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SportsDay Live, Wednesday March 20, 2013

Date

ASADA to interview 31 NRL players over investigation into doping.

NRL chief executive Dave Smith has announced 31 NRL players will be interviewed by ASADA as part of the drugs investigation into the sport. <a href="http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-league/league-news/asada-to-interview-31-nrl-players-20130320-2gext.html?rand=1363746968817"><b>Read full report here</b></a>

NRL chief executive Dave Smith has announced 31 NRL players will be interviewed by ASADA as part of the drugs investigation into the sport. Read full report here Photo: Anthony Johnson

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That's it for another edition of the SportsDay Live blog, thanx for your company on this busy Wednesday. We'll be back at 830am tomorrow with all the sporting news from the many corners of the globe as it happens plus we'll be live blogging tomorrow night's NRL grand final rematch blockbuster between the Storm and Bulldogs from Melbourne. If only James Graham was playing, that'd send a few flutters through the hearts (and ears) of the Melbourne side.

WINNER!!! We have a winner for the 2 tickets to the Waratahs' game against the Blues on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. The tickets go to Man On The Couch at Bronte who had the most astute (without defaming any members of the Tahs camp) advice for the team, as ruled by the pre-eminent SportsDay Live judging panel. 

"Waratahs, Play the game in front of you, not the one in your training manual. Oh and defend like you mean it."

Congrats MOTC@B, we'll be getting in contact with you via the magic of email to get you the tickets.

On this day in 1952 … racing car driver Geoff Brabham was born in Sydney. Like his famous father Jack, he built a career around driving really, really fast. A winner of the Le Mans 24 Hour enduro and the Bathurst 1000, his career was mainly based in the US driving where he finished fourth at the famous Indy 500. No racing car driver's resume is complete unless it has a spectacular crash. Here's one of Brabham's best ... 

League. ARL chief executive Dave Smith ... "This is the most comprehensive picture ASADA has been able to provide to date and it is the result of some significant work on their part. ASADA has made it clear that we are not looking at orchestrated issues involving a number of clubs. Their inquiries are focusing more towards a number of individuals who have acted independently. People need to remember that ASADA is still in an investigative stage and at this point we are not talking about any breach having been established nor any players or officials being charged. The investigators have also been at pains to point out that the request to interview around 30 players does not mean all of those players are under direct suspicion.Nobody should be pre-judged and the NRL will not stand down any player until there is sufficient evidence for an infraction notice to be issued.”

On this day in 1986 …  Wests Tigers forward Adam Blair was born. The Kiwi international was unlucky not to win the Clive Churchill Medal for his powerhouse performance in the Melbourne Storm’s 2007 grand final win. His switch to the Tigers for the 2012 season caused a lot of consternation at his new club with fans angry club stalwarts Bryce Gibbs and Andrew Fifita were moved on to accommodate Blair. His debut season for the Tigers was underwhelming and with Keith Galloway out for a large chunk of 2013, the pressure will be on Blair to lead from the front. He missed the 2011 finals series after his part in the infamous DonnyBrookvale fisticuffs with Glenn Stewart

Cricket. Off-spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell could come back into the selection frame for the fourth Test against India starting on Friday on a turning track in Delhi. The 24-year-old claimed 4-127 off 26 overs and scored 13 and eight on debut in the second Test in Hyderabad but was dumped for the third Test in Mohali, where Australia lost by six wickets to go three-nil down in the four-match series. The Times of India newspaper on Wednesday declared a slow-turner was on the cards for the fourth Test. ‘‘The black soil that the curators often use there doesn’t help the ball to bounce much and the surface cracks quickly,’’ the newspaper said.

Not sure if you've noticed but when Peter Fitzsimons has an opinion, he's occasionally inclined to express it ... 

Swimming. Swimming Australia says Leigh Nugent has quit as the nation’s head coach. But Swimming Australia’s president Barclay Nettlefold denies reports Nugent has been sacked says he still wants to be involved in a revamped high performance program.

On this day in 1984 … Spanish football star Fernando Torres was born. After playing more than 200 matches for his hometown team Atletico Madrid, he switched to Liverpool in 2007 where he scored 65 goals in 102 appearances, including a golden 2007-08 season in which he scored 29 goals in all competitions. A member of Spain’s 2010 World Cup-winning side, he signed with Chelsea in 2011 but has been unable to recapture his goal-scoring best in blue. 

