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of the New Zealand Herald
The Tall Blacks’ hopes of
qualifying for the 2016 Rio
Olympics were dealt a heavy blow
on Tuesday night, but their future
qualifying prospects look much
An 89-79 defeat at the hands
of the Australian Boomers saw
Australia qualify for the Olympics,
and left the Tall Blacks set to fight
for their last lifeline in June and
July 2016 at one of three six-team
tournaments, with the winner of
each tournament booking their spot
at the Rio games.
Despite the tough battle to make
Rio, the future qualifying route for
the Olympics is set to result in a
boon for New Zealand basketball.
No longer will the Tall Blacks
have to battle solely against the
impressive Australians, with FIBA
president Horacio Muratore
confirming that New Zealand and
Australia will move into the Asian
qualifying zone from the 2017
qualifying cycle onwards. The move
will prove hugely beneficial to not
only the Tall Blacks’ chances of
qualifying, but also for the growth
of the game as a whole in New
Zealand, with the Tall Blacks set
to play six home and six away
games in the qualifying process.
That news means far more
opportunities for New Zealand
fans to see the Tall Blacks play
on home soil, while the 12
games on offer will provide
more revenue for Basketball
New Zealand, and a greater
chance for the squad to
integrate, improve and showcase
themselves on the world stage.
The Tall Blacks are ranked
21st in the world — a ranking
which would place them fourth
in the Asian confederation
behind Australia (11th), China
(14th) and Iran (17th). Add in
the improvement of promising
young talent going off to college
basketball — such as Tai Wynyard,
Sam Timmins and Matt Freeman
— a nd the Tall Blacks could
find themselves in a much better
scenario to snare one of the Asian
qualifying spots for both the World
Cup and the Olympics.
The same move to the Asian
qualifying circuit applies for the
Tall Ferns and age-group sides —
with the Tall Ferns set to especially
benefit from the change after again
being outclassed by the Australian
Opals in their qualifying series.
With the Ferns having never
come close to toppling the Opals
in the 31-year history of the FIBA
Oceania Women’s Championship,
they will no longer have to solely
match themselves against the
world’s second best side to qualify.
Instead, the change will give their
promising young group of players
the chance to get a decent amount
of games in against similar quality
opposition, and increase their
shot of making it to the biggest
tournaments in women’s basketball.
of the New Zealand Herald
Remember Sydney! That could
be the catch-cry of the All Blacks
as they prepare for the World
Cup in England and Wales next
While some have used the
emphatic Bledisloe Cup victory
over the Wallabies to banish
memories of a rough night out
the week before, the All Blacks
will not be doing the same.
If anything, the 27-19 loss in
Sydney will be the match that
lingers longer in the memory
banks: used as a timely reminder
that when it comes to World
Cup knockouts, you’re only as
good as your worst performance.
“Unfortunately, to really remind
you of what it takes to win
each game, an experience like
(Sydney) certainly sorts that out,”
All Black captain Richie McCaw
told the Herald.
World Cup, we’ ll be on the plane.”
In that respect, he is echoing coach Steve
Hansen, who also stopped some way
short of crowing after the retention of the
“If you’re good enough to win your pool
or come second (at the World Cup), you get
one more and that ’s it.
“That was the lesson in 2007,” he said,
casting back to the Cardiff debacle against
France, which followed four ludicrously easy
The Eden Park victory was widely
The All Blacks have not lost on the ground
since 1994, have not lost to Australia there
since 1986 and were farewelling, from New
Zealand shores at least, McCaw, Ma’a Nonu,
Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu, Tony
Woodcock and Dan Carter.
It was the performance of first five-eighths
Carter that would have given greatest
comfort. On Eden Park he took on the line,
made a searing break that led to a try and
“The big thing is, and I think we showed
this, you don’t become a bad team because of
one bad performance,” McCaw said.
“ We kept the belief, but there were some
honest conversations after that Sydney test
about what we didn’t quite get right. We’re
in good shape but we can’t get ahead of
The All Blacks have a comparatively
weak pool at the World Cup — Argentina,
Tonga, Georgia and Namibia — so will use
the Sydney test as a reminder of what can
go wrong when they inevitably get to the
Sonny Bill Williams will take
another step into the unknown
when he attempts to win an
Olympic sevens gold medal at Rio
de Janeiro next year, an opportunity
he says could be the biggest
challenge of his career.
The All Blacks midfielder, who will
concentrate fulltime on sevens next
year which will rule him out of the
Chiefs season, said attempting to
adapt to sevens, a game he had never
played before, would be “scary”.
However, after making a
reasonably smooth transition from
league to union and back several
times, plus his experiences in the
ring as a boxer, Williams and
national coach Gordon Tietjens
will be quietly confident he will be
Asked why he wanted to change
to sevens, Williams said: “It ’s
simple. The Olympics. Going back
in time, the best sportsmen ever
have been Olympians. (Usain) Bolt,
(Muhammad) Ali, the list goes on.
