Monthly Archives: January 2019

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Coach Francis’ holy advice: too many ‘i’s in Mario

THE WRAP
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Aussies Ahmed and ready to prevent whitewash … Barba bound for home … Hird charged but doesn’t jump … Toomua pips Quade … Farah stays but Benji gets shirty … Neill big in Japan.

TEAM SPIRIT

Much like the well-known football song, Mario Balotelli went to Rome to see the Pope, and this is what he was told: ”There is no place for individualism; everything should be about the team.” The striker went public with his desire to meet the head of the Catholic Church before Italy’s friendly against Argentina but instead of being blessed, he found himself on the end of a football-related spray from the pontiff. The Argentinian-born Pope is a football tragic and used his introduction to the two squads to pass on his technical advice. Though, when it came to Balotelli, he didn’t hold back on the player’s ego and attitude. ”You, dear players, are very popular,” he said to him and the squad. ”People follow your example, off the pitch as well as on. You have a social responsibility. Otherwise something is missing from the match, even if you win. There is no place for individualism; everything should be about the team.”

POLLIE WITH A HOOK

After watching the debate last Sunday it was clear that neither prime ministerial candidate packed a punch but that won’t be the case in the next Ukrainian election. World heavyweight champion Vitali Kitschko announced that he will run as a candidate for Ukraine’s third biggest party. The 42-year-old is keen to fight crime and corruption and believes his skills in the ring qualify him to lead his government. ”I think for boxing, I use exactly the same skills,” he said. ”Trust myself, discipline and organisation and build a team, it’s a teamwork.” Well, it beats repetitive three-word phrases.

MAIDEN BOWLS ‘EM OVER

A 20-year-old female cricket player showed that she can more than match it with the men as she became the first woman to play first-team cricket in England and took four wickets in her debut. Chloe Wallwork bowled out four batsmen in just 11 overs for her local club Walshaw in the Bolton Association. She said the men were embarrassed that they were sent walking by a woman on debut and some even played more defensively to ensure they weren’t the next casualties. ”When I’m bowling against them they either try to slog me or block me because they don’t want to get out to a girl,” she said.

IF YOU’RE NOT WATCHING SPORT YOU SHOULD BE LISTENING TO …

Drop Out. East Village. As close to pop perfection as you can get. Jangling guitar genius released in 1993 and it still sets the gold standard.

@EarsMcEvoy

IT’S NOT A MONKEY RIDING A GREYHOUND BUT YOU’LL LIKE IT …

Havard Rugland, a footballer from regional Norway, made the leap to the NFL after a sensational highlight reel of his kicking of the pigskin went viral. Rugland was obsessed with gridiron and might be playing for the Detroit Lions in the coming season after he kicked field goals from 40m and then from 50m in a preseason match. Though, it’s no wonder the Lions and New York Jets were interested in converting Rugland after he displayed his talent on YouTube, performing tricks that need to be seen to be believed. Search for Kickalicious on YouTube.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Puissance De Lune has class to eclipse rivals

Great expectations: Cup hope Puissance De Lune with Mitch Freedman. Photo: Aaron SawallThe essence behind the prospects of Puissance De Lune in Saturday’s $220,000 P.B. Lawrence Stakes (1400 metres) at Caulfield is class requires speed.
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Puissance De Lune is the early Melbourne Cup favourite and the Lawrence, once the Liston Stakes, has not been a happy foundation ground for old-time two-milers; none has completed the double and few even started in it.

But the former French stayer, energised to new heights since arriving at Darren Weir’s yard, is being mentioned for the Cox Plate at Moonee Valley, hardly a race for one-paced stayers. Puissance De Lune has brilliance, as yet untapped under 1600m. Still, circumstances can play a role.

Look at Bayrir, a group 1 winner in the US and cups contender, which resumed at Rosehill recently and was downed by Coup Ay Tee. ”Undoubtedly a superior beast but simply outsprinted,” The Sun-Herald’s Tony Brassel wrote.

