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Smith gets first All Blacks fullback start

Ben Smith makes a long-awaited start at fullback for the All Blacks after Israel Dagg hobbled out of contention for the second Test against England.

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Wing Julian Savea returns to a reshuffled New Zealand back three in the only change for the Test in Dunedin on Saturday.

The hosts can clinch the three-Test series following their tense 20-15 win in the first Test in Auckland.

Kieran Read spends another week on the sideline even though coach Steve Hansen previously said the world class No.8 had trained freely last week and showed no further evidence of concussion symptoms.

Powerhouse left wing Savea was the other key omission at Eden Park but has shaken off a knee complaint to return, push Cory Jane to the opposite wing and Smith to fullback.

Dagg is rested, having struggled with a patella niggle for the last month.

Experienced fullback Dagg scored 12 tries in his first 23 Tests but has gone tryless in his next 16.

The attacking verve that marked the 26-year-old’s early Test forays has made way for a more conservative style of play in the 18 months since he scored his last try, against Scotland in Edinburgh.

Smith has stockpiled running metres and line breaks from fullback for the Highlanders over the past two Super Rugby seasons and could be set to unleash from deep in the comfortable surrounds of his home pitch against the English.

It is the 28-year-old’s first Test start at the back, having begun 12 of his 27 Tests on the wing, six at centre and nine off the reserve bench.

Aaron Cruden is retained at first five-eighth despite the strong challenge being mounted by Beauden Barrett while there are no changes to the forward pack, which was given a torrid workout at Eden Park.

Among the All Blacks’ best last week was No.8 Jerome Kaino, who will play his 50th Test.

The bench is unchanged, with lock Patrick Tuipulotu once again getting a chance to earn his first cap after being unused last week.

Hansen says a change in attitude, rather than personnel, is needed if they are to improve on a patchy start to the season.

“We have worked hard on our skillsets, attitude and the detail in our game, which wasn’t up to All Blacks standard last week,” he said.

Tickets have sold out at the 28,500-seat indoor stadium.

All Blacks:

Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Julian Savea, Aaron Cruden, Aaron Smith, Jerome Kaino, Richie McCaw (capt), Liam Messam, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Dane Coles, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Keven Mealamu, Wyatt Crockett, Charlie Faumuina, Patrick Tuipulotu, Victor Vito, TJ Perenara, Beauden Barrett, Malakai Fekitoa


23/01/2019 0

Brad Pitt adds support to Jolie at warzone rape meeting

The Hollywood couple — with British Foreign Secretary William Hague standing between them — posed for a bank of cameras as they arrived at the conference venue.

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Jolie wore a black tuxedo-style jacket and trousers and Pitt a dark suit and sunglasses.

A government source told AFP that Pitt had wanted to show his support to the cause “but I doubt he’ll speak. He’ll leave it to Angelina: it’s her baby”.

Jolie’s co-host Hague said Wednesday the star power of Jolie, who is a special envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, allied with the work of governments, could be “formidable”.

“She has the power to speak to the whole world, to raise awareness, change attitudes.

“Governments like the one I am a member of hold in their hands levers of decision-making and action.

“And this combination can be formidable.

“And is in many respects a strong example of the future of foreign policy and how it should be conducted.

“It’s no longer the sole preserve of governments.”

The conference, featuring decision-makers and victims of warzone rape, has launched a protocol of proposals on how best to document rapes in war in an attempt to vastly increase the number of prosecutions.

Jolie has said up to 50,000 women were sexually assaulted during the war in Bosnia — but “only just over 60 people” have ever been successfully prosecuted.

Hague will meet Nigeria’s foreign minister on the sidelines of the conference on Thursday to discuss violence in northern Nigeria, in the wake of the kidnapping of hundreds of schoolgirls by the Boko Haram Islamist group.


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Sri Lanka can’t beat Root as England get on top

Root, 23, yet to nail down any one position in the batting line-up in his fledgling international career and dropped for the final Ashes test in Australia at the start of the year, compiled his third test century from 190 balls and struck eight fours.

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He was given strong support by the recalled Matt Prior who was unbeaten on 76 at the close of play after the hosts dominated the final two sessions.

“It was quite a tough winter from a team point of view, and personally as well, so to come back and score a hundred meant a lot to me,” Root told a news conference.