It ’s just an amazing opportunity to
become one of those. As a rugby
player you strive to be an All Black,
win a World Cup and win a Super
Rugby title. As a league player, for
myself, you strive to win a comp. I ’m
lucky enough to have achieved that
... but most sportspeople would love
to go to the Olympics and I haven’t
“I’m not too sure,” he said when
asked how he would go in the
shortened version of the game.
“It ’s going to be a massive
challenge, probably the biggest
of my career. I’m going to give it
my all and time will tell. Titch
explained all the training regimes
I have to become accustomed to. I
don’t know if I’m going to be any
good at sevens. That ’s why it ’s pretty
scary. I’m sure as hell going to try
my hardest ... all I can do is try my
best and it ’s going to be an honour
if I put on that sevens jersey because
there have been some great players
who have played and are still playing
in the team.
Williams, 25, a handful for
opposition defences in the 15-player
game, has the potential to be
devastating in the world series and
Olympics next year with his power
and offloading skills.
He is a near certainty to be
selected for the All Blacks’ World
Cup squad at the end of the month,
but once that ’s over he will have a
break and quickly change focus.
The more aerobic style of the game
and training sessions are likely to
have an effect on his body shape,
which he acknowledged.
“ Your body is a funny thing, it
seems to adapt to different types of
training. You just have to do it often
and next year with sevens training
hopefully my body will adapt.”
Williams’ Chiefs team-mate Liam
Messam has also been selected in
the sevens squad, as has Hurricane
Ardie Savea — but both of the loose
for wards will also be available for
some Super Rugby matches.
Williams, who does not know
what position he will play or which
tournaments he would play in,
said: “ The other players have had
sevens experience, but I’ve had
nothing. I think going into such a
big campaign for me to put my best
foot for ward I know that (playing
fulltime) is the only way.”
NZ sevens squad.— Dylan Collier
(Waikato), Scott Curry (Bay of
Plenty), Sam Dickson (Canterbury),
D J Forbes (Counties Manukau),
Gillies Kaka (Hawke’s Bay), Akira
Ioane (Auckland), Rieko Ioane
(Auckland), Ben Lam (Auckland),
Liam Messam (Waikato), Tim
Mikkelson (Waikato), Ardie Savea
(Wellington), Sher win Stowers
(Counties Manukau), Sam Vaka
(Counties Manukau), Beaudein
Waaka (Taranaki), Joe Webber
(Waikato), Sonny Bill Williams
Sevens series.— D ubai, December
4-5, 2015; Cape Town, Dec 12-13;
Wellington, January 30-31, 2016;
Sydney, February 6-7; Las Vegas,
March 4-6; Vancouver, March
12-13; Hong Kong, April 8-10;
Singapore, April 16-17; Paris, May
14-15; London, May 21-22; Rio de
Janeiro, Olympics, August 6-11 .
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South Africa held off a late rally
by New Zealand’s tailenders to win
the first one-day international by
South Africa bowled the Black
Caps out for 284 in 48.1 overs
to defend their 304-7 total at
Supersport Park, after Hashim
Amla earlier hit 124 in 126 balls for
his 21st one-day century.
Seemingly out of it at 251-8,
Mitchell McClenaghan hit a four
and a big six to bring New Zealand
within range, until he was bowled
by Dale Steyn for 16.
Steyn ended McClenaghan’s late
attack, and effectively the game,
with a full, fast delivery that broke
the off stump in half.
Last man Ish Sodhi was run out
next ball to confirm South Africa’s
victory and a 1-0 lead in the three-
Steyn, Vernon Philander, David
Wiese and Imran Tahir all took
two wickets each for South Africa.
South Africa’s victory, which was
some form of revenge for losing to
New Zealand in the semifinals of
this year ’s World Cup, was set up
by Amla, though.
His innings, with 13 fours and
three sixes, took him level with
Herschelle Gibbs for the most
centuries for South Africa in
ODIs. Amla was supported by 89
from Rilee Rossouw as the pair
put on 185 in their second-wicket
partnership, taking the hosts from
46-1 off 8.4 overs to 231-2 off 41.5
Opener Tom Latham hit 60 for
the Black Caps, and captain Kane
Williamson added 47 for a strong
start. But New Zealand played
some rash shots in the middle order,
when batsmen were set for larger
scores, to surrender the advantage.
Nathan McCullum was out for
10 to a running, diving catch by
Farhaan Behardien on the square
leg boundary. James Neesham
and McClenaghan hit some late
boundaries, but Steyn and then
a run out created by Vernon
Philander finished it off.
The second game is in
Potchefstroom on Sunday.
— New Zealand Herald
The All Blacks are coming.
That was the news at Westport ’s
St Canice’s School yesterday after it
learned it was a winner in the All Blacks
to the Nation competition.
St Canice’s video ‘A Day at St Canice’s,
the All Black Supporters’ School’ was
among eight winners from about 200
entries, principal Peter Knowles said.
