Mitchell Johnson overcomes injury scare

Test aspirant Mitchell Johnson overcame an injury scare to claim two wickets in Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield clash with South Australia at the WACA Ground.


The Redbacks were bowled out for 222, with paceman Jason Behrendorff (4-58) and Michael Hogan (3-43) doing the bulk of the damage.

Johnson was forced to go off for treatment after digging his big toe into the turf.

But the 32-year-old returned to the fray to collect a late wicket and finish with 2-74 from 16.4 overs.

Johnson missed more than six months of cricket after tearing a tendon in his toe in November, 2011.

However, a WACA spokesperson said Johnson’s latest injury wasn’t related to that setback.

Redbacks opener Phil Hughes blew a good chance to push his case for an Ashes call-up after being dismissed for 25.

Hughes received a life on five when Cameron Bancroft dropped a tough one-handed chance at third slip.

But his luck ran out shortly after, with an attempted hook off the bowling of Behrendorff skying into the air for wicketkeeper Sam Whiteman to catch.

Johnson, who’s also bidding to earn a recall for the first Test against England later this month, opened his day in horrendous fashion, with two of his first three deliveries called wides.

The left-arm quick was lucky not to have another two wides called during the over.

But he soon found his rhythm, and would have claimed the wicket of Sam Raphael in his second over had John Rogers held onto a diving, one-handed chance at gully.

Johnson’s second spell was particularly fiery, with a series of bouncers leaving the Redbacks’ batsmen hopping.

And the left-arm quick finally received some reward when he trapped Travis Head lbw for 51.

Johnson beat the bat on a number of occasions, and also saw an edge from Tom Cooper fly between second and third slip.

The Redbacks were in all sorts of trouble at 7-160, but a half-century to Joe Mennie (50) got the visitors to a reasonable score.

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Pacquiao expecting to beat Rios

Philippine boxing great Manny Pacquiao said on Wednesday he was expecting to defeat American Brandon Rios in Macau later this month, but insisted if he did lose he would not retire.


The 34-year-old, once regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter of his generation, faces the bout of his life in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory as he bids to break a losing streak and keep his boxing legacy intact.

“It’s one of the most important fights of my career because I want to show my fans and the world that I can still compete at a high level with elite boxers,” Pacquiao, speaking from his training camp in the Philippines, told reporters during a group phone interview.

A former champion in an unprecedented eight weight divisions, Pacquiao — who turns 35 in December — is seeking to come back from two consecutive defeats which have led supporters to question if he should hang up his gloves.

His seven-year, 15-fight winning streak came to an end in June 2012 with a controversial split decision loss to Timothy Bradley.

It was followed six months later by a sensational sixth-round knockout defeat to Mexican arch rival Juan Manuel Marquez.

But “Pac-Man”, as he is known to his fans, insisted the losses have not affected him psychologically, and said he did not contemplate being defeated by Rios in the former Portuguese colony on November 24.

“I am expecting to win this fight,” he said of the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) welterweight title bout.

“It’s a really important fight for me in my boxing career because I lost the last two,” Pacquiao added, pledging an “aggressive” strategy.

The Philippine boxing hero-turned-congressman insisted he felt “no extra pressure following the two losses”.

“It doesn’t affect me. As far as boxing is concerned sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.”

Pacquiao’s sporting achievements have made him a national hero, turning him into one of the highest paid sportsmen in the world, a showbiz celebrity and, in 2010, a member of parliament.

He is now a second-term congressman with ambitions of eventually becoming president, and critics have questioned whether his diminishing prowess in the ring was because he had become distracted by his many other endeavours.

Following his excruciating defeat to Marquez — whose hammerblow right at the end of the sixth sent the Filipino crashing to the canvas — family, friends and media commentators called on him to retire.

But Pacquiao, whose record stands at 54-5-2 with 38 knockouts, said Wednesday he had the desire to continue, and losing to 27-year-old Rios would not change that.