“The position when I came in was obviously quite tricky and it was very pleasing to go on and get us in a decent position at the end of play.”England, fielding a new-look team after being humiliated 5-0 in Australia, lost three wickets in the morning session as Nuwan Kulasekara and Nuwan Pradeep made a bright start after Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews elected to bowl.

Ian Bell (56) was out early in the afternoon session, soon after bringing up his 40th half-century in his 99th test, to leave the home side on 120 for four before Root and Moeen rallied by sharing an 89-run stand.

Moeen showed few nerves despite making a slightly streaky start while Root became the fifth youngest England batsman to pass 1,000 test runs.

The pair batted for most of the middle session but after tea Moeen slashed at a ball from Rangana Herath, having earlier hit the first ball he faced from the spinner for six, two short of a maiden half-century, and the catch was taken by Mahela Jayawardene at first slip.

Prior, back in the team after injury and loss of form, was almost trapped leg before second ball when he was hit on the back leg by Herath and a video review found narrowly in his favour.

EARLY SCARE

After that early scare the wicketkeeper-batsman offered good support to Root as the Sri Lanka attack tired and the pitch began to lose its green tinge.

The duo scrambled plenty of quick singles and took advantage of any loose balls to put on an unbeaten 135 for the sixth wicket.

Root said the partnerships with Prior and Moeen were crucial to establishing a dominant position.

“After a difficult winter the way Matty came back into the side was testament to his character and ability and it’s really pleasing to see him go on and make a score and hopefully he can do that tomorrow,” added Root.

“Moeen on his debut too, to play the way he did, to come into the side and play some elegant strokes and make it so easy at times, it took a lot of pressure off me.”

England, with a new coach in Peter Moores and with the international career of batsman Kevin Pietersen now controversially ended, got their new era off to a poor start.

Australian-born Sam Robson (1), making his debut along with Moeen and pace bowler Chris Jordan, edged a full ball off the lively Pradeep that was well taken by wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene.

Captain Alastair Cook, who had moved quickly through to 17 but never looked comfortable during his 26-ball innings, also played a false shot, attempting to cut a Kulasekara delivery that was too close to his body and chopping the ball on to his stumps.

After a shaky start Bell began to find his touch, confidently driving anything over-pitched and he brought some cheer to the crowd with a lusty straight six off Herath in the first over after lunch.

He was unable to maintain that momentum however, falling lbw to Shaminda Eranga after the original not-out decision was overturned on review.

“The first session and the hour after that we bowled really well, then after that it didn’t go our way. But I think we should back ourselves and come back tomorrow and do our job,” said Sri Lanka opening batsman Kaushal Silva.

“The last hour or so we tried to take wickets so that made it easier for them to score some runs. But apart from that I think the first two sessions we did really well, we stuck to our plans and bowled according to our fields.”

(Editing by Tony Jimenez)


23/01/2019 0

Port regain skipper for AFL blockbuster

Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak will return to captain the AFL’s ladder leaders in Saturday’s clash with Sydney at the SCG.

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Boak, goalsneak Angus Monfries and speedster Matt White have all recovered from injury and will tackle the Swans in the highlight of round 13.

“All three are ready to go and they’ll really add to the team,” Port coach Ken Hinkley said on the club website.

Sam Gray and Ben Newton were both dropped, but the absence of Jared Polec (ankle) is a setback for the Power.

The Swans fared far worse at the selection table, Ben McGlynn’s fractured thumb forcing him to join Kurt Tippett (knee) on the sidelines.

Pint-sized tackling machine McGlynn will miss two matches like Tippett, with Mike Pyke and Brandon Jack promoted in their absence.

Dual Brownlow medallist Chris Judd, Richmond veteran Chris Newman, Hawthorn ruckman David Hale, GWS defender Phil Davis and West Coast’s Josh Kennedy are among the fit-again players returning on the weekend.

Judd will play his second game of the season, having lasted six minutes as a substitute in round five when he returned from pre-season Achilles surgery.

Upgraded Hawthorn rookie Ben Ross will make his AFL debut on Friday night against Carlton, Luke Lowden making way and Billy Hartung nursing an elbow injury.

The Blues dropped Jeff Garlett.

Former Melbourne midfielder Colin Sylvia will make his club debut with Fremantle after joining the Dockers as a free agent in the off-season.

