prospect of West Ham becoming the sole football side based at the stadium.

Ground-sharing, while common in Europe, with the likes of Italian giants AC Milan and Inter Milan both playing at the city’s San Siro stadium, is a rarity in England.

On this day … in 1951: Ezzard Charles beat Jersey Joe Walcott on points to retain the world heavyweight boxing title. It was the second instalment in a great rivalry between the two. The classy Cincinnati Cobra, who punched his way up from middleweight through light-heavyweight to take on the big boppers, had beaten Walcott three years earlier to win the vacant NBA world title. The pair would slug it out through four epic bouts in three years with Walcott prevailing in the last two. He was the only on to score a knockout, although he did survive a nine count in their second fight. Charles fought a staggering 119 pro bouts, and not surprisingly didn’t live to a ripe old age, dying at 53. Here they are going at it in fight three just a few months later ... 

Football: Sydney FC have been dealt a blow with injury ruling Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill out of their crucial A-League clash against Central Coast Mariners on Saturday.

Sydney FC revealed on Thursday defender Neill would be out for at least a week after he was diagnosed with a minor calf muscle tear.

The setback, which came after Neill was unable to complete the morning training session, took some gloss off news that captain Terry McFlynn had been re-signed for another year.

Cricket: England 8-119! Stuart Broad out caught on the boundary for 10 off Bruce Martin, who has 3-20. Not that we care or anything.

Cricket: In Dunedin, England have slumped to 7-114 on day of the4 first Test against New Zealand. They're into the tail with choirboy Stuart Broad (6) and Steve Finn (0) at the crease. Johnathan Trott the only England batsman to make a score was last out on 45. The Poms' wickets are clumping like Alice Cooper's mascara. Or like Michael Clarke's top order.


Cricket: Summer's over but there's an awful lot of cricket on ...

In the Shield, Victoria have won the toss and will bat against NSW at the MCG.

Warm conditions and a good pitch awaited the players as the Shield season comes to its climax.

Top-of-the-table Victoria included fast bowlers Jayde Herrick and John Hastings, with spinner Clive Rose to carry the drinks.

NSW made leg-spinner Adam Zampa their 12th man.


Victoria: Cameron White (c), Fawad Ahmed, Peter Handscomb, John Hastings, Jayde Herrick, Michael Hill, David Hussey, Clint McKay, Rob Quiney, Chris Rogers, Will Sheridan. Clive Rose (12th man).

NSW: Ben Rohrer (c), Trent Copeland, Doug Bollinger, David Dawson, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Scott Henry, Nic Maddinson, Peter Nevill, Steve O’Keefe, Gurinder Sandhu. Adam Zampa (12th man).

Top 10: Dom Bossi counts down the worst sporting fashion faux pas.

3. The Beige Bombers

So they might not be from Australia but when has that ever stopped us from taking credit? New Zealand’s ‘‘beige on brown’’ 1980’s cricket kit was a moment to forget for sports fashion and was so bad that they resorted to wearing black for a game played for hours in the sun. This awful kit is making somewhat of a comeback among New Zealand cricket fans, perhaps out of irony, sarcasm or an affection for bad taste.

League: Sharks scandal update ... Gold Coast players say they’ll prepare for Sunday’s NRL opener against Cronulla as normal despite the doping controversy engulfing their round 1 opponents.

As many as 14 Sharks players are reportedly being urged to accept six-month suspensions over an Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency investigation of NRL clubs.

But the Titans say they know as much as anyone else about the nature of the allegations and are preparing to face a full-strength Sharks this weekend.

Titans chief executive David May has also said no one at the club has been contacted by authorities in relation to the investigation.

Cycling: Overnight American cyclist Andrew Talansky of the Garmin team won the third stage of the Paris-Nice classic on Wednesday and took the overall lead after a six-man breakaway held off the peloton following 170.5km between Chatel-Guyon and Brioude.

The 24-year-old edged out escape partners Davide Malacarne of Italy and Spaniard Gorka Izagirre on a wet afternoon as he picked up his biggest career win and also took the overall lead.

