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New Zealand sevens coach
Gordon Tietjens went to sleep
last night pondering how he
would whittle nine players down
to seven for today’s quarter-final
against Australia in Wellington.
The home side cruised through
pool play yesterday with three
victories from as many games as
they topped their group.
who has five
Wellington first-timers in his
squad of 12, was able to give
every member of his side a start
on day one and their Pool B
victims included Canada (26-5),
Papua New Guinea (38-7) and
“In my own mind I think
I’ve got nine guys that I could
equally put out there without
any worries, with some injection
from the bench,” Tietjens said
last night as he cast his mind to
the knockout stages.
second in Pool C, is a handy
side. It is fourth on the overall
standings in the world series, one
place behind New Zealand.
“On their day they play
particularly well,” Tietjens said.
“They ’re a tough team to beat as
well so now we’ve got to get up
for that. ”
delivered in the victory over
England with the likes of Scott
Scurry, D J Forbes and Sher win
Stowers all producing big plays.
Yesterday was about the
young guns as Jack Goodhue,
Rieko Ioane, Dylan Collier and
Beaudein Waaka all made their
first appearance for New Zealand
in the world series.
Some of them will see less of the
field today as the pressure ramps
up in the finals but Tietjens said
they would be better for the
experience and recalled a tale of
one player who made a name for
himself at the Hong Kong event
in the 1990s.
“Their time will come. I
remember Christian Cullen
played one game for me in ‘95
against Chinese Taipei and that ’s
all he played,” Tietjens said.
“But the following year he was
the star. It takes a while. It doesn’t
matter how good you are, it takes
a while to learn the game.”
In Pool A, world series leader
South Africa sur vived its opening
loss against France yesterday to
finish second in the group after it
tipped over United States 26-14
in the final pool game.
The US topped its group for
only the second time in the
world series, and the first since
2001, and it will meet Scotland
in their quarter-final today, while
South Africa will face Kenya
who emerged top from Pool D.
England, which finished second
in Pool B behind New Zealand,
will meet Pool C winner Fiji.
Fiji, which is in second place
on the world series standings,
looked at their dominant best
yesterday as they went through
pool play with three wins from as
France, Japan, Canada, Papua
New Guinea, Wales, Portugal,
Argentina and Samoa all missed
out on the quarter-finals and
will fight out the minor trophies
The Wellington tournament is
the fourth of nine in the world
series. The circuit moves to Las
Vegas next weekend. — N Z ME
Fatherhood has changed Conrad
Smith’s outlook on rugby.
The 85-test veteran became a dad in
August and said he made his decision
after last year’s end of season tour that
2015 would be his final year with the
Smith will join high-flying French
second-division club Pau on a two-
year deal following this year’s World
Cup where the All Blacks will look to
defend their crown.
There were a range of options for
Smith such as retirement, study or
playing overseas and he said joining a
c lub like Pau and living in France with
his wife Leeanne Snowdon and son
Luca was an appealing lifestyle.
“ I’ve loved my time in the All Blacks
and I wouldn’t change a thing but it
does require a lot of time away from
home and that wasn’t a sacrifice I was
willing to carry on making,” he said.
“So that ’s why we were looking at
something else and also, we wanted
to live in Europe, which is something
we’ve wanted to do for a while as well.
“I ’m 33, coming up 34, but physically
I feel the same as I was eight years ago.
But it’s definitely those other factors
that led me to this decision.”
Pau ia coached by former All Black
Simon Mannix and Smith said there
would be an opportunity for him to
do a spot of coaching with the side,
although his lack of French may halt
“I ’m open to it and the little bits I’ve
done, I have enjoyed,” Smith said of
Pau is a small city with a population
of around 85,000 and although the
process to sign the contract was quick,
Smith said he asked former team-
mates such as Ali Williams about what
it was like to play in France.
“I do my research and I don’t make
decisions lightly,” Smith said. “So
I’ve spent a lot of time talking to the
people involved with the club.”
The All Blacks could play up to 12
tests this year depending on how they
go at the World Cup, which would
probably mean Smith would be stuck
somewhere in the mid-90s when he
leaves but he said staying on to play
100 tests was not a focus.
“I’ve been asked about it a few times,”
Smith said of the milestone. “ It ’s a
nice round number but every test I’ve
played has been a special memory.”
Smith is the longest-ser ving player
on the Hurricanes roster and the
skipper said he would love to finish
his time in New Zealand with a Super
“There’s a lot of excitement within
the team but it’s a tough competition.