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Man United’s Young dives headlong into more controversy

“If you are a Manchester United player and you see a player getting tugged back you want him to go down.


Ashley Young has obviously gone down too much over the last few months,” former United captain Roy Keane said on ITV television.

“He’s been heavily criticised in England, but of course we’re playing in a foreign country and it’s almost more acceptable. But I think he’s conned the referee there.”

Young, who was warned by manager David Moyes earlier in the season about diving, went down easily in front of the referee in the 69th minute after Sociedad’s Markel Bergara appeared to tug his arm.

“This is as bad for me as all these over-the-top tackles we’re getting at the moment because that is a conning of the referee,” Sky Sports pundit and former United player Ray Wilkins said.

“I just wish Ashley would cut this out because he’s a good player but he’s getting a bad name.”

Young has earned a reputation for going down easily in the area and Former United manager Alex Ferguson also “had a word” with him last year after several high-profile incidents in which the England international had fallen over.

This time, however, the player had Moyes’s backing.

“I have seen it and the boy certainly tugs him in the box. If you look, the referee is two yards away for it and decided to give it,” Moyes told reporters.

The draw, during which United squandered several second-half chances and had midfielder Marouane Fellaini sent off in the 90th minute for a second yellow card, left the English champions top of Group A on eight points from four games, one more than second-placed Bayer Leverkusen with two matches to play.

“We are still in a strong position,” Moyes said. “I think if we had won tonight it would have given us a real, real chance of making sure that we are the team who were going to lead the group.

“But we are in a healthy position. You want to be on top but I do feel that we missed out on the chance tonight of making sure it was three (points).”

(Writing by Alison Wildey; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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Barwick thrilled with World Cup

The Rugby League World Cup has so far surpassed the expectations of Rugby Football League chairman Brian Barwick.


The 14th edition of the tournament is well under way and is proving far more successful than the last time it graced UK shores 13 years ago.

Then, hampered by weather, the competition proved a financial disaster and left the RFL in debt.

There are no such problems this time around, though, with RFL chief Barwick revealing the tournament is set to make a profit.

The former Football Association chief executive has been “thrilled to bits” by the opening two weeks of the competition and is excited by its potential legacy for the sport.

“It has exceeded our expectations in terms of the amount of people going to the games, the level of media interest and the quality of the games as well,” Barwick said on Wednesday.

“I mean, there were over 10,000 at Leigh last night for Tonga versus the Cook Islands and we’re up to 70,000 tickets for the final.

“We have been astonished. We have had sell-outs at Rochdale, Warrington and Avignon, we’ve had two sell-outs at Workington. We’ve had the highest crowds to watch rugby league in Cumbria for 20 years.”

Even in Bristol, which is not known as a rugby league hotspot, 8000 supporters had turned out.

“Both the games England played on the BBC peaked at over two million. These are new figures for us,” he said.

“I think the trick with rugby league is that it is a world-class sport but has a real family feel to it.

“It has more than exceeded our expectations. We are thrilled with it.”

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Woods open to Ryder Cup talks with Watson

World No.


1 Tiger Woods will welcome any move to sit down with USA Ryder Cup captain, Tom Watson and “clear the air” before next year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, Scotland.

Watson was extremely critical of Woods in the months following revelations in late 2009 of Woods’ many extra-marital affairs.

And at the recent One Year to Go celebrations in Scotland ahead of the 2014 Ryder Cup, Watson said he had not talked with Woods privately and would “have to sit down and have a conversation with him”.

Woods was questioned on the subject on Wednesday as guest of honour at a packed press conference ahead of Thursday’s start of the $US7.0 million ($A7.4 million) Turkish Airlines Open.

The event is the third in the European Tour’s Final Series and with Woods being the only non-European Tour member competing.

“No, we haven’t spoken yet but I am sure as we have another year plus or about a year ahead of us, so there will be a lot of time between now and then to talk,” Woods said.