“ We knew it was a great video but we
honestly didn’t think we would win. ”
Every class was filmed doing different
activities, including All Black Maths
(with Weetbix and black jelly beans),
baking All Black cakes, singing All
Black songs, learning All Black rugby
skills and reading All Black stories.
“The whole school dressed in black
and performed the school haka as well
as their All Black Jump Jam. ”
Teacher Gemma Wilson had done an
“amazing job” organising the day and
editing the video, Mr Knowles said.
About three All Blacks will visit the
school on September 3, before they leave
to defend the Rugby World Cup.
Mr Knowles said the All Blacks would
fly to Westport and spend most of the
day with the St Canice’s students. They
would probably spend time with other
community organisations as well.
“This is an amazing opportunity for St
Canice’s and the whole community.
“ We are very proud of the video we
entered, but were still very surprised
when we were selected. With the way
things are at moment in our community,
it’s just fantastic that we have something
like this happening. ” — Westport News
PICTURE: Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams, left, coach Sir Gordon Tietjens, newly appointed captain Scott Curr y and Ardie Savea at
the All Blacks Sevens 2015-16 squad announcement at Westpac Stadium, in Wellington yesterday.
SBW’s Olympic dream alive
All Blacks heading to St Canice’s School, Westport
Sydney loss will linger long, says McCaw
PICTURE: Getty Images
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw prepares to push in the scrum against the Wallabies at
ANZ Stadium, in Sydney.
Black Caps fall
short in SA
PICTURE: Getty Images
Black Caps Kane Williamson looks on as South Africa’s Vernon
Philander catches the ball in today’s first ODI match at Super Sport
Rio prospects brighten
PICTURE: NZ Herald
Tall Blacks Thomas Abercrombie
leaps above Boomers Chris Goulding.
Organisers of the Dick Smith NRL
Auckland Nines are confident next year’s
tournament will feature the biggest line-
up of NRL stars yet.
and Kangaroos fullback Billy Slater
and Penrith No 1 Matt Moylan have
earmarked the tournament for their
return from injury to big-time football,
along with Warriors halfback Shaun
The event also presents the chance for
2016 recruits Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and
Issac Luke to make their Warriors debuts.
General public tickets were released
today for the tournament, to be held
at Eden Park over Waitangi weekend
February 6 and 7, with Duco Events
director David Higgins making it clear
he expects the game’s biggest names to
be turning out.
“ We’ve already had players like Billy
Slater and Shaun Johnson put their
hands up,” Higgins said.
“Issac Like and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck
will be a part of the Warriors so
I’d be expecting they would play
if they are fit.
“The feedback we are getting
from coaches and clubs is that
they are coming to win so I’d
expect a very good turnout
of stars and I expect it to be
the best edition yet from that
The ticket release was marked
by a function at Rugby League
Central in Sydney, where
Moylan said he was excited
about the prospect of being part
of the Nines concept.
“Nines is a great way to start
the Rugby League year and I
certainly hope to be a part of it
in 2016,” Moylan said.
“The players certainly enjoy playing that
type of football and it’s obviously great
for the fans, who get to see every team
in the NRL in the same ground on the
Sales were launched at the same time in
Auckland at a Manukau launch attended
by Shaun Johnson, former Kangaroos and
Queensland playmaker Darren Lockyer,
Auckland Mayor Len Brown, NRL
General Manager of Football Operations
Johnson confirmed his intention to
return to action at the tournament once
he has recovered from his season
ending broken ankle suffered
against Manly last month.
“I’m definitely targeting the
Nines,” Johnson said. “I’m hoping
that is going to be my first game
time for 2016. If everything goes
smoothly there is no reason why
I won’t be there.”
Mayor Brown said the
established itself as the sporting
centrepiece of Auckland’s major
events calendar and that success
was set to continue in 2016 and
continues to attract the big name
players and achieve big results
for Auckland, generating more than
$16 million for the Auckland regional
economy in its first two years, and
bringing tens of thousands of people to
Eden Park for a huge weekend of action
and atmosphere,” he said.
— New Zealand Herald
Big names expected at Auckland Nines
PICTURE: Getty Images
Darren Lockyer, left, speaks alongside Shaun Johnson
at the NRL Nines press conference in Auckland today.
Nearly two years on
from one of the greatest
heavyweight fights in
UFC history, Mark Hunt
and Antonio Silva will
finally settle the score.
New Zealand’s Hunt
and ‘Bigfoot ’ Silva battled
to an epic draw over five
rounds during the main
event of UFC Fight
Night 33 in Brisbane in
Their careers have taken
intriguing paths since
that bout and they will
share the octagon again
in the co-main event of
UFC 193 in Melbourne
on November 15.
Hunt (10-10-1) has
mixed his results since
the meeting with Bigfoot,
which left him with a
badly broken hand.
He beat Roy Nelson
(20-11) but dropped
contests to the 20-5 -1
Fabricio Werdum (for the
interim heavyweight title)
and Stipe Miocic (13-2).
— New Zealand Herald
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