Sky’s David Lopez of Spain, Australia’s Richie Porte and French rider Romain Bardet also came home with the same time as Talansky while seventh-placed Andriy Grivko of the Ukraine is now second overall at 3 seconds.

Talansky, who finished seventh on the Tour of Spain, also says the recent confesssion by former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong that he cheated his way to the top has liberated the sport.

Athletics: Former Olympic high jump gold medallist Tia Hellebaut has hung up the spikes.

The Belgian, 35, who won gold in 2008 at Beijing, competed for the final time at the European Indoor Championships in Gothenburg, finishing eighth.

Speaking on her website she said:  ‘‘When I look back on what I have achieved, I think the only right decision to make now is finally to quit.’’

Hellebaut finished fifth in London last year. Watch her leap like a gazelle here at Beijing. Such grace and power ...

Rugby: Georgina Robinson reports that Wallabies coach Robbie Deans held court at ARU HQ this morning and had a few interesting things to say, particularly about league-AFL-union convert Israel Folau.

Deans confirmed Folau was on his radar for the British and Irish Lions series in June.

‘‘He's not that far away [from a complete game], he's on the radar," he said. "He's not the only one but the points of difference will be small. It might come down to how we piece it all together. But his entry into union has been very good. It's not easy to go from AFL to union so he's shown enough really encouraging signs and we'll just keep watching."

Folau needed to improve in the contact area, Deans said, but had the benefit of big game experience from his league days, including Origin matches and internationals.

"He's a bloke who's not going to be daunted by the occasion [of a Lions Test match], it's very much around habits in many ways, whether he can master those instinctive responses fast enough, but there's 15 rounds of Super Rugby [to go]."

Cricket: More from Dunedin ... South African-born fast bowler Neil Wagner made a dream start to his first match for New Zealand on home soil as England battled to 5-81 at lunch on the second day of the first Test in Dunedin.

After being reduced to 3-18, the tourists hobbled to the break after a dominant morning session for the hosts which followed the first-day washout on Wednesday.

Relishing helpful conditions on his home ground, University Oval, left-armer Wagner claimed the key wickets of Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen off the second and third balls of his opening over.

Playing his fourth Test and his first on home soil, Wagner later removed Ian Bell for 24 to register figures of 3-38 off 10 overs and fully justify his call-up in the place of injured seamer Doug Bracewell.

On this day … in 1952: The Master Blaster Viv Richards was born in Antigua. Sir Viv, the King, call him what you like but he embodied Calypso cricket in the Windies’ heyday before it went collapso. With the swagger, the bling, the gum, the grin and that SS Jumbo, he lit up World Series Cricket like no other, even in those pink pyjamas. While best remembered for his one-day exploits with bat and ball here, Viv played 121 Tests, averaging 50, and scored 25 tons, his best 291 in England in 1976. All without a helmet. He could talk the talk as well, with his sledge to County bowler Greg Thomas rated among the best. Viv had played and missed a couple, so Thomas said: “It’s red, it’s round, now f------ hit it!” Viv obliged, sending the next one out of the ground and Thomas after it, with this: “You know what it looks like, now go and get it!” Here he goes again …


League: James Polson weighs in on the Sharks scandal ...

Rugby league is the Keith Richards of Australian sport. If two decades of almost non-stop scandal haven’t killed the game, nothing will. 

The biggest question for me is if these players were offered six-month bans immediately, and the level of evidence was considered compelling enough to do so, why has the ARLC failed to act? 

And on another note, how hard-done-by must the likes of Ben Kennedy and Wendell Sailor be feeling right now?

Cricket: At lunch on day two of the first Test in Dunedin England are 5-81. Johnathan Trott is on 40 and Matt Prior 1.

League: Brad Walter feels for the players involved ...

The Sharks players have been placed in a terrible position where they are being asked to plead guilty to something they don't believe they deserve to be penalised for and accept a six month ban without a hearing.

If they choose to fight the allegations, they risk two-year suspensions and the end of their careers for many of them.

With questions about whether or not the substances the players allegedly took in 2011 were even on the banned list at the time and suggestions the players were told they were OK, we are still a long way from fully understanding what happened.

League: And here's Sebastian Hassett on the scandal ...