Woods also defended his decision not to contest last week’s $US8.5 million WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai.

The 14-time winner instead spent the week after his Match at Mission Hills against Rory McIlroy attending to corporate engagements as well as hosting junior clinics in Macau and Singapore.

Giles Morgan, Head of Global Sponsorship with banking giant, HSBC last week indicated that Woods’ absence at Sheshan Golf Club is “something, from the tour’s point of view, that needs to be looked at”.

The prolific WGC-winning Woods had a simple response saying: “I am an independent contractor.”

Woods is competing in Turkey for a second year running after being a member of the elite number of golfers who participated in last year’s Turkish Airlines Invitational and an event where most players, with Woods an exception, wore shorts.

“We had a fantastic time last year but then it was a different format as we played match-play, and it was an occasion where a couple of the guys wore shorts and worked on their tans,” he said.

“However, this week has now turned into one of the biggest events on the European circuit so I am excited to be here and excited to go out and take a look at the golf course today.”

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I owe my England chance to Warne, says Carberry

The former Australia spinner told British media one-test Carberry would make a better opener than talented youngster Root and was duly vindicated on Wednesday when county cricket veteran Carberry shared an unbeaten first wicket stand of 318 with Cook on the opening day of the Hobart tour match against Australia A.


Warne, who now dissects English players as a television pundit after a career of worrying them with his legspin, may live to rue praising 33-year-old Carberry after his former Hampshire protégé got a big confidence boost with his unbeaten 153 at Bellerive Oval.

“I think Shane Warne is basically the reason I actually got a chance to play test cricket,” Carberry told reporters of his mentor, who captained Hampshire from 2004-07.

“I was a young guy who was a little bit lost in county cricket. I didn’t really get an opportunity.

“I came to Hampshire and from day one he made me feel very very much at home. He gave me the backing any young player needs and allowed me to play a brand of cricket that I wanted to play.

“So I think he was very influential in terms of me actually doing what I’ve done and obviously getting a chance of playing for England.”

England are bidding for a fourth straight Ashes success after winning the first of this year’s back-to-back series 3-0 at home.


Warne’s scathing criticism of Cook, saying his lack of invention as a captain could cost England the Ashes, drew a predictable “look at the scoreboard” response from Cook on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the England captain let his bat do the talking as he compiled an unbeaten 154 to pick up where he left off in Australia after his dominant three-century effort during the 2010-11 Ashes tour, which England won 3-1.

Pundits suggested Cook should ignore Warne’s ‘trash talking’ but he appeared to heed the Australian’s more constructive advice when Root was named to play at number five in Hobart.

Carberry played his sole test against Bangladesh in 2010 and has not had a second chance since, having suffered a blood clot in his lung that prevented him boarding long-haul flights and with former captain Andrew Strauss and Cook firmly ensconced at the top of the order until a year ago.

Concerned that health problems could cut his career short, he became a qualified electrician and had little idea he would be padding up for England on their tour Down Under until a few weeks ago.

“Nothing much was really explained to me,” Carberry said of his selection as an opener for the Hobart match on Wednesday.

“I was just told: ‘Carbs, you’re going in with Cookie’ and that was good enough for me.

“To do it for England is a very special moment and (in) Aussie (Australia) to do it, even better.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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Louw backs breakdown specialist Gray in battle on floor

Louw, South Africa’s chief exponent in poaching and securing the ball on the ground, says the art plays a much greater role in matches in the northern hemisphere where referees are generally happier to allow teams more opportunity to contest.


“Richie has been great for us, he is a great addition to the coaching set-up with his philosophies around the breakdown,” Bath loose forward Louw told a news conference in Cardiff, where Saturday’s test takes place.

“Being a Scot he is obviously a bit more attuned to how the guys play over here. He brings a different perspective to that area.

“The guys have really caught on to him and believe in his views and the things he is saying. He has come up with some great drills and helped the guys develop their skills at the breakdown.