Fremantle replaced injured key defenders Luke McPharlin and Michael Johnson with Sylvia and Alex Silvagni for Saturday’s game at the MCG against Richmond.

The Tigers made four changes.

Newman, Aaron Edwards, Dylan Grimes and Shaun Hampson come into the team that lost to North Melbourne after a poor second-half fadeout.

Ben Griffiths and Matt McDonough were both dumped, while Ty Vickery and Matt Thomas will miss the match due to suspension.

Brisbane named an unchanged side for Saturday night’s clash with GWS at the Gabba, while the Giants called on Davis, Jeremy Cameron, Josh Hunt and Josh Kelly.

Adelaide’s Brent Reilly will play his 200th match after earning a recall for Saturday’s clash with North Melbourne, who dropped Majak Daw and Sam Wright.

West Coast will be well down on experience when they host Gold Coast on Saturday.

Retiring captain Darren Glass is joined on the sidelines by ruckman Dean Cox (soreness) and Sharrod Wellingham (omitted).

Rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt, who played his first game of the season in round 12, will miss the clash due to a knee injury.


23/01/2019 0

From uni to Nauru in two days

She was a 22-year-old retail worker who answered a “fun” Facebook ad to work on a tropical island.

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Instead, Nicole Judge found herself on Nauru, watching asylum seekers beating their heads against concrete and screaming for freedom.

But it was about to get worse.

The former JB HiFi worker left the Nauru detention centre for Manus Island in September 2013 to find “sick and defeated” men cramped behind walls, fearing for their lives as locals threatened them with machetes.

“I thought I had seen it all. I had not seen it all,” Ms Judge told a parliamentary inquiry on Thursday.

“Manus Island shocked me to the core.”

Ms Judge and her friend Christopher Iacono were both university students in 2012 when they responded to a Salvation Army Facebook “meme” describing Nauru as a fun holiday experience.

Two days later, they were both on the tiny island nation without having undergone a job interview nor any training on handling asylum seekers.

“I thought it was going to be some fun experience,” Ms Judge said.

“I didn’t even know what a refugee was.”

Ms Judge recounted her experience at a Senate inquiry on Thursday in Canberra probing the February 18 Manus Island riots that led to the death of Iranian Reza Barati.

While working as a case manager there, before the riots, Ms Judge reported seeing expatriate guards physically beating asylum seekers and insulting their religious and cultural beliefs.

When she complained about being sexually harassed by the guards, she was told by a manager to put up with it because the same thing happened in bars.

Mr Iacono, who worked at McDonald’s before becoming a support officer on Manus Island, criticised the Australian government’s immigration policy.

The government’s smarttraveller南宁桑拿网, website warns against travelling to Papua New Guinea because of high crime rates, gang rapes and ethnic disputes.

“This is the same government that wants to settle these foreigners there in that country,” he said.


23/01/2019 0

Pradeep double rocks England in Test

Nuwan Pradeep struck twice as a revamped England struggled against Sri Lanka on the opening morning of the first Test at Lord’s on Thursday.

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England, after losing the toss, were 3-98 at lunch in their first Test since suffering a 281-run defeat by Australia in Sydney that condemned them to a 5-0 Ashes series loss in January.

Pradeep had done the bulk of the damage with two wickets for 35 runs in nine overs.

England were left looking to Ian Bell to dig them out of a hole, with the experienced batsman 41 not out in his 99th Test. Joe Root was unbeaten on six.

Although the sunny blue skies above Lord’s suggested ideal batting conditions, Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews elected to field first on a greener-looking than usual Lord’s pitch.

Mathews’s decision yielded a quick reward as England lost both their openers inside the first half hour.

Australia-born Sam Robson, one of three debutants in the England side and playing on his Middlesex home ground, fell for one when he was drawn forward by a full-length Pradeep delivery that took the outside edge and wicketkeeper Prasanna Jayawardene, diving to his right, held a fine catch.

And 1-14 became 2-22 when England captain Alastair Cook exited for 17, the left-hander bottom-edging an intended cut off Nuwan Kulasekara into his stumps.

Gary Ballance, promoted to number three in only his second Test, was on one as Bell, taking over the number four slot from the exiled Kevin Pietersen, walked in.

Bell demonstrated his class by easing first-change Shaminda Eranga through the covers for four with a textbook drive.