Although there's no question that while Australia is on the cutting edge of sports science, a rogue few have clearly been going too far in search of finding that "extra 10 per cent".

While it would be naive to think Cronulla's administrators and players were unaware of the limits being pushed, we're still waiting to find out whether they willingly embraced the program or whether it was something they were honestly believed was within the rules.

After all, the power some sports scientists have at NRL clubs has to be seen to be believed.

Either way, from here, athletes simply must know the content of everything that enters their bodies - no excuses. Not knowing is not good enough.

League: David Sygall on his gut reaction to the Sharks doping scandal ...
When I heard the news I thought about two things: are all those who said the Australian Crime Commission report was a stunt and hammered the authorities for not "naming names" going to apologise? Second thing: if the Sharks are in really big trouble, will they be stripped of, ahem, all their premierships?

Golf: World No.1 Rory McIlroy has apologised for walking off the course in the middle of his second round at last week’s PGA Honda Classic, saying he’s learnt from the error and will not do it again.

McIlroy said he made a big blunder by leaving early.‘‘I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t the right thing to do,’’ he said. ‘‘No matter how bad I was playing I should have stayed out there.’’

Starting on the back nine in his second round last week, McIlroy had two bogeys, a double bogey and a triple bogey before hitting his tee shot at the 18th into the water and walking off the course.

‘‘I wasn’t in a good place with my golf game. My head was all over the place,’’ said McIlroy, who blamed the walkoff later on a sore wisdom tooth.

‘‘It was a mistake. Everybody makes mistakes,’’ McIlroy said. ‘‘Most of my mistakes are in the public eye.‘‘I’m 23. I’m still learning. I have learned from it and it won’t happen again.’’

Football: Dominic Bossi reports that the goal-line referees used in this morning’s UEFA Champions League knock-out games could soon be gracing the A-league.
Fairfax Media understands that the FFA is looking to provide more support for referees and the addition of goal-line assistance is emerging as the favoured option.
Goal-line technology is admired by The FFA but is not a realistic option at this stage as it costs well in excess of $100,000 for each stadium.
The governing body will meet with clubs as early as next month to discuss upgrades to the A-league.

League: Adrian Proszenko has more on the fallout from the Sharks doping investigation...

The drugs in sport controversy has spread to rugby league's showpiece event, with a leading Australian bookmaker suspending betting on the State of Origin series.

Betstar has suspended game one and series betting on the interstate games amid fears Cronulla players in contention for selection may be stood down for the season.

Read the full report here

On this day … in 1987: "Iron" Mike Tyson had some competition for the back page that day when Sunil Gavaskar became first batsman to score 10,000 Test runs. The original Little Master passed the milestone in his farewell series at home against Pakistan as he notched 63 in the fourth Test. He was denied a fairytale ending when out for 96 in the fifth Test as Pakistan snatched victory and the series. Gavaskar is now a top ICC official and commentator, dual roles that have attracted some conflict like our own Eddie McGuire. If you haven’t seen enough Indian batting lately, here he is …

Paintball ... Manly's Anzac Day jersey modelled by the only person foolish enough to buy one.

Paintball ... Manly's Anzac Day jersey modelled by the only person foolish enough to buy one. Photo: Anthony Johnson AWJ

Top 10: Dom Bossi counts down his sporting fashion faux pas.

4. Manly Anzac Day jersey 2012
Manly’s attempt to display their solidarity with returning serviceman might have been a nice gesture but it resulted in one of Rugby League’s most shocking strips. This light brown camouflage jersey was so ugly that some media pundits labelled it as ‘‘insulting’’ to ANZAC Day. They eyesore strip might have even repulsed the Bulldogs, who lost narrowly to the Sea Eagles 10-12 in round eight last year.

Cricket: No make that 5-71! Joe Root edged one to slip off Trent Boult to be gone for 4. They might not need four days at this rate.

Cricket: Over the ditch in Dunedin, England are in strife at 4-71 on the second (first really) day of the first Test against Black Caps. The Sherminator Ian Bell was last man out for 24. Earlier Kevin Pietersen was out for a golden duck as the Kiwis got off to a flyer. Paceman Neil Wagner has 3-30. Johnathan Trott is on 31 with a bloke called Joe Root at the other end on 4.