Golf. Does all this Tiger Woods-Lindsey Vonn stuff not sit quite right with you too? Releasing staged publicity photos to announce their romantic union ... Although what's the alternative - waiting to be snapped by photographers hiding in the bushes?

Tiger Woods and his new flame, downhill skier Lindsey Vonn pose for a portrait. Two months after rumours began circulating in Europe, Woods and Vonn posted separate items on their Facebook pages Monday to announce their relationship.

Tiger Woods and his new flame, downhill skier Lindsey Vonn pose for a portrait. Two months after rumours began circulating in Europe, Woods and Vonn posted separate items on their Facebook pages Monday to announce their relationship. Photo: Tigerwoods.com

PAUL SUTTOR: League. So there you have it, ARL Commission head honchos John Grant and Dave Smith have had their say about the ASADA investigation. In a nutshell ... a total of 31 NRL players will be interviewed, nobody is guilty until proven otherwise and no other clubs apart from the six already named - Cronulla, Manly, Nth Qld, Canberra, Penrith and Newcastle - are in the firing line. 

League. ARL CEO Dave Smith ... "There are a range of things where we can bring influence to bear. There has been total co-operation so far. Nobody's been found guilty, this is about interviews with 31 players."

League. ARLC CEO Dave Smith ... "31 players are going to go through an interview. At the end of it, we'll know more facts."

League. ARLC CEO Dave Smith ... "The key thing is we get to the next stage of the investigations which is to get these interviews out of the way. There's nothing in this investigation which relates as far as I know to the Australian Crime Commission,"

League. ARLC chairman John Grant ... "ASADA is looking for anti-doping violations. When they believe theyve got a case, they refer it to the NRL who raises an infraction notice. It is normal procedure for a player to be stood down but the player remains innocent until proven guilty." It will then go to the NRL tribunal and the player retains the right of appeal to the WADA board.

League. ARLC CEO Dave Smith ... "It's an investigation so by definition as they get into the detail, things may change. I don't know any of the names of the individuals. We've been able to ring-fence the next stage."

League. ARLC chairman John Grant ... "(The investigation) is now not focused on clubs."

League. ARLC CEO Dave Smith ... "We have a very clear code of conduct. Our obligation is to assist the investigation. This is a notice for interview so my full expectation is players will turn up."

League. ARLC CEO Dave Smith ... "ASADA will issue the notices in the next few days and those interviews will begin. In the next 4-6 weeks those interviews will have been completed."

League. ARLC CEO Dave Smith ... "They're now moving the investigations to the players. We're not going to talk about which clubs it is."

League. ARLC chief executive Dave Smith ... "We will not stand down any player until there is sufficient evidence for an infraction notice."

League. ARLC chief executive Dave Smith says ASADA wants to speak to "approximately 30 NRL players" to see if indivdiuals acted outside of club programs. It doesn't mean players or officials will be charged. The interview process is likely to take 4-6 weeks. 

AFL. Essendon coach James Hird has told his players it’s remarkable how well they’ve held themselves together while under an anti-doping investigation. Hird says the club has climbed into the elite level this pre-season, which wasn’t the case in his previous two years in charge. The Bombers will play in the AFL season-opener on Friday night against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.

Read the full story here

Tennis. Italy’s Flavia Pennetta booked herself a second-round clash with world No.1 Serena Williams at the WTA and ATP Masters Miami hardcourt event after a 6-4 6-1 victory on Tuesday over Swede Johanna Larsson. Pennetta, ranked 103rd, will meet Williams on Thursday in a second-round match at the $8.25 million event. The third-round foe for Williams, if she beats Pennetta, will be 31st seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium or Japan’s Ayumi Morita, who outlasted Britain’s Heather Watson 1-6 7-5 6-4.

League. Birthday boy Blake Ferguson wants it be known he doesn't want to be following Josh Dugan through the lime green exit door ... 

On this day in 1958 … trail-blazing Australian cyclist Phil Anderson was born in London. Growing up in Melbourne, he showed a talent for cycling and won gold at the 1978 Commonwealth Games. He advanced to the grand tours and in 1981 made history when he became the first non-European to wear the Tour de France’s famous yellow jersey. He finished 10th overall that year on debut and rose to fifth the next year and in 1985. He rode in 13 Tours up until 1994. He was so good he even had a Tooheys ad in the 1980s … 

AFL: Fantasy Football tragics take note ... Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands faces an indefinite stint on the sidelines after reinjuring his left hamstring.

