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New South Wales skipper Robbie
Farah has disagreed with his coach
Laurie Daley, saying the Blues players do
not fear Queensland ahead of tonight ’s
State of Origin opener in Sydney.
But Farah admits the Blues are wary of
a Maroons outfit that had their record
eight straight series winning streak
snapped last year.
Asked if he agreed with Daley ’s
statement on Monday that New South
Wales fear Queensland, Farah said:
“Not fear. We respect them, we know
what they are capable of.
“For us last year is gone now.
“They are a champion side and will
want to bounce back.”
However Farah believed NSW had
a distinct advantage hosting Origin I
at what he hoped would be a sell-out
“Game one is such an important
game,” he said. “ To have it here, a place
we love playing at, makes it very special
for us and very difficult for Queensland.
Hopefully it will be sold out and a very
Statistics back Farah’s view.
In the 33 series since the three-game
format ’s introduction in 1982, the team
that has won the first instalment has
gone on to clinch the title 24 times.
New South Wales have won the first
contest in 11 of their 13 series victories
Farah claimed to be unaware of
the problems that have plagued
Queensland’s Origin camp which lost
Daly Cherry-Evans (shoulder) to injury
and sweated on the fitness of Greg Inglis
(tonsillitis), Billy Slater (shoulder) and
Justin Hodges (foot).
However he was glowing about
NSW’s ‘perfect ’ preparation, saying the
Blues were buzzing thanks to their new
The enthusiasm of debutant forwards
David Klemmer and Josh Jackson
has rubbed off on team-mates while
Andrew Fifita and Mitchell Pearce have
been embraced upon their return.
“There is a lot of excitement,” he said.
“Even guys like Fifita who is back in this
arena after a year off and Mitch Pearce
(who also missed 2014), they have been
great and are just looking for ward to it.
“ We have had everyone training since
day one which I think is important.
“ We are confident. We have ticked all
the boxes. That ’s one thing, now we have
to get the job done.”
New South Wales: Josh D ugan, Daniel
Tupou, Josh Morris, Michael Jennings,
Will Hopoate, Mitchell Pearce, Trent
Hodkinson, James Tamou, Robbie Farah
(c), Aaron Woods, Beau Scott, Ryan
Hoffman, Josh Jackson, Interchange:
Trent Merrin, Boyd Cordner, David
Klemmer, Andrew Fifita.
Queensland: Billy Slater, Darius
Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Will
Chambers, J Thurston, Cooper Cronk,
Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (c), Nate
Myles, Aidan Guerra, Sam Thaiday,
Corey Parker. Interchange: Michael
Morgan, Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett,
Jacob Lillyman, Dylan Napa. — AAP
Central Pulse defender Katrina
Grant is likely to be the first
player punished under the
trans-Tasman league’s revamped
disciplinary procedures following
an ugly post-match confrontation
with umpire Jono Bredin last
Grant will today face a
misconduct hearing after the
league’s disciplinary officer ruled
that she had a case to answer
following an official complaint
from Bredin over the Silver Ferns
defender’s actions following the
Pulse’s round 12 draw with the
The Pulse skipper was seen
on the television coverage
immediately after the game
angrily remonstrating with
Bredin, who awarded the Steel
a penalty shot under the post to
draw the match. Bredin called
a contact on Grant in the dying
seconds of regular time as she
attempted a late intercept.
Unimpressed with Grant ’s
reaction to the call — which
amounted to little more than a
shocked expression — Bredin
advanced the penalty into the
shooting circle, giving the Steel
shooter Brooke Leaver a chance
to snatch the draw. Leaver’s shot
was off target but was rebounded
by 1.98m Jamaican shooter
Jhaniele Fowler-Reid who slotted
the goal on fulltime.
Grant went straight to Bredin
to protest the call, and a heated
exchange followed. Netball New
Zealand umpiring manager
Colleen Bond was forced to step
in and order Grant away.
The hearing will take place
today, with possible sanctions
including a fine or suspension. It
is the first time a player has faced
a misconduct hearing in eight
seasons of the league.
Last week Mainland Tactix
coach Sue Hawkins was issued
with a reprimand by the league
office after criticising the
umpiring in a sideline inter view
during her side’s 68-49 loss to
the Swifts. But with Grant ’s very
public display of dissent at the
more serious end of the scale, it
is difficult to see her escaping
Grant ’s outburst was perhaps
symptomatic of a long and
frustrating season for the Pulse.