Alas, bookmakers don’t seem keen to gamble against Puissance De Lune – at reasonable odds, anyway – although six out of the 11 in the Racenet poll of leading betting houses made him their lay.

”Can’t believe the bookies have him so short,” Betfair’s Daniel Bevan said, but added exchange punters had laid him around $3, which is hardly a savage difference.

”Well backed in the Melbourne Cup,” Michael Sullivan (Sportingbet) said. ”With that in mind, I can’t see them busting a gut to win first-up.”

”First up over 1400m in what is likely to be a slowly run race suggests he will be settling at the back from barrier nine,” Alan Eskander (Betstar) said.

But will the sprint lack tempo? Ajeeb, trained by Mick Price, is a leader and will be watched by rivals. ”Hopefully we can catch them with their pants down,” Price said.

Second Effort, last year’s winner, and Launay should get the run of the race with Under the Sun, victim of poor navigation at Rosehill last start, likely to pour on early pressure.

They have superior fitness, but the quality to handle Puissance De Lune? Sure, his only real sprint was over 1600m, a dead-heat in the Blamey, but he came out of it with bone chips, subsequently removed.

No doubt bookmakers are capitalising on his boom, established over longer journeys, with such a short price but should it stop you from backing him?

Verdict: Puissance De Lune ($2.35).FORM RUNNER

Coup Ay Tee, a member of the Chris Waller team, is hardly taking on a Bayrir in the Spring Preview (second) at Rosehill in which the stablemate menace again rears its ugly head. Waller has four opposing Coup Ay Tee, which has Nash Rawiller in the saddle. Jason Collett handled him with dash and daring to score last start but he goes on to Studio for the trainer. With the exception of Havana Rey, pace is a query but Coup Ay Tee showed he can be effective off a dawdle when downing Bayrir, also prepared by Waller. Havana Rey may need another race to be prime but still looks the hardest for Waller to beat.

Verdict: Coup Ay Tee ($2.50).BACKMARKER

The highly promising Catkins and Velrosso are the Waller conundrum in the fifth. Scratched from the corresponding Caulfield meeting, Catkins is weighted to advantage with Yusuke Ichikawa’s three-kilo claim. Resuming, she can be handy to the lead, while Velrosso gets back. Catkins has the quality edge; Velrosso, fitness, winning form and Jim Cassidy. ”Slots into a perfect spot from an inside draw,” Glenn Munsie (TAB) said about Catkins. ”Undefeated first-up and trialled OK recently.” Waller has Altius, an eye-catcher first-up, with Rawiller atop, against them.

Verdict: Velrosso ($2.60).SLIPPER POINTER

Class against condition is again the query concerning Sidestep and Windjammer in the San Domenico. Regarding Sidestep, trainer Peter Snowden said: ”He had three runs in three weeks and for a two-year-old so early in his preparation it tells you he’s above average.” Sidestep is having his first start since his second in the Golden Slipper at Rosehill in April, while Windjammer, looking short of his best, scored first-up at Rosehill on August 3. But Hugh Bowman sacked Windjammer for Cluster, a maiden, which has done wonders for Windjammer’s price.

Verdict: Sidestep ($3).

PLAY THE EXOTICS

Rosehill parlay:  Race 1 — (8) Happy Clapper, Race 4 — (1) Burbero, Race 5 — (8) Velrosso, Race 8 — (2) Travolta.Quadrella: Race 5 — (2) Catkins, (8) Velrosso, Race 6 — (1) Sidestep, (7) Windjammer, Race 7 — (2) Total Attraction, (11) Fast And Sexy, Race 8 — (2) Travolta, (5) Less Is More, (8) Marden.Caulfield parlay:  Race 1 — (8) Text’n Hurley, Race 3 — (2) Sea Galleon, Race4 — (2) Fast ’N’ Rocking, Race 6 — (4) Puissance De Lune.Quadrella:  Race 5 — (1) Scandiva, (8) Spirit Of Heaven, Race 6 — (4) Puissance De Lune, Race 7 — (4) That’s The One, (5) Serene Star, (7) Amah Rock, Race 8 — (5) You’re So Good, (11) A Time For Julia.