Sandilands, who first suffered the injury during the pre-season, will travel to Melbourne this week to see a specialist before deciding on the best course of action.

In better news for the Dockers, back-up ruckman Zac Clarke has been cleared of any serious damage to his leg and remains an outside chance to take on the West Coast Eagles on Saturday.

ADRIAN PROSZENKO: League. Officials are in the process of finalising nominations for the upcoming Cronulla Sharks board elections, ensuring that candidates meet the criteria. It is understood that one person who will be standing, as promised, is Damian Irvine. The former chairman stood down last week in the wake of the ASADA scandal engulfing the club.

League: Former Brisbane forward Nick Kenny understands the frustration Nick Slyney is feeling as he battles to establish himself in the NRL with the Broncos.

Slyney will travel to Sydney with Brisbane on Friday hoping to be part of coach Anthony Griffin’s 17-man squad to take on the Sydney Roosters on Saturday.

His journey started with six games for North Queensland before landing a two-year contract with Brisbane last year when he played three more NRL games.

Kenny who retired in 2011 having played 78 NRL games for Brisbane, played just one game in each of his first two seasons with Brisbane yet made the Kangaroos train-on squad in 2009.

‘‘What I can tell Nick is the longer he has to wait and the harder he has to work, the sweeter it will be when he makes it,’’ he said.

Read the full story here

Diving/basketball: When was the last time you saw a 65-year-old, 2.18m tallk guy do a backflip into a pool. It’s been a while hasn’t it. Well, here is the one and only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doing said trick while training for a celebrity diving show in the US. Kareem, who holds the record for the most points in NBA history, didn’t exactly nail it but he still did. The wetsuit hay have been a little over the top though. 

Cricket. Richard Hinds doesn't think Shane Watson should captain Australia. Who do you think is the best man for the job?

Poll: If a back injury rules Michael Clarke out of the fourth Test who should captain Australia?

Poll form
  1. Please select an answer.
  2. View results
Shane Watson

20%

Ed Cowan

7%

Brad Haddin

54%

Matthew Wade

5%

Peter Siddle

14%

Total votes: 3239.

Would you like to vote?

You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.

Poll closed 31 Mar, 2013

Disclaimer:

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

Win, win, win ... We've got two tickets to give away to the Waratahs' game against the Blues on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. Using the comments section on the blog, in 25 words or less, tell us what the Tahs need to do to beat the Blues and get their Super Rugby campaign back on track ... The tickets will go to whichever reply is deemed the most astute (without defaming any members of the Tahs camp) by the pre-eminent SportsDay Live judging panel.

League. All the ARL Commission is saying at this point is that John Grant and Dave Smith will be providing an update on the ASADA investigation. 

Football. The race to succeed Ricki Herbert as Wellington Phoenix coach is hotting up with almost 200 applicants putting their names forward to take over at the A-League club.Applications close on Friday for the job which became vacant when Herbert stepped down last month after six years at the helm, with the club at the bottom of the table.Phoenix general manager David Dome says there has been no shortage of interest in the role with applicants from Europe and North America among the almost 200 eyeing the position. ‘‘We have received interest from some very high calibre applicants, including some who have coached at the highest levels in Europe."

Read the full story here

It's not all hard work for the WTA Tour players in Florida ... German tennis player Angelique Kerber swims with a dolphin at Miami Seaquarium in Key Biscayne, Florida. Kerber is one of the main contenders at the Sony Open.

It's not all hard work for the WTA Tour players in Florida ... German tennis player Angelique Kerber swims with a dolphin at Miami Seaquarium in Key Biscayne, Florida. Kerber is one of the main contenders at the Sony Open. Photo: AP

On this day in 1945 … one of the greatest basketball coaches in NBA history, Pat Riley was born in Schenectady, New York. After a playing career with San Diego Rockets, the Lakers and Phoenix, his coaching career started at LA in the 1980s at the beginning of the Magic Johnson-inspired Showtime era. Riley guided the Lakers to four titles in the 1980s before spending a successful but ultimately fruitless stint with the New York Knicks in the 1990s. He then went to Miami where he won a fifth NBA title when the Heat beat Dallas in the 2006 finals. Here he is having a chat with Magic about his career ... 