“We are now making the correct decisions, especially on defence, when to go in and when not to, and on attack you obviously want to get in there early to stop the opposition slowing your ball down.”

Irishman Alain Rolland will be in charge of Saturday’s match, the first time he will referee Wales since their 9-8 World Cup semi-final defeat by France in 2011 in which he sent off Welsh captain Sam Warburton.

“I think we have seen in the past, certainly in the last year, that northern hemisphere referees like to allow the breakdown to develop and allow more of a contest there,” Louw said.

“I think it is a big point in northern hemisphere rugby, guys do compete there, they like to counter-ruck and slow the opposition ball down. It is going to be a big challenge for us.

“The breakdown is a massive element, if we have a good platform to attack from it is always going to make you better as a side.”

After Wales this weekend, South Africa will play Scotland in Edinburgh on November 17 and France in Paris on November 23.

(Writing by Nick Said; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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Banker payment was ‘insurance policy’, says F1’s Ecclestone

Billionaire Ecclestone is defending a $100 million damages claim brought by German media firm Constantin Medien who accuse him and three other defendants of deliberately undervaluing Formula One in the 2005 sale to safeguard his position as CEO.


The legal fallout from the sale of a controlling stake in the business to CVC is threatening Ecclestone’s four-decade hold on the glamorous motor sport and complicating stalled efforts to float it on the stock market in Singapore.

A Munich court in 2012 jailed Gerhard Gribkowsky, former chief risk officer at German bank BayernLB, for tax evasion and bribery for taking a $44 million payment after the 2005 sale.

Ecclestone, 83, said he paid Gribkowsky 10 million pounds ($16 million) but said that was because the German banker was threatening to make damaging claims about a family trust to the British tax authorities that could have cost him up to 2 billion pounds.

“What I paid him was a very small amount, what I call an insurance policy,” Ecclestone told a hearing at the High Court in London, calling it “quite a cheap insurance policy”.

He said there was no link to a deal in which CVC paid BayernLB $830 million for a 47 percent stake in Formula One. “This issue was nothing to do with anyone except Gribkowsky and myself, nobody else.”


Ecclestone has run Formula One for four decades, turning it into a money-spinner with annual revenue of around $2 billion generated by races held around the world watched by hundreds of millions of TV viewers.

A German court is due to decide next year whether Ecclestone himself should stand trial on bribery charges linked to the Gribkowsky payment. Ecclestone denies any wrongdoing.

Giving evidence in the damages case brought by Constantin Medien, Ecclestone repeated previous statements that he was being put under pressure by Gribkowsky who he feared would make false claims about his tax affairs.

He denied misleading Formula One board members including Martin Sorrell, chief executive of advertising group WPP, and Peter Brabeck, chairman of Nestle, about payments to Gribkowsky.

“It wasn’t the slightest concern of theirs,” he said. “I paid him because I was being I said ‘shaken down’,” he added, saying this was what he had told the Formula One directors in 2011 after Gribkowsky had been arrested.

Constantin is the successor to German media firm and former shareholder EM.TV. It says it missed out on a share of the proceeds had the sale price for the stake exceeded $1.05 billion.

It argues that Ecclestone favoured a sale to CVC because it planned to keep him on as CEO of a business which he continues to run as a hands-on chief executive.

Questioned repeatedly in court about newspaper reports quoting him after the Gribkowsky arrest, Ecclestone said: “Most of these journalists should be working closely with, what’s his name, Jeffrey Archer,” referring to the best-selling author and former Member of Parliament.

(Editing by David Holmes)

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South Africa recall World Cup winners Pietersen, Fourie

Fourie has not played for the Springboks since the 2011 World Cup after deciding to continue his rugby career in Japan, while Pietersen has not featured this year.


Both played in the 2007 World Cup-winning campaign and are among five key backline players from that tournament named in the team by coach Heyneke Meyer along with captain Jean de Villiers, wing Bryan Habana and scrumhalf Fourie du Preez.