We know we are going to have to start
The Hurricanes begin their campaign
against the Lions in Johannesburg next
Saturday and Smith said he would be
available for selection. — NZ ME
Fatherhood brings new perspective for Smith
PICTURE: Getty Images
All Black Conrad Smith celebrates at the end of the test match between Wales and New Zealand at the Millennium
Stadium in November at Cardiff.
James Franklin effectively ended
his international career after it
was announced overnight the
34-year-old all-rounder had
signed a two-year contract with
English county Middlesex.
The left-hander is set to play as
a non-overseas player with the
county, subject to clearance from
the England and Wales Cricket
Board, on account of his Irish
Such a classification would
render Franklin ineligible to
continue to represent New
Zealand, for whom he has
featured in 31 tests, 110 one-day
internationals and 38 twenty-20
matches, although the last of
these appearances was in 2013.
Now the left-hander, a
medium-pace bowler, intends to
remain with Wellington until the
end of the current New Zealand
domestic season in early April
before heading to London.
“ While I’m very honoured to
be joining Middlesex for the next
few years, I want to first take my
cap off to Wellington for whom
I’ve had a hugely enjoyable
and memorable career in New
Zealand,” said Franklin in a
“ It’s been an absolute privilege
to play for Wellington for over
“Although this decision closes
the chapter on playing for New
Zealand again I know I’ve been
incredibly fortunate to have spent
over a decade being involved
playing international cricket, and
have had some of my greatest
memories and experiences in
cricket playing with the Silver
Fern on my cap.
“ My family and I will relocate
to London in April and we’re
all very excited about what the
future holds,” added Franklin,
who has previously played county
Nottinghamshire. — AFP
Given the Blues’ problems
winning away from home last
season, yesterday’s pre-season 32-
29 victory over the Hurricanes at
North Harbour will be manna
from heaven for coach John
Yes, QBE Stadium is Blues’
territory — they are playing
their first game proper here next
Saturday — but Kirwan will take
any positives he can get as he
prepares his team for his third
season at the franchise. Last
season it won only once away
from Eden Park — against the
Force in Perth.
It was only a pre-season game
and a trip to South Africa
tomorrow will have been at the
back of the Hurricanes’ minds
but there was a bit to admire
about the Blues’ win. They were
poor defensively early on but
gradually improved to the point
where they were dominating the
collisions in the second half.
Kirwan, who was pleased to
see prop Tony Woodcock get
through half an hour, described
the performance as “100%” better
than their previous effort against
the Chiefs in Whangarei last
weekend when they slumped to
a big defeat.
“Especially around our attitude,”
Kirwan said of the improvement.
“It was a different football team
today . . . they concentrated better
and everyone was on their game
and that ’s important. We’re going
to have to pick it up against next
week even more.”
After a good start the Blues
quickly went behind, but clawed
their way back through their
insistence on taking penalty
kicks and a fair bit of added grit.
On the one hand, taking shots at
goal might seem strange when
they could have worked on their
scrum or lineout instead, but
learning how to defend a lead is
The Blues struck first when
second-five George Moala broke
through, but the Hurricanes,
featuring All Blacks Cory Jane
and T J Perenara, along with
excellent flanker Ardie Savea,
quickly hit back through Blade
Thomson and Brad Shields.
Thomson’s try came straight
after a decision by Chris Pollock
to yellow card Blues lock Culum
Retallick for pulling down a
maul. It appeared harsh given
it was a pre-season match but
Kirwan had no complaints.
A break by elusive fullback
Nehe Milner-Skudder led to an
Ardie Savea try under the posts
to compound things for the
home side, but the Blues struck
from long range when blindside
flanker Joe Edwards did well to
feed Ben Lam, the wing going in
from 50m out.
Ihaia West, who appears set to
wear the No 10 jersey against the
Chiefs next Saturday, kicked his
third penalty to even the score at
19-19 at half-time.
A Blake Gibson try put
the Blues further ahead after
another West penalty. Vaea Fifita
stretched out for the Hurricanes,
but Simon Hickey ’s penalty gave
them breathing space before
Savea’s very late second try for
the Hurricanes. — N Z ME
Blues dig in for
victory over Canes
The Queensland Reds have passed
their final pre-season test with flying
colours, stunning the Crusaders 35-12
In a surprisingly encouraging
performance a week out from their super
rugby opener in Canberra, the injury-
riddled Reds stormed out of the blocks
last night with a blistering four-try first
half in front of an impressive crowd of
They were steered admirably by
Karmichael Hunt, who did enough in his
50 minutes at five-eighth to suggest he
would get the nod against the Brumbies
on Valentine’s Day.
Queensland coach Richard Graham
came in for criticism during the week
for his decision to throw the code-
hopper into the No 10 role following
an unconvincing performance from
youngster Duncan Paia’aua in their first
pre-season trial against the Melbourne
Rebels in Cairns.