Netball. Every champion player's diet should cover the chocolate food group, says Cath Cox ... 

Tennis. How good is Kimiko Date-Krumm? At the age of 42, the Japanese veteran is still shining on the WTA Tour, downing South African 29-year-old spring chicken Chantelle Scheepers 6-2 6-0 in the Sony Open in Florida.

Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm hits a return to Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa at the Sony Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm hits a return to Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa at the Sony Open tennis tournament in Key Biscayne, Florida. Photo: Reuters

Win, win, win ... We've got two tickets to give away to the Waratahs' game against the Blues on Sunday afternoon at Allianz Stadium. Using the comments section on the blog, in 25 words or less, tell us what the Tahs need to do to beat the Blues and get their Super Rugby campaign back on track ... The tickets will go to whichever reply is deemed the most astute (without defaming any members of the Tahs camp) by the pre-eminent SportsDay Live judging panel.

Football: Wigan Athletic's Callum McManaman will not be punished by the English Football Association following his horror tackle on Newcastle’s Massimo Haidara.

‘‘It has been confirmed that at least one of the match officials saw the coming together, though not the full extent of the challenge. In these circumstances retrospective action cannot be taken,’’ the FA said.

Newcastle have threatened legal action over the knee-high tackle, which has ruled out Haidara for months.

Read the full story here

 

On this day in 1988Mike Tyson, back when he was undoubtedly the baddest man on the planet (for what he did in the ring), knocked out Tony Tubbs inside two rounds to retain the world heavyweight boxing title. In recent years Tubbs has done jail time for cocaine-related crimes. 

Basketball. The Miami Heat are on a rest day today after racking up their 23rd consecutive win over Boston yesterday, the second-best winning streak in NBA history. The Celtics ended Houston’s 22-game winning streak five years ago but Boston couldn’t stop Miami. The Heat are now setting their sights on the 1971-72 LA Lakers’ record of 33 straight Ws before they were beaten by the Milwaukee Bucks. If they match the Lakers’ feat, coincidentally Miami will face the Bucks to register a historic 34th win on the trot. There’s still a long way to go before Miami are in range of the record but their upcoming schedule is very favourable - strugglers Cleveland, Detroit, Charlotte and Orlando are next, then the Bulls in Chicago, another lowly team in New Orleans, before a crucial couple of games at San Antonio and at home to New York. Then it’s the bumbling Bobcats and misfiring Philadelphia before a possible shot at history in Miami against the Bucks on April 9.

On this day in 1990 …  Canberra centre Blake Ferguson was born in 1990. The flashy outside back started his career with Cronulla and was tipped as a future representative star but after leaving the Sharks at the end of 2010 because he wanted to play for a title-contending team, he has not lived up to his potential and is currently out of the Raiders’ first-grade side due to disciplinary reasons following his infamous rooftop antics with sacked teammate Josh Dugan. Heavyweight boxer Solomon Haumono says he will help Ferguson get back on the right path ... I wouldn't disagree with anything Big Solo says.

League. Do you reckon Benji Marshall has paid for his car wash today? ... 

PAUL SUTTOR: Sun-Herald sports editor Paul Suttor taking over blog duties from Shane Brady now. Biiiiiiig news on the brew in NRL land with John Grant and Dave Smith holding a press conference at 1pm. We'll bring you all the news from that one ... it won't be anything minor if the two head honchos are fronting up to the media together.

Baseball: The Dominican Republic, with their lucky plantains, are on the verge of history at the World Baseball Classic in San Francisco.

The Dominicans rallied from an early deficit to beat the Netherlands 4-1 and advance to Tuesday night’s final against Puerto Rico.

If the Dominican Republic win they would become the first team to go undefeated in a WBC.

Read the full preview here

 

How high: Orlando Magic's  Nikola Vucevic puts up a shot over Indiana Pacers centre.

How high: Orlando Magic's Nikola Vucevic puts up a shot over Indiana Pacers centre. Photo: Reuters

Basketball: Here's a great shot on more than one level from the NBA clash between the Magic and the Pacers under way at the moment.

Football: The Times newspaper has apologised for publishing a false story claiming Qatar was behind a multi-billion dollar Dream Football League offering £175 million to European clubs to compete.

The story, which was published last week, was dismissed as a hoax by French media outlets, including the website Cahiers du Football, which published a spoof article earlier in the week containing some of the same detail as that published by The Times.