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Dazzling Jewel gives Kavanagh a headache he is happy to have

High expectations: Trainer Mark Kavanagh with champion racehorse Atlantic Jewel. Photo: Paul RovereUnbeaten Atlantic Jewel is making Mark Kavanagh’s job harder with every seemingly effortless gallop.
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”I like to underpromise and overdeliver,” Kavanagh said. ”That is getting a bit hard with her now.”

Atlantic Jewel is a five-year-old mare which has been restricted to only seven runs because of injury caused by her freakish power.

The daughter of Fastnet Rock showed she had lost nothing in her 16-month lay-off when she led and ran 46.10 seconds for an 800-metre jump-out at Flemington on Friday.

She got home her final 400m in 21.68s, usually a time that would have clockers checking their watches, but with her it is just expected.

Kavanagh and his stable jockey Michael Rodd know the pressure will only build from here.

”If she gets beaten it won’t be her fault, so I have to be doing everything right,” Rodd said. ”She is a lot more mature and she is fantastic.

”She has never led in a trial and she did it on her ear. I gave her a little squeeze and she did it within herself.” About the slick time, Rodd added: ”I gave away being shocked by her a long time ago. She has the biggest stride of any horse I have ridden and it all seems so easy.”

Kavanagh will make a decision on a start in the next week or so. Atlantic Jewel could attempt to add another group 1 to her triumphs in the Thousand Guineas and All Aged Stakes – her most recent race-day appearance – in the Memsie Stakes at Caulfield in a fortnight’s time. The easier option is to wait for the Let’s Elope Stakes on her home track of Flemington on September 7, however, that could compromise her program for later in the spring.

”She is showing she might be forward enough for the Memsie and that opens up the options for her,” Kavanagh said.

”She has been out for 16 months but we have had her back in work for six months and we want to get this right, so we will have a look at her next week before doing anything.

”Running in the Memsie would allow her to go to [Moonee] Valley and get an extra run [in the Dato Tan Chin Nam Stakes over 1600m on September 14] before the Underwood [a week later].”

The main goal for Atlantic Jewel is the Cox Plate on October 26.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

GALLERY: Hughes in for the fight of his life

Mark HughesMARK Hughes punched above his weight throughout a nine-year National Rugby League career for the Newcastle Knights.
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That career included two premierships, 161 first-grade games, and three State of Origin appearances for NSW.

That determination and drive has steeled the ‘‘Kid from Kurri Kurri’’, now a 36-year-old father of three, for the fight of his life.

Hughes had an ‘‘avocado-size’’ malignant brain tumour removed two weeks ago and will begin radiotherapy on Monday.

Amid mounting speculation among the Hunter sporting community, and with the staunch support of his wife Kirralee and their children Zac, 9, Dane, 6, and Bonnie, 2, Hughes chose to speak to the Newcastle Herald to set the record straight about his state of health.

‘‘I have got cancer, so I’ve got to start treatment next week to deal with that. There’s some tough times ahead, but I’ve always had to work hard for whatever I’ve got,’’ Hughes said.

‘‘There’s still some hard work to be done, and the prospects are good, but there’s a bit of water to go under the bridge yet.

‘‘Lots of people go through cancer and come out the other end, so I’m not the first person to go through this, and I’m going to tackle it with everything I’ve got and I’m sure I’ll come out the other side.’’

Hughes, who runs his own cleaning company, explained he experienced several days of intense headaches about two months ago.

‘‘I’ve never been one to get headaches, so I went and saw my doctor and he sent me off for a head scan as a precaution,’’ he said.

‘‘That showed something in my brain, but the specialist wasn’t exactly sure at that stage. It was like an avocado-sized darker colour in there,’’ he said.

Follow-up scans three weeks ago confirmed a tumour, which was removed during a four-hour surgical procedure at John Hunter Hospital on August 2.