“We’re very fortunate to have two world class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get then into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer said in a South African Rugby Union (SARU) press release on Wednesday.

“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”

Uncapped 22-year-old prop Frans Malherbe also comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis, while the only other change to the pack of forwards is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the middle row.

“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” said Meyer.

“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good. I’m very happy for Frans.”

Pieter-Steph du Toit, could also make his test debut after the lock was included on the bench.

South Africa and Wales last met in Wellington during the pool stage of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. The Springboks won 17-16 thanks to a late try by Francois Hougaard.

South Africa team:

15-Pat Lambie, 14-JP Pietersen, 13-Jaque Fourie, 12-Jean de Villiers (captain), 11-Bryan Habana, 10-Morne Steyn, 9-Fourie du Preez; 8-Duane Vermeulen, 7-Willem Alberts, 6-Francois Louw, 5-Flip van der Merwe, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Frans Malherbe, 2-Bismarck du Plessis, 1-Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: 16-Adriaan Strauss, 17-Gurthro Steenkamp, 18-Coenie Oosthuizen, 19-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20-Siya Kolisi, 21-Ruan Pienaar, 22-JJ Engelbrecht, 23-Willie le Roux

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Ken Ferris)

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Springboks hand Malherbe Test debut

Prop Frans Malherbe is to make his debut for South Africa against Wales on Saturday, while other injuries have forced coach Heyneke Meyer into picking an experienced backline.


The 22-year-old Malherbe comes in for the injured Jannie du Plessis and faces a baptism of fire against a tested Welsh front-row of British and Irish Lions veterans Adam Jones, Richard Hibbard and Gethin Jenkins.

“Frans has big boots to fill, but he’s been with us for most of 2012 and shown good form since recovering from injury recently and we don’t have any doubts that he has what it takes to make the step up,” Meyer said on Wednesday.

Malherbe will pack down alongside hooker Bismarck du Plessis and experienced Zimbabwe-born prop Tendai Mtawarira, something not lost on Meyer.

“He’ll have two players with more than 50 Test caps each next to him in the scrum, and his general work-rate across the field and on defence is very good,” the coach said.

The only other change to the pack is at lock, with Flip van der Merwe starting next to Eben Etzebeth in the second row.

Star backs JP Pietersen and Jaque Fourie are also back in the Springbok team for the match at the Millennium Stadium.

It will be Fourie’s first Test for South Africa since the Rugby World Cup in 2011, while a combination of injury and non-availability means Pietersen is back for his first taste of international rugby yet this season.

“We’re very fortunate to have two world-class players in JP and Jaque available for selection and I wanted to get them into the action as soon as possible,” Meyer said.

“They bring a vast amount of experience to the team and it was clear from our training sessions thus far that they are in great form and ready for Test rugby.”

A second uncapped player, Pieter-Steph du Toit, could make his Test debut for the Springboks, the lock having been included on the bench for this Test.

“To see Frans and Pieter-Steph make the step up to Test match rugby is wonderful,” Meyer said.

“They are two very promising young players and deserve to play for the Springboks, just like we’ve used, with great success, players such as Willie le Roux, Jan Serfontein, JJ Engelbrecht, Arno Botha, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Trevor Nyakane in the last two seasons.”

Saturday’s match will be the first time the two countries have met since the Springboks edged a 2011 World Cup pool game in Wellington 17-16.

Wales, however, went on to reach the semi-finals and take successive Six Nations titles.

Wales have beaten South Africa just once in 26 internationals stretching back 107 years.

South Africa (15-1)

Pat Lambie; JP Pietersen, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers (capt), Bryan Habana; Morne Steyn, Fourie du Preez; Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts, Francois Louw; Flip van der Merwe, Eben Etzebeth; Frans Malberhe, Bismarck du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira

Replacements: Adriaan Strauss, Gurthro Steenkamp, Coenie Oosthuizen, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi, Ruan Pienaar, JJ Engelbrecht, Willie le Roux

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