Read the full story here

Cricket. Richard Hinds doesn't think Shane Watson should captain Australia. Who do you think is the best man for the job?

 

Poll: If a back injury rules Michael Clarke out of the fourth Test who should captain Australia?

Poll form
  1. Please select an answer.
  2. View results
Shane Watson

20%

Ed Cowan

7%

Brad Haddin

54%

Matthew Wade

5%

Peter Siddle

14%

Total votes: 3239.

Would you like to vote?

You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.

Poll closed 31 Mar, 2013

Disclaimer:

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

Drugs in sport: NRL chief executive Dave Smith and ARLC chairman John Grant will hold a press conference at 1pm to give an update on the ASADA investigation.

Basketball: The NBA playoff-bound Pacers look like strengthening their grip on second spot in the Eastern Conference, leading Orlando 55-44 midway through the third quarter in Indiana.

The Bucks are up 37-23 over Portland early in the second term at Milwaukee, and the Thunder are up 34-26 over Denver at Oklahoma City.

In the late game, the Kings host the LA Clippers in Sacramento.

Football: The English Premier League opposes the 2022 World Cup in Qatar being switched to winter over concerns about the heat in summer.

‘‘We are opposed to a winter World Cup for obvious practical reasons that would impact on all European domestic football,’’ an EPL spokesman said.

“Many other countries have a winter break. This is a one-off, for one year, if it's going to promote the tournament better I think it has to be seriously looked at”


This appears to be at odds with Britain’s FIFA vice-president Jim Boyce, who has said the tournament should be played at the beginning of the year to minimise the dangers of excessive heat, and the Premier League should agree to a winter break to accommodate it.

Read the full story here

On this day ... in 2012: It was just a year ago today that the sporting worlds in Australia and Ireland mourned the loss of one of AFL’s and life’s truly nice guys when Demons legend Jim Stynes finally succumbed to cancer.

Check out his foundation’s Facebook tribute page. RIP big fella.

 

Loved by many: Demons great and community worker Jim Stynes.

Loved by many: Demons great and community worker Jim Stynes.

Career opportunity: The offending ad mocking Fernando Torres has been taken down.

Career opportunity: The offending ad mocking Fernando Torres has been taken down.

Football: The blushes of Chelsea’s misfiring striker Fernando Torres have been spared after a local council ordered the removal of a cheeky advertising billboard mocking him.

The ad for bookmakers Paddy Power was erected on a building next to Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium but Torres, signed from Liverpool for £50 million in January 2011, has had the last laugh.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council were made aware of the illegal hoarding and ordered its removal.

‘‘Poking fun at beleaguered Premier League footballers is not necessarily a problem as long as the advertising hoardings are legal,’’ the council said.

Read the full story here

League: Could it be that time already? Tickets go on sale for the general public tomorrow at 10am for the City v Country clash in Coffs Harbour on April 21.

Rugby: Paul Cully is relishing a potential match-up between two of the game's big boppers but not where many might think ...

 

Drugs in sport: Disturbing news from India where a leading Indian sports lawyer is pushing for more action to stop widespread doping in Indian athletics.

India has the highest number of athletes (52) on the International Association of Athletics Federations’ banned list.

Russia has 33 athletes on the list, while there are 10 from the United States and four from Britain. Australia has none but that could change.

‘‘It’s going largely unnoticed here,’’ sports lawyer Lovely Dasgupta told the BBC. ‘‘The question many are asking is: If we have this level of doping when India isn’t a powerhouse, when the infrastructure does develop as India pushes on to get an Olympics one day – can they do that unless they really get to grips with the problem?’’

At last year’s National Schools Championship 11 junior athletes were caught doping, and Dasgupta says coaches put pressure on athletes, who often take banned substances unknowingly.

Touch footy: A bunch of passionate touch footy aficionados will camp out at Macquarie University in a Guinness World Records attempt for the longest continuous touch footy game.

They’re inviting members young and old from across Sydney’s touch and rugby communities to get on board and represent their state’s big moment in the world records as they try to crack 30 hours continuous play.

The record attempt starts on the night of Thursday April 4, and there’ll be tries aplenty as the tiring defence opens up after the 24-hour mark.

To get involved click here

Rugby: Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu has re-signed with the Waratahs for two more years.

After celebrating his 50th appearance for NSW against the Brumbies earlier this month, Kepu will stay in Sydney until the end of the 2015 season.