He was more than vindicated, with
Hunt not once looking out of place or
out of his depth opposite the world’s
best No 10, All Blacks star Dan Carter.
Hunt ’s kicking was also pinpoint,
landing all four conversions with the
only blot a marginally off-line penalty
attempt just before half-time.
The Reds lacked any sort of fluency
a week earlier but played with serious
intent in the opening stanza after
getting over an early patch of Crusaders
Nine minutes in, a moment of Will
Genia ingenuity put the ball on a platter
for Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, who slipped into
the fullback position left vacant by Hunt.
Genia took a quick tap and then
chipped perfectly for an onrushing
Talugai to hightail it to the line and
open the scoring.
From then on, it was all Reds.
As the Queensland for wards began
exerting their influence, James Hor will
put down back-to-back tries eight
minutes apart - the first off a pick-and-
go, the second on the back of a maul.
The home side were unfortunate not to
be rewarded for a sensational stretch of
running rugby down the right, in which
the ball flicked through multiple pairs of
hands only for Anthony Fainga’a to be
pulled up centimetres short.
A well-held scrum in the 35th minute
pushed the Crusaders back and earned
the Reds a penalty try.
Hunt nailed his fourth conversion
from straight in front and it was 28-0 at
the break — a scoreline few would have
thought possible pre-match.
The Crusaders came back into
calculations in the second half as
Graham rang the changes, scoring tries
either side of Hunt ’s withdrawal for
Paia’aua, who did well in the last half-
The Reds added the icing on the cake
five minutes from time, with substitute
half Nick Frisby playing in Samu Kerevi
and then slotting the conversion with
ease. — AAP
New Zealand’s preparation for the women’s
soccer World Cup has been given a shot
in the arm with warm-up fixtures against
defending champion Japan and Spain.
The 18th-ranked Football Ferns will face
Spain, ranked three places ahead of them, in
two games in March before meeting world
No 4 Japan in May.
The matches bookend another warm-up
against second-ranked United States in St
Louis in April.
Canada hosts the World Cup in June.
Coach Tony Readings says the fixtures will
allow side to test their mettle ahead of the
“ We have lofty ambitions for the World
Cup and these games give us another chance
to measure ourselves against teams with the
same mentality,” Readings said.
“These matches will ensure we are able to
finalise our preparations against some of the
strongest teams in world football.”
The Ferns host a tri-series involving North
Korea and Australia this month and begin the
tournament against North Korea tomorrow.
Football Ferns get World Cup warm-up boost
Horne hat-trick in
Wallabies winger Rob Horne scored
three tries, as defending Super Rugby
champions the NSW Waratahs beat the
Chiefs 38-36 yesterday in a trial match
at Campbelltown Sports Stadium.
NSW, which started the game with
13 test players in its run-on side, scored
six tries to four against a Chiefs side
missing seven All Blacks.
Sonny Bill Williams came on at half-
time to give the crowd of 5103 the
chance to see him and another dual
international, Israel Folau, play on the
same field for the first time in more
than seven years, but almost all of the
fireworks came in a frenetic first half.
The Waratahs scored five tries to three
in a breathless half, which ended with
them holding a 33-28 lead.
While the Chiefs took two early
penalty shots for goal, both teams were
keen to exploit the full width of the
ground, with all four wingers crossing by
the 20-minute mark.
The back three scored four of those
tries for the Tahs, with giant winger
Taqele Naiyaravoro triggering the glut
with his third five-pointer in two trials.
Fellow winger Horne crossed twice
before the break, fullback Folau once
and impressive back-rower Jacques
Potgieter crashed his way over after the
The Chiefs recovered from an early
14-3 deficit to score 18 straight points
and lead by seven.
Wingers Hosea Gear and Bryce Heem
crossed the Waratahs’ stripe, the latter’s
try set up by lock Michael Fitzgerald,
who notched a five-pointer of his
own after charging down a kick from
Waratahs five-eighth Bernard Foley.
However, Foley quickly atoned by
setting up Horne’s second try and
Potgieter’s score meant NSW finished
the half with 12 points.
The second half was less frantic than the
first, with both teams making multiple
changes and Waratahs and Wallabies
lock Will Skelton spent 10 minutes in
the sin-bin for deliberate offside.
The Chiefs cut the Waratahs’ lead to
two with a penalty, but Horne’s third try
gave them a bigger buffer.
Flanker Tevita Kolomatangi scored in
the 74th minute, but Damian McKenzie
missed the conversion and a subsequent
45m penalty attempt in the final 30
seconds. — AAP
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