Go you Kiwis!

Shane Brady here to guide you through the morning session to lunch on a day of high drama and excitement for the greatest game of all, and a ball hasn’t even been kicked yet. Not long now though. In the meantime, any park footballers out there who fancy themselves against the Titans should turn up with their boots at Sharks training pronto.

'Sonny' Phil MItchell: League. Here's a form guide for tonight's Sydney Roosters v Souths Sydney round 1 match with 'Sonny' Phil Mitchell's preview.

Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Thursday 8.05pm (AEDT)
Last meeting: Round 19 2012 - Souths 24 bt Roosters 22 at Allianz Stadium
Head-to-head: Roosters 93 Souths 107 drawn 5
Referees: Ben Cummins, Chris James
TV: Channel 9, live
TAB Sportsbet: Roosters $2.20 Souths $1.70
FootyTab: Roosters +3.5

Phil Mitchell’s preview:  Ever since the season draw was announced on November 23, Roosters and Souths fans have been looking forward to this day like a child counts down the days until Christmas.

These foundation clubs have despised each other since 1908 and the first appearance of high-priced import Sonny Bill Williams in Roosters colours will only fuel the hatred. SBW heads an impressive off-season spending spree that also netted the tricolours international pair Michael Jennings and Luke O’Donnell and lively five-eighth James Maloney.
Big name recruit ... James Maloney of the Roosters.

The Rabbitohs, meanwhile, had a relatively low-key off-season. Last year, the Roosters won the corresponding encounter in the final minute before the Rabbitohs returned the favour later in the season.

AFL. Essendon is not commenting on the ramifications of the crisis at NRL club Cronulla for the Bombers.

"What happens at other clubs and in other codes has no bearing on us," an Essendon spokesman said on Thursday.

Roy Masters: League. The Roosters were at the second coaches meeting with referees' boss Daniel Anderson, held last week before Thursday night's much-anticipated season-opener between the foundation clubs, while the Rabbitohs were not.

Perhaps Souths coach Michael Maguire reasons that whatever interpretations referees have this first round, those same interpretations will be abandoned in a month.

Basketball. After the LA Lakers were beaten 122-105 by Oklahama City Thunder, Kobe Bryant posted this on Twitter.

League. Should the NRL stand down the Cronulla players under investigation by ASADA?

Poll: Should the NRL stand down the Cronulla players under investigation by ASADA?

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On this day ... in 1987: Introduced as “Iron” Mike Tyson for the first time, the youngest world heavyweight champion survives a late shot from James “Bonecrusher” Smith to defend his WBC world title and add the WBA belt to it.

Tyson, 20, won the dance-off against a much older and taller Smith, bent on survival, by unanimous points decision after 12 rounds in Las Vegas. It was also Smith’s first title defence, and that was as good as it got for the big man.

League. Cronulla fans, you may be feeling depressed, but it could be worse - you could be James Polson - the 'star' of the SportsDay Live promo.

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Rupert Guinness: Cycling. Five months have passed since Matt White confessed to doping as a rider on the US Postal Service team then led by Lance Armstrong.

While he has been sacked as Cycling Australia national men's road coach and Orica-GreenEDGE's head sports director, his future remains in limbo - until there is a ruling on his case by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority, with whom he is understood to have co-operated fully.

Adrian Proszenko: League. The face of the game is in rehab and a club could be torn asunder in yet another scandal ... it must be the start of the NRL season.

When po-faced sporting officials were corralled to front the cameras on the 'darkest day in Australian sport', it was unclear how much, ahem, substance, there was to the story.

Now it appears Cronulla could pay a very heavy price. The players have some very big decisions to make. I've made one myself ... I've changed my tip to the Gold Coast this weekend.

League. Don't forget to get your tips in for round 1 of the NRL. Michael Chammas has been boasting that he's on top of the table (he hasn't realised yet that it's done in alphabetical order).

Click here to see out panel's tips.

Football. Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain booked their places in the quarter-finals of the European Champions League on Wednesday.