Now in his sixth year with the Waratahs, the 27-year-old father of three says his belief in the special times ahead clinched his decision.

“I’ve debuted and progressed with this club and I want to stay on and try to accomplish all the things that I first wanted to do here,” he said.

“The Waratahs gave me my first opportunity. It’s the reason I came over, it’s something I love,” said Kepu, who was born in Sydney but raised in Auckland.

Kepu made his international debut against Italy in 2008 and has since appeared in 23 Tests including the 2011 World Cup.

True Blue: Prop Sekope Kepu has re-signed with the Tahs until the end of 2015.

True Blue: Prop Sekope Kepu has re-signed with the Tahs until the end of 2015. Photo: Getty Images

Motor sport: We take it all back about Mark Webber’s lack of clutch cotnrol ...

McLaren have apologised to Red Bull after the engine control unit they supply caused Webber’s to start badly at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Australian qualified on the front row for the opening race of the season last weekend but dropped to seventh after the first lap and was eventually sixth.

A software-related issue meant the Australian's car garage data system had to be restarted in the formation lap.

‘‘That disrupted his preparations and they have our apology,’’ McLaren said.

Football: Speaking of goals and Stoke, two subjects not normally mentioned in the same sentence ... the Poms might have unearthed another star striker.

A 10-year-old schoolgirl is being tipped as the next England football star after scoring 101 goals in just 31 games.

Hannah Jamieson's success came in her first season playing the game, in midfield, for Stoke Town Ladies Under-10s.

 

AFL: The AFL has announced a rule change allowing the use of a team’s substitute player as a temporary interchange while a player is being assessed for concussion.

The rule change allowing the sub to be a temporary interchange for up to 20 minutes came as the AFL also revealed updated guidelines for the management of concussion in the sport.

AFL medical commissioner Dr Peter Harcourt said a key feature of the updated guidelines was that any player with a medically diagnosed concussion will not be allowed to return to play on the day of injury.

Football: Michael Owen, the former England striker and boyhood idol to many has announced he will hang up the boots at the end of this season.

The 33-year-old former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Newcastle star has been a bit player at Stoke this season, scoring once in seven games.

England great Gary Lineker reckons Owen could have been England’s greatest ever goal scorer but for the injuries that blighted his career.

Owen scored 40 goals in 89 internationals, nine fewer than Bobby Charlton.

Here he is announcing himself on the world stage.

Good morning. Shane Brady here until lunch or when the cows come home. Thanks to Ben Coady for guiding us through a tricky morning session on sticky wicket. As it’s hump day we thought we'd take you almost live to the camel races in Abu Dhabi. Dunno about those robot jockeys, though. Bring back the monkey hoops we say.

AFL. Sydney captain Jarrad McVeigh says the players feel their club has been unfairly targeted over the cost-of-living allowance, simply because they won last year's flag.

McVeigh said the Swans had been making smart list-management decisions that have allowed them to recruit quality players from other clubs without any attack on the allowance.

Football. Despite fears Brazil won’t be ready to host the 2014 World Cup, FIFA President Sepp Blatter isn’t worried.

‘‘Don’t be afraid. It’s all a question of trust and confidence. From the FIFA side it is totally there,’’ Blatter told reporters on Tuesday after meeting with Brazil’s sports minister and FIFA’s World Cup organising committee.

Persistent delays have raised doubts over Brazil’s preparations for hosting the world’s biggest sporting event. Brazil has delivered only two of six stadiums so far for the Confederations Cup in June, when the eight-nation tournament will test how matches are staged.

The iconic Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro - due to host the Confederations Cup final on June 30, and the World Cup final - is still being rebuilt, and has an April 27 completion deadline. Two weeks ago, a FIFA inspection visit was cancelled when heavy rain flooded the construction site.

Tennis. Italy’s Flavia Pennetta booked herself a second round clash with World No.1 Serena Williams at the WTA and ATP Masters Miami hardcourt event after a 6-4 6-1 first-round victory on Tuesday over Swede Johanna Larsson.

Pennetta, ranked 103rd, will meet Williams on Thursday in a second-round match at the $US8.5 million ($A8.2 million) event, which awarded byes to all 32 seeded players in both the men’s and women’s draws.

The third-round foe for Williams if she beats Pennetta will be either 31st seed Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium or Japan’s Ayumi Morita, who outlasted Britain’s Heather Watson 1-6 7-5 6-4.