And the Warwickshire batsman also dealt well with Mathews, Sri Lanka’s fourth seamer, by cover-driving and straight driving the all-rounder for elegant boundaries.

Ballance looked less assured but the Zimbabwe-born left-hander brought up a fifty stand with Bell when he clipped Pradeep off his pads for four.

However, Ballance’s 73-minute innings ended when, to Pradeep’s fifth ball back, he drove flat-footedly and was caught behind for 23 to leave England 3-74.


23/01/2019 0

FIFPro slams ‘irresponsible’ conditions in Manaus

“The players deserve a quality playing surface and conditions that reflect what is meant to be the world’s premier football event.

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This is simply not the case in Manaus,” said FIFPro in a statement.

“Nobody wants to see the players and the spectacle in general suffer.”

The grass at the Amazonia arena on Wednesday was threadbare in places and discoloured in others. Near one goalkeeper’s area patches of sand could clearly be seen poking through.

Manaus, which lies at the heart of the Amazon rain forest and swelters in high heat and humidity year-round, will stage four matches, starting with England v Italy on Saturday.

Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, whose side face Honduras in another match in the city, has already complained about playing “in the middle of the jungle”, saying the decision was “almost irresponsible.”

“FIFPro’s concerns stretch to parts of Brazil, including Manaus, where heat and humidity can reach dangerous levels at this time of year,” FIFPro said.

“Putting a player in harm’s way is shockingly irresponsible and not how the game ought to be run.

“Cooling breaks are important, but when and how often they’re introduced during a match is also open to interpretation in order to ensure optimal protection for the players”

FIFA guidelines state that cooling breaks are considered when Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT), which takes into account heat, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover, is above 32 Celsius.

FIFA has ruled that it will decide on a case-by-case basis whether cooling breaks are necessary at the World Cup.

However, FIFPro has argued that this is too high, quoting the American College of Sports Medicine as recommending that cooling breaks are introduced when the WBGT reaches 27.9 Celsius.

(Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond)


23/01/2019 0

Nadal slips on Halle grass

Spanish world number one Rafael Nadal suffered a shock second round defeat at the hands of German world number 85 Dustin Brown on the grasscourts of Halle on Thursday.

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The right-handed Mallorca native, fresh from his ninth French Open title last Sunday, crashed 6-4 6-1 at the hands of the lanky Brown who is still looking for his first ATP singles’ title.

“Difficult to talk about the match, I don’t know what to say. I didn’t play,” said a downcast Nadal.

“It can happen on this surface against such a opponent. This match has no value preparing for Wimbledon but the match was negative in all ways.

“Now, I’ll leave to Majorca but not sure I will play because I need to rest and then want to fly to Wimbledon Wednesday early morning,” he continued.

The 1.96m Brown, who has won two doubles titles, picked up the biggest win of his career on the back of 11 aces and a winning first service percentage of 83.

Nadal, meanwhile, forced just one break point against his opponent, which he failed to convert, while Brown broke three times on his way to victory in just under an hour.

Awaiting Brown in the quarter-finals is compatriot and 2011 Halle champion Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Earlier, Roger Federer got his Wimbledon preparations fully underway, but he looked out of sorts before finally edging Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-7 (8-10) 6-4 6-2 in a second-round tie.

Playing for the first time since losing to Ernests Gulbis in the last 16 of the French Open, the six-time former winner of the German tournament started brightly but was soon on the backfoot against the improving Sousa.

There were no breaks of serve in the first set and it was Sousa who dominated the tie-break clinching it on his fourth set point.

Federer looked frustrated at times, but the match turned on the seventh game of the second set when Sousa’s level suddenly dipped allowing the Swiss great to pounce and secure his first break.

From then on it was all Federer with a break of serve in the first game of the deciding set sending him safely on his way into the last eight.

“I struggled a bit on return during a set and half,” said Federer. “Afterwards, it was better, more variation on second serve.

“It was slightly frustrating, but important to stay calm. Maybe I got more confidence winning this way than 6-4 6-4.

“When I came here (Saturday) to start practice it was so-so, but now it’s better. For me, it doesn’t take a lot of time to get used to the grass.”

Third seed Milos Raonic of Canada lost on Wednesday 6-4 6-4 to German wildcard Peter Gojowczyk.

Federer’s opponent in the quarter-finals will be Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan, who defeated big-serving Ivo Karlovic of Croatia 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-3).


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