Juventus completed a 5-0 aggregate rout of Celtic with a comfortable 2-0 win on the night in Turin while Paris Saint-Germain moved into the last eight with a 1-1 draw with Valencia at home to go through 3-2 on aggregate.

League. Make sure you catch up with The Phil Gould Show (featuring faithful sidekick Jacko).


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Why the Bulldogs will struggle without Ben Barba while Souths and the Roosters are tipped for the top.

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Brad Walter: League. NRL officials are set to finalise a television deal with Sky New Zealand this morning that will enable Kiwi fans to watch Sonny Bill Williams return to the game for Sydney Roosters in tonight's season opener against South Sydney.

There had been anger across the Tasman over the stand off between the NRL and the pay tv broadcaster over a new rights deal.

It is believed the NRL had wanted an increased deal from $14 million per season to $20 million but Sky had been reluctant to pay more for the rights.

However, an in principle agreement was reached on Wednesday night and the deal will be finalised today.

Sebastian Hassett:

Football. Sydney FC will announce later today that they have re-signed three players - goalkeeper Ivan Necevski, midfielder Peter Triantis and, most tellingly, captain Terry McFlynn.
McFlynn looked to be on the scrapheap earlier this season when he was dropped from the first team but has doggedly fought his way back into contention. He is the only foundation player still left with the Sky Blues.

Steve Mascord: League. The ASADA investigation at Cronulla give us an insight into just how much infrastructure we really need to put around the NRL so that it operates with integrity and transparency in this punting-crazy world.

Football. Matilda and Sydney FC player Caitlin Foord has signed with the US National Women’s Soccer League’s New Jersey side Sky Blue FC, where she will play with fellow Matilda Lisa De Vanna.

‘‘Caitlin is a player who has a lot of potential,’’ Sky Blue FC head coach Jim Gabarra said in a statement on Wednesday.

‘‘She is someone who grew up playing forward and converted into being a right defender, so she fits well into the system that we want our wide defenders to play. She is someone who is willing to get into the attack, and she also provides good recovery speed and makes her defensive presence felt.’’

Foord, who has played for Sydney FC in the W-League since 2010, began her international career in 2007 in Australia’s Under-17 side.She achieved her first cap with the full Australian national team in May 2011, scoring a goal in her debut against New Zealand.

White and brown ... the Panthers jersey.

White and brown ... the Panthers jersey.

Dom Bossi: Top 10. Yesterday we started the countdown of the Top 10 worst sporting kits worn by Australian teams. Here's number 5.

Penrith Panthers current kit is unrecognisable from their early inaugural strip and that’s perhaps for the better. Since 1967 the Panthers have toyed with a  number of brown and white designs and they hit rock bottom in the mid 80s. Their final design in that colour scheme was predominantly white with brown sleeves and trimming which was squirmish even by the low standards set by the ‘‘chocolate soldiers.’’

Surfing. The opening event of the men’s world surfing tour on the Gold Coast is poised to be moved from Rainbow Bay to Kirra.

Organisers will make a call on Thursday morning whether to shift the second round of the Quiksilver Pro.

League. Wonder if any Sharks players have woken up in a cold sweat during the past week hearing this?

Flea gold ... an employee of Ginza Tanaka poses beside the golden replica of football star Lionel Messi of Argentine's left foot during its press preview in Tokyo.

Flea gold ... an employee of Ginza Tanaka poses beside the golden replica of football star Lionel Messi of Argentine's left foot during its press preview in Tokyo. Photo: AFP

Football. A pure gold replica of Lionel Messi’s left foot has been unveiled in Tokyo.

The foot, which is valued at $5.25 million, was created by Japanese jeweller Ginza Tanaka to commemorate the footballer’s achievements.

Messi’s brother Rodrigo, who attended a news conference for the unveiling of the gold foot on Wednesday, said: ‘‘It’s exceptional. You can see each line in the foot. It’s an impressive piece of work.’’

Paul Suttor: League. Rugby league is a resilient game and even if this drugs drama is the tip of the iceberg, the game won't be sunk. The ARL Commission must show leadership to help Cronulla where possible as it appears the players and management have been let down by the actions of a couple of staff members they trusted.

Football. A teenage Manchester United fan who dialled police to report a referee for the ‘‘crime’’ of sending off Nani during his side’s Champions League defeat by Real Madrid has apologised.

The 18-year-old, who has not been named, was watching at home when, like thousands of United fans at Old Trafford he was incensed by Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir’s decision to show a red card to Nani.

Today's front and back pages are dominated by the Cronulla story. Adrian Proszenko reported on how the investigation has rocked the NRL on the eve of the kick-off, and Glenn Jackson and Brad Walter had the story about Cronulla players considering legal action if they are banned for inadvertently taking illegal substances.

Ben Coady: Welcome to SportsDay live. We'll be keeping you up to date with any developments in the Cronulla drug investigation, plus any news on the countdown to the NRL round 1 kick-off between the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney (Michael Chammas hasn't been this excited since he watched the latest Justin Beiber clip on YouTube). Plus news as it happens.

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  • Sick and tired of sports such as cycling and league getting bashed by the doping controls only to see days and weeks go by with little more done than announce and accuse. This puts a negative light on the 90 plus percent of clean sports people. NOT FAIR ASADA!!

    AJ 74
    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 6:59PM
  • So the Sharks are being asked to take a 6 month suspension for taking 2 peptides in 2011 that WERE NOT on the World AntiDoping list in 2011 (they have since been added).
    Is that the story?

    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 3:06PM
  • Sadly, this Cronulla affair won't be the last we hear about this, I can see clubs going under in the not too distant future, I suspect sponsors have had a gutfull. Two of the NRL's major issues is living in the past and poor management.

    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 2:22PM
  • This whole witchhunt by ASADA is a joke. Links to organised crime, drug dealers? Why don't they investigate and prosecute the drug dealers and the organised criminals, that's what I would like to see, rather than flaying alive ignorant footballers who slip up. What a waste of resources and tax payers money. And maybe they should examine their own testing protocol and communications over all these matters. They are the ones responsible for overseeing the regime. If there have been oversights then they are likely as responsible as anyone. Execrable glory hunters.

    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 1:57PM
  • Central Coast Sharks. Perfect fit

    North of Sydney
    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 1:23PM
  • Spotted 2 ASADA officials at the SFS around 10am this morning

    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 12:29PM
  • With the Aussie cricket teams recent performance and Englands current endeavours it looks like the Ashes could produce the first ever Nil All score in cricket.

    up north
    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 11:56AM
  • Sharkies can't buy a trick. Are they the poster team for rugby leagues systemic problems!?

    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 9:17AM
  • Love Cronulla during both the good and the bad times.... If we are made to be the scapegoat will never watch league again...

    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 8:51AM
    • If they were using the wrong thing and get caught then they aren't scapegoats they are guilty. Whilst I would hate to see a club, any club, get ripped apart - the rules are pretty clear.,All professional athletes know that they are responsible for what they put into their body - ignorance is not a defence.

      up north
      Date and time
      March 07, 2013, 11:43AM
  • Looking at the Sharks record for 2011, if I was a player I would be suing whoever called them supplaments performance enhancing cause they were woeful.

    up north
    Date and time
    March 07, 2013, 8:34AM
    • rossco, do you expect that NRL players have enough medical training to understand the substances they are being provided by their clubs? In case you have never heard of the term fiduciary duty, you might want to look it up...

      uncle jack
      Date and time
      March 07, 2013, 1:50PM
    • @ uncle jack, no I do not expect them to understand what they are being asked to inject. I expect them to get advice from experts they trust. According to reports Dank had been relieved of duties by the Sharkies doctor and players continued to use him....the clubs fidicuiry duty was executed when they let the good Mr Dank go - unless of course the club had actively allowed and encouraged the illegal substances to be used - then yes the players would have a case against the club - however the players would still be guilty,albeit with mitigating circumstances, of using banned substances. WADA covers accidental injestion. Professional athletes are well aware of the risk they take when taking medication or unknown supplements - to think otherwise is naive at best. Shane Warnes case was a wake up call to teams all through Australia.

      up north
      Date and time
      March 07, 2013, 2:18PM

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