The round 12 match against the
Steel was a must-win if they were
to scrape into the New Zealand
After blowing that opportunity
and then dipping out to the
Magic on Monday night, the
Wellington-based side look set
to once again miss out on the
The Pulse are viewed as
ungracious and arrogant, quick to
deflect the blame for their own
poor performances. Retiring coach
Robyn Broughton’s replacement
— believed to be former Silver
Fern defender Tanya Dearns —
has a massive task to fix the culture
at the Pulse. An announcement
confirming Dearns as coach is
expected this week. — N ZM E
Grant may face sanction after
confrontation with umpire
New Zealand tennis No 1
Marina Erakovic is vowing to
come back stronger after a gut-
wrenching loss on centre court at
the French Open last night.
The 27-year-old world No 80
battled for nearly two-and-a -
half hours before falling 6-4 3-6
6-4 to Czech fourth seed Petra
In a match which seesawed
throughout with both players
converting six of 15 break-point
chances, Erakovic came up just
short in first appearance on centre
court at a grand slam.
“It’s funny because it’s
something I have to experience
a little bit more of playing in
the big arenas against the top
players,” Erakovic said. “I ’m not a
young bird any more, but I think
the more experience I get the
better I go and I will continue
working hard and try to improve.
Hopefully after having a little
sulk I will get up and carry on.”
The reality is it is another tough
pill to swallow for Erakovic, who
has been on the wrong end of too
many tight defeats over the past
This was one of her best
performances in a grand slam.
Kvitova is one of the best players
in the world who some believe is
destined to become world No 1.
The left hander has a devastating
forehand, big ser ve and moves
well. They are weapons that have
helped her win Wimbledon
But against Erakovic, the
Czech was error-prone — 47
unforced errors on the official
count and many more forced by
Erakovic who mixed things up
well by taking the pace away from
Kvitova at times.
“I did a lot of things right,”
Erakovic said. “ I ser ved pretty
well and had a lot of break-point
chances. It ’s difficult to take
because I would like to get some
of these close matches going my
way. I guess in the third set she
hit a couple of lines at 4-4 and
things could have gone either
way. It was a good match overall
and I would like to be positive
but it’s tough as I would have
liked to win it. ”
It was in stark contrast to the
6-4 6-4 defeat by the Czech in
the second round in Paris last
“Last year, I felt tactically it
should have been different and
today I felt I played well and I did
quite a few things right. In that
sense, it’s very positive and it’s
also positive that it ’s my first big
centre court match and got into
the swing of things pretty quickly.
But there’s a winner and loser
and today I’m a loser so it sucks
Erakovic still has the doubles
to contemplate playing with
Britain’s Heather Watson. The
pair open their campaign against
third seeds Timea Babos of
Hungary and Frenchwoman
Kristina Mladenovic tomorrow.
Two of the three New Zealand
players on doubles action bowed
out with Artem Sitak the only
one to progress.
Sitak and his American partner
Nicolas Monroe defeated
German D ustin Brown and
Austrian Andreas Haider Maurer
4-6 6-4 6-4.
But Michael Venus and his
Croatian partner Mate Pavic
fell 6-2 6-4 to Pablo Andujar
and Olivier Marach and Marcus
Daniell and Steve Darcis fell
7-5 6-1 to seventh seeds Nenad
Zimonjic and Marcin Matkowski.
— N Z ME-New Zealand Herald
Erakovic vows to bounce back from loss
PICTURE: Getty Images
Marina Erakovic returns a shot during her women’s singles match against Petra Kvitova.
Festivities for the Fifa U-20
World Cup kicked off in Auckland
yesterday, as the Junior All Whites
were officially welcomed at Aotea
About 200 people turned out
to greet the New Zealand U-20
players, as well as coaches and
officials from Fifa and New Zealand
Football, who were welcomed by
representatives of Ngati Whatua.
Despite periods of rain, eager
fans joined the Auckland Girls’
Grammar 1st XI football team
and players from Western Springs
Football Club in football activities
in the square.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown
welcomed players and officials, and
said the Fifa tournament was “huge
for the nation. Give it heaps.”
He urged those heading to games
to wear all white in support of the
U-20 All Whites. “ We want a white-
out at North Harbour Stadium.”
MC Stephen McIvor then
inter viewed Junior All Whites
captain Bill Tuiloma and coach
The formal part of the welcome
ended with New Zealand players
lining up to hongi members of
The team then took part in an
A ‘keepy-uppy ’ tournament took
place earlier in the afternoon while
fans waited for the players to arrive,
with a lucky few catching World
Cup footballs as they were kicked
into the crowd.
Riley Hancock, at the event with
his brother and parents, was excited
about the upcoming World Cup
The seven-year-old, a member of
Eastern Suburbs Football Club, said
he was looking for ward to seeing
players from all around the world,
“ because they will be rising stars”.
George and Harry Walker,
members of Western Springs
Football Club, have tickets to the
final at North Harbour Stadium and
hope New Zealand make it that far.