Williams will try to become the first six-time winner at Miami in her first event since reaching the Dubai final to reclaim the top ranking while World No.1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia tries to claim his fourth Miami crown.

Phil Lutton: Swimming. Swimming may occupy an exulted place in the swimming hierarchy but when the team falls apart, it's the same as any other sport - the coach pays the price.

The only real surprise is that it didn't happen sooner. It's hard not to feel like Leigh Nugent was the fall guy for a bumbling organisation that stripped him of some of the key tools required for success. But such is sport and the hunt begins for a coach to rebuild our swimming program from the ground up.

Basketball. King James and his teammates got the Taiwanese animation treatment for their winning streak - with a very strange take on the LA Lakers' response.

Georgina Robinson: Rugby. Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver has poured cold water on any near-term Wallabies move for Ewen McKenzie, confirming he would ''honour'' Robbie Deans's contract to stay in the top job until the end of the year.

Reds coach McKenzie on Tuesday announced he would leave the team he coached to a Super Rugby title two years ago to look at national coaching roles next year.

Cricket. Richard Hinds doesn't think Shane Watson should captain Australia. Who do you think is the best man for the job?

Poll: If a back injury rules Michael Clarke out of the fourth Test who should captain Australia?

Poll form
  1. Please select an answer.
  2. View results
Shane Watson

20%

Ed Cowan

7%

Brad Haddin

54%

Matthew Wade

5%

Peter Siddle

14%

Total votes: 3239.

Would you like to vote?

You will need Cookies enabled to use our Voting Feature.

Poll closed 31 Mar, 2013

Disclaimer:

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

Football. Inter Milan striker Antonio Cassano has named his newborn son after ‘‘the greatest player of all time’’, Lionel Messi.

Cassano’s wife Carolina gave birth to the couple’s second son on Monday. Cassano said he had named his son Lionel ‘‘in honour of the greatest player of all time, my idol’’. Cassano, who had to temporarily stop his career last year to undergo minor heart surgery, already has another son, Christopher.

The dedication to star Barcelona forward Messi is unlikely to be missed by fans of AC Milan, where Cassano played until a controversial summer move to Inter.

No word if Cassano intends to give his son the nickname 'the Flea'.

 

Cricket. Finally some good news for the Australian cricket team .... India opener Shikhar Dhawan has been ruled out of the fourth Test against Australia in Delhi.

The left-hander had been a doubtful starter for his home-town Test after injuring his hand during his spectacular debut in the series-clinching six-wicket win in Mohali last week.

Dhawan blazed 187 from 174 balls - the highest ever score by an Indian debutant - while his 85-ball century was the fastest in Test history.

The 27-year-old did not reappear for India’s chase, however, after he injured his finger attempting to field a Phil Hughes cut shot during Australia’s second innings on the fourth day. Suresh Raina has been called in as cover after replacement opener Gautam Gambhir was diagnosed with jaundice.

‘‘Injured Shikhar Dhawan ruled out of Delhi Test,’’ the Board of Control for Cricket in India announced on their Twitter page.

On this day in 1979 … All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu was born in Waikato. He made his New Zealand debut in 2002 and last year became the third All Black to play 100 Tests.

A member of the 2011 World Cup-winning squad, he has also played more than 100 matches for the Blues at Super Rugby level. If you aren’t sure how tough he is, watch this vision of Brendan Cannon planting a punch on Mealamu and the Kiwi not even flinching …

Rugby. The Southern Kings face the possibility of being expelled in their first Super 15 season after the South African Rugby Union launched an investigation of the newcomers for fielding too many foreign players.

SARU said on Tuesday it was looking into ‘‘a suspected breach’’ of its Super Rugby contract with the Port Elizabeth-based Kings, which stipulates South African teams cannot field more than two foreign players in a game.

The Kings picked New Zealander Hadleigh Parkes at centre in the 35-24 home loss to the defending champions Chiefs on Friday, while Argentine players Tomas Leonardi and Nicolas Vergallo were used off the bench.

‘‘Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU, contacted Cheeky Watson, the chairman of the Kings board, on Tuesday to advise him of the inquiry and also to caution him against any potential breaches,’’ SARU said in its statement, which came after days of speculation in South Africa surrounding the Kings’ alleged wrongdoing. SARU held an emergency meeting via a telephone conference on Tuesday and appointed a judicial committee to investigate the Kings.