‘‘I tried to be as positive as possible, and the indications were that it was in a good position and they could get it out pretty well,’’ he said.

‘‘I went in on the Thursday and I ended up getting done about 5 o’clock on the Friday.

‘‘That was the night that the Knights played the Broncos, because my first memory when I woke up was one of the nurses telling me the Knights were getting beat 18-10, and I vaguely remember thinking that’s not going to help my recovery.’’

(The Knights went on to draw 18-18 in extra time).

Hughes could not speak highly enough about his surgeon Dr John Christie, neurologist and Conjoint Professor Chris Levi, long-time Knights medical officer and friend Dr Neil Halpin, and the hospital nursing staff for helping him through his ordeal.

‘‘They’ve all been amazing,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s easy to drive past John Hunter Hospital and not realise what goes on behind those walls. At 5 o’clock on a Friday afternoon, most people are going home or going to the pub or going to the football, and I had my surgeon and his team going in to do surgery on me for the next four hours.

‘‘You put it into perspective, and there were 16,000 or so people watching the Knights and the Broncos that night, and with all due respects to the players, the real heroes are the people that are saving lives. It’s amazing what these guys do, day in and day out. They’re wonderful.’’

For the next few days, Hughes felt better than he thought he would, except for some double-vision and hallucination issues.

‘‘When I was closing my eyes, I was seeing these cartoon figures and 3D illusions, which was pretty weird,’’ he recalled.

‘‘I was talking to Kirralee and it looked like a big clump of her hair floated away into the next room in front of my eyes, but that’s quickly improved.’’

He left hospital late last week and has been overwhelmed by the level of support he has received from his family, friends and former team-mates including Danny Buderus, Andrew Johns, Ben Kennedy and brothers Matt and Kurt Gidley.

‘‘The support I’ve had from my wife, Kirralee, both our families, the Kurri community, all my mates out there, the staff and parents from Holy Family Primary School at Merewether, they’ve all been outstanding,’’ he said.

‘‘Joey’s made five trips up from Sydney to see me, BK and his family have been bringing food around, and everyone’s really rallied around us.

‘‘I always knew with football, probably the best thing about it was the mateship, and that’s been confirmed through all of this, with the people who’ve called and texted to find out how I’m going … The support I’ve had and am still getting has been phenomenal.

‘‘Neil Halpin has known me since I was 20, so it hasn’t surprised me how good he’s been through all this, but he told me and Kirralee that his phone’s on 24 hours a day and I can ring him any time of the day or night – and I know he meant it.’’

Dr Halpin spoke to the Herald with Hughes’s permission, and at his request, to explain the prognosis.

‘‘The situation is that Mark had a posterior cerebral tumour, which was picked up after he was having headaches and some vague funny turns about a month or two ago,’’ Dr Halpin said.

‘‘Initially it was unclear whether it was a tumour, and there was some suggestion it was a stroke, and the rumour got out that he’d had a stroke, but I think it was always going to be a tumour, and he had surgery done two weeks ago.

‘‘He had world-class treatment at John Hunter Hospital. They were magnificent, and he was up and about the following day, after hours and hours of brain surgery.

‘‘He has had histology done, and it’s not a benign tumour, and the grading is not entirely clear yet because we don’t have the final results of the histology and hormone tests on it, but he will be starting radiotherapy on Monday morning.’’

Dr Halpin said the slightly built Hughes, who former team-mates described as ‘‘skinnier than a minute to six, with the shoulders of a brown snake’’, was showing the same courage and character that he demonstrated during his career.

‘‘I think Mark is one of the loveliest guys who ever played for this club,’’ Dr Halpin said.

‘‘He’s a gentle, wonderful person, and he is having the fight of his life, there’s no doubt about that. I think he’s one of the most loved people in the Newcastle community, and in many ways he was such an unlikely footballer – certainly not the stereotype of your average footballer.

‘‘Let me make the point that he’s shown extraordinary bravery through this. His attitude has been so positive – get in there and get it done – which is truly remarkable.