The brothers, who were decked
out in their All Whites football kit,
would be attending all but one game
at North Harbour Stadium with
their parents Ralph and Anna.
George, eight, was expecting
football fever at their school,
Maungawhau Primary in Mt Eden.
Mrs Walker said her boys had
bought their tournament tickets the
minute they went on sale, marking
every day off on the calendar ever
Harry, six, had already made
his mind up on who would win
Saturday ’s opening game.
“Probably New Zealand, I think
it ’s going to be 2-1,” he said.
NZME-New Zealand Herald
Auckland welcomes Junior All Whites
Coverage of the 2015 Coast to Coast
won NZME the best sports story/event
award at the recent New Zealand Radio
Awards, beating coverage of the All
Blacks end of year tour.
Christchurch sports journalist Brian
Ashby was ‘delighted’ the NZME team
of himself, L esley Murdoch, James
Sheehan, Gavin Searle, Adam Cooper,
Russell Cryer and Tim Dyer beat off
strong competition that also included
NZME’s coverage of Warriors coach
Matthew Elliott ’s sacking.
“The Coast to Coast is technically
extremely difficult and demanding to
cover,” Ashby said.
“The athletes take on difficult terrain
and so do we, pushing our technical limits
and capabilities to make the coverage
happen. The 2014 event was broadcast
on NZME’s dedicated sport platform
Radio Sport, with reports on Newstalk
ZB and across the iHeart Radio platform
making the event coverage accessible to
a worldwide audience for the first time.”
Ashby said it was an experienced and
knowledgeable team and a combination
of their efforts over a period of time, all
focused on delivering the best coverage
possible for the iconic event that really
made the difference.
“The rewarding side for us is not
just seeing the elite competitors, the
Curries, Usshers, Gurneys and Simsons
all performing wonderfully, it’s the
tremendous human interest stories,
the weekend warriors battling against
mortgages, time constraints with work
and family commitments, that makes the
event so relatable to so many people.”
Entries open on Friday for the 2016
Coast to Coast.
Coast to Coast coverage
wins radio award
The Eiffel Tower was still standing,
the River Seine was flowing away to the
sea, the traffic clogged the Peripherique
and Rafa Nadal still ruled Roland
To all intents and purposes it was a
normal day at the French Open as
Nadal claimed victory number 67 since
making his debut in the event in 2005.
It felt a little different though as the
soon-to-be 29-year-old walked on to
Court Phillipe Chatrier, the rectangle
of red clay that has been the stage for his
nine titles in a decade of unprecedented
Such has been Nadal’s malaise this
year, with claycourt defeats piling
up from Monte Carlo to Rome, the
Spaniard arrived in Paris only second
favourite to claim a record-extending
Tasked with providing the first test
of Nadal’s supposed fragile confidence
was French teenager Quentin Halys, a
wildcard making his grand slam debut.
He did just that, pushing 14-times
grand slam champion Nadal hard
before succumbing 6-3 6 -3 6 -4.
Nadal often takes time to get fully
into his stride at Roland Garros so
yesterday ’s one hour 50 minute workout
offered few clues over the health of his
His racket was equipped with
computer technology, meaning he can
download statistics for later analysis.
But the sixth seed knows he will
have to reboot his game to win the
title, having been placed in the same
half of the draw as world No 1 Novak
Djokovic and third seed Andy Murray.
Tournament favourite Djokovic, like
Nadal, waited two days for his opening
match but quickly found his stride with
a 6-2 7 -5 6-2 defeat of Finn Jarkko
The Serb, whose winning march now
extends to 23 matches, came within a
point of a 5-1 deficit in the second set
but extricated himself to clinch victory
with trademark precision.
Women’s top seed Serena Williams
joined the party, lighting up a dull
evening with a pink outfit and some
powerful tennis to beat Czech qualifier
Andrea Hlavackova 6-2 6-3.
Ostrava (Czech Republic
Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt
has overcome rain-soaked, chilly
conditions to streak to his new
season best in winning his favoured
200m at the Golden Spike meet.
In the eastern Czech city of
Ostrava, the 28-year-old world
and Olympic champion -- who
also holds the world 100 and 200m
records, clocked 20.13 seconds on
Tuesday, almost a second behind
his world record of 19.19sec set
back in 2009.
In his only previous appearance
over 200m this season.
There was more Jamaican joy
in the 100m, with former world
record holder Asafa Powell winning
in 10.04sec, a steady distance off
Bolt ’s record of 9.58sec.
“I felt very good and the time in
these weather conditions is not that
bad after all,” Powell said. — AFP
Usain Bolt posts season best 200m
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