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Thursday, March 6, 2014
Sadly it ser ves to highlight what the
NRL will be missing next year, but all
the talk in the lead-up to the season
start tonight is about the titanic clash
between Sonny Bill Williams and
Even among the players.
Williams and Burgess will defect
to rugby union at season’s end to join
fellow superstars Israel Folau and
Benji Marshall in the ranks of the
departed to the 15-man code.
With a comprehensive review of
the salary cap still ongoing the NRL
has promised to aggressively move to
combat such defections, but the reality
is the round-one match between
Williams’ Sydney Roosters and
Burgess’ South Sydney will be one of
the last times these two go head-to-
head in rugby league.
The two regular-season clashes
between the bitter arch-rivals set
crowd and television ratings records
last year, mainly on the back of the
star duo’s pulling power.
Both the Rabbitohs and the
Roosters possess star-studded line-ups
but even the players themselves admit
they are keen to see Williams and
Burgess lock horns again.
“I can’t wait — I get f ront row seats,”
Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner
said yesterday. “He has prepared really
well Sonny. He hasn’t really spoken
about it at all so it might just be
something in the heat of the moment.
He gets about his business every week
the way he does and I suppose that is
why he is so good.
“He is fully prepared every week and
none more so than this week, it is a
huge clash. He has been great Sonny
all pre-season and we are always
trying to work hard as a team but
personally I think he is going to have
another big year.”
While Williams’ return to rugby was
expected, Burgess’s defection shocked
many; especially the Rabbitohs’
Back-rower Ben Te’o believes
Burgess will give everything in his
final year at Redfern to help break
their four decade long premiership
drought, starting against the Roosters.
“Sam, since he has been at this club
has given a good year every year,” Te’o
“ We want a focused Sam Burgess
and I’m sure he is going to give the
fans and this club everything.
“The Roosters are big, we are big,
they are going to be very aggressive
and that is how we want to play. The
for wards battle is going to go a long
way to determining the game.”
Burgess enjoyed a round-one victory
last year over Williams, and the
Rabbitohs over the Roosters.
Williams starred as the Roosters
blew Souths away in the teams’ final
round minor premiership showdown
as the tricolours paved the way for
their 13th premiership.
The Roosters premiership win hurt
Rabbitohs fans almost as much as
their own preliminary final meltdown.
Ahead of the teams’ 109th meeting
in a rivalry that has spanned 107 years,
the Williams-Burgess clash will add
another chapter to the clubs’ enduring
and intertwined histories.
Williams and Burgess do not need
to be reminded of that and they will
do their talking on the field.
“I haven’t really told Sam that much
and he hasn’t really said that much,”
Souths captain John Sutton said.
“He is one of those players that gives
100% every week so I’m expecting a
big year f rom him. I know he will be
putting in everything he can for this
club.” — AAP
A nightmare opening 16 minutes
left the All Whites too big a
mountain to climb as Japan took
out the Kirin Challenge Cup with
a 4-2 victory in what was the
final match played at the National
Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.
Japan netted four goals before the
midway point of the first half before
Leicester City striker Chris Wood
scored a goal in each half.
Led by the sharp movement and
quick feet of Manchester United’s
Shinji Kagawa and A C Milan’s
Keisuke Honda the home side
dominated play in the opening
stages, making the most of the
chances they created.
After narrowly missing a chance
to take the lead in the second
minute via a f ree kick, the All
Whites went behind two minutes
later when Shinji Okazaki profited
from hesitation in the New
Zealand defensive unit to prod past
the advancing Glen Moss.
Three minutes later the lead was
doubled as Kagawa earned and
converted a spot kick and when
Masato Morishige headed in f rom
a f ree kick in the ninth minute the
47,000 fans were enraptured.
Okazaki made it 4-0 seven
minutes later when his shot slipped
through Moss’ grasp.
From that point the young
All Whites side, including two
debutants who shone out in Tyler
Boyd and Ryan Thomas, began to
assert themselves and climb slowly
back into the contest.
Beginning to cultivate their own
periods of possession as the first
half went on, the All Whites were
rewarded initially as Wood made
the most of a difficult position
on the by-line and curled the ball
home f rom a tight angle in the 38th
Wood’s second goal came with 10
minutes remaining in the contest, a
well-taken volley from Tim Payne’s
whipped delivery pulling the All
Whites back to within two goals
and Neil Emblen’s
side could have had
more after several near
The same could be
said of Japan in what
was a fast-paced second
half which saw Hiroshi
Kiyotake hit the post
and Moss make a
stunning save f rom a
Honda f reekick.
Speaking at the post-
match press conference,
interim coach Emblen
said the side’s horrific
start was f rustrating
because it contrasted
so greatly with the
remainder of the game.
“I wish it had started
10 minutes into the
game,” Emblen said.
“ When you make
mistakes and with good
finishing from Japan,
the game was already
“ We haven’t made
Japan earn the goals,
we’ve given them away.
That was disappointing
because after then we
had plenty of chances
of as well. We could
have scored more goals
as well and that was
“For 80 minutes
we were pretty
competitive, scored a
couple of good goals
and put in a good
performance in my
After tweaking the
All Whites shape at half-time,
Emblen felt his side had a much
firmer base in the second half
which helped the young team edge
themselves back into the contest.
We changed to a 4-1-4 -1 and
f rom that point on we did do
better,” Emblen said.
“So I have to look at myself and
maybe say we should have played
that formation first up.
“I didn’t feel that Japan took their
foot off the gas. We just played
better, upped our standard a little
bit and looked a little bit more
organised at that was the biggest
Last night’s game was the last
match at the historic venue in
Tokyo with the stadium set to be
rebuilt ahead of the 2020 Olympic
Games in the city.
— New Zealand Herald
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If Adam Hill gets trampled at the
bottom of a ruck tomorrow