‘‘He’s such an inspiration to everyone else, and he’s been a tower of strength to his wife and his family. You can’t admire the guy enough.’’

From the moment he knew what he was dealing with, Hughes said he was determined to tackle it with a positive attitude.

‘‘It definitely doesn’t scare me to really take this thing on,’’ Hughes said.

‘‘You look at my footy career, I would never have thought I’d have played 160-odd games for the Knights, won two premierships and played for NSW.

‘‘I did all these things that I had to work really hard for during my footy career, and I think some of those traits and skills that I learnt in footy I’m going to be using vigorously over the next couple of months.

‘‘It’s in a good spot, and things are looking good. There’s certainly going to be some hard work ahead and some tough times, but I will get on top of it.

‘‘It’s going to be something I’ll have to monitor for rest of my life.

‘‘I’ve got three kids and a beautiful wife and they’re my motivation to make sure I look after them and get myself fit and get on top of it,’’ he said.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Former Newcastle Knights and NSW State of Origin player Mark Hughes, who has begun radiotherapy after surgery to remove a brain tumour.

Martin turns down Richmond

Hands up for more? …. Richmond young gun Dustin Martin. Photo: Sebastian CostanzoDustin Martin has rejected Richmond’s most recent contract offer, demanding a “fair” deal be done otherwise he will consider his options.
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It’s understood that the Martin camp and the Tigers have a difference of opinion in terms of where the emerging midfielder sits in the pecking order of playing talent at the club, and the flow-on impact of what this has on him financially.

Martin is estimated to be on $450,000 this season, and is understood to be keen to push this to between $600,000 and $650,000. It’s believed the Tigers have looked to the middle ground, offering about $500,000. The length of any deal is not in question.

On the eve of the club’s first finals appearance in 12 years, Martin’s preference is still to remain a Tiger. But after he rejected the Tigers’ latest offer on Wednesday, those close to the goalkicking onballer insist it must be a ”fair” deal and there are up to four clubs interested in trading for the 22-year-old.

Richmond’s general manager of football, Dan Richardson, formerly one of the most astute player agents, said discussions were on-going. “We are still in discussions. We are confident he will be there next year,” he said on Friday.

Earlier, Tigers coach Damien Hardwick said he believed a deal was “pretty close” with Martin.

“Dustin is obviously a fantastic player, an important player in his fourth year,” Hardwick said. “[He] just seems to get better every year so we think that deal will get done in the not too distant future.”

Martin’s manager Ralph Carr, a former Carlton director who played hardball in contract negotiations between Travis Cloke and Collingwood last season, is on holidays and was unavailable for comment.

The Tigers have little room to move as they face a salary-cap squeeze, having recently re-signed several players, including Trent Cotchin, Jack Riewoldt, Alex Rance, Dylan Grimes, Sean Grigg and Daniel Jackson.

Emerging midfielder Reece Conca, 21, has also yet to agree to terms on a new contract. Hardwick said he also believed Conca would re-sign with the club “in the not too distant future”.

Martin has enjoyed an excellent season, and close observers believe he would sit in the top five in the club’s best and fairest. Despite the conjecture about his contract, he has remained focused and is happy and well liked at Punt Road.

Cotchin, Chris Newman, Brett Deledio and development coach Mark Williams have worked closely with the sometimes wayward Martin to help him deal with the disciplines expected of a professional athlete.

However, Cotchin has made it clear this year that financial sacrifice is required if the building Tigers are to enjoy sustainable success.

“Every player in the AFL would love to be paid as much as they possibly can, but the reality is there’s a cap there for that reason. If you want to be part of successful clubs, then sometimes there’s a little bit of sacrifice that needs to be made,” he said.

“We’re all about spending time together, building something and enjoying the whole ride together.”

Riewoldt signed a three-year extension last month, rejecting a massive offer from Fremantle, while Cotchin, Grimes, Grigg, Rance and Jackson will remain at least until the end of 2015.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.