Richard Hinds: Cricket. Dan Quayle was once a heartbeat from the presidency. It seems no less disturbing that Shane Watson is just a bulged disc from the Australian captaincy.

Incredibly, as Michael Clarke's back buckles under the strain of his underperforming team, there is a prospect Watson - who left the tour of India after being punished for a lapse in discipline - will take his place. Surely the only selection issue surrounding Watson should be his entitlement to play at all.

Swimming. Swimming Australia will reportedly announce the departure of head coach Leigh Nugent as early as today in the wake of the disastrous London Olympics campaign.

Facing the axe: Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent.

Facing the axe: Swimming Australia head coach Leigh Nugent. Photo: Rohan Thomson

Today's back page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Today's back page of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Here’s today’s back page. Brad Walter reported details of the NRL’s draft plan, while Phil Gould looked at the problems with the new shoulder charge, um, charge in the NRL.

Ben Coady: Welcome to SportsDay Live. Looks like it’s all over for Leigh Nugent as the head coach of the Australian Swimming team, while NRL players are no fans of the plan to introduce a draft if clubs lose players due to the drugs investigation. And for those of you who asked - Michael Chammas did deliver the chicken for lunch yesterday and it was nails.

Sort comments by:
  • Woo HOOOOOOO

    Commenter
    Man on the couch
    Location
    Bronte
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 4:21PM
  • I think the Tahs need to keep it simple, score more points than the Blues.

    Commenter
    Daniel
    Location
    Camperdown
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 1:47PM
  • How about the Waratahs pinch some ideas from the Brumbies, even as far back as that blockbuster super 12's Brumbies vs Crusaders victory in 2004!

    Commenter
    Dave
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 1:44PM
  • Why did the ACC get involved in the whole drugs things, the taking of the drugs, the selling, buying, nothing so far seems to constitute a criminal offence (as against a breach of contract or code of conduct or WADA Coda). If their (ACC) resources were used to gather evidence, can this evidence be used in non criminal proceedings ???

    Commenter
    Just not sport anymore
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 1:37PM
    • Yes, ACC/AFP/Customs and ASADA have information sharing systems in place.

      Lots of other professionals face seperate disciplinary and criminal proceedings from the same conduct (think various doctors etc)

      Commenter
      John121
      Location
      Date and time
      March 22, 2013, 2:32PM
  • Waratah's:
    Don't get down, Don't get blue, Play some running rugby, a sore trick in beating the Auckland BLUES

    Commenter
    Andrew
    Location
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 1:16PM
  • Waratahs, Play the game in front of you, not the one in your training manual. Oh and defend like you mean it.

    Commenter
    Man on the couch
    Location
    Bronte
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 1:12PM
  • Folau’s been their best player. The Tah’s may need to sign Farah, Carney, Marshall, Barba and Josh Morris to their backline to score some points

    Commenter
    Ek999
    Location
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 1:05PM
  • Secret for the tahs - score a few more tries and stop a few too.

    Commenter
    Becks
    Location
    Rockdale
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 12:39PM
  • Waratahs winning strategy: Stop dropping or kicking the ball when you have attacking momentum.

    Commenter
    exasperated
    Location
    sydney
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 12:37PM
  • Michael Clarke has carried the Aussie team for the past year and captained surprisingly well.
    Of course the critics are waiting for a chance to whinge; but the thought of Shane Watson becoming captain should make everyone appreciate how much we need Clarke -fit and scoring record-breaking runs.

    Commenter
    Cricket realist
    Location
    Oz
    Date and time
    March 20, 2013, 8:56AM
    • The fact that we have a person like Clarke as captain is the reason that someone like Watson is his deputy. Standards have slipped amazingly. Clarke started this "me first" culture when he wanted to go out with his girlfriend rather than sing the team song. Katich was absolutely correct to insist he stay for the song. This has been followed by the premature retirement of Hussey and the refusal of Hussey to appoint the new song leader. Clarke is the cancer that is presently ruining Australian cricket - he must be cut adrift and his apologists (read Arthur & Howard) need to follow him out the door. Oh for another Ricky Ponting - a man who wanted to play for Australia - who refused to give in. Some some New Idea star who is apparently happy to make runs himself and couldn't care less about THE TEAM

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      March 20, 2013, 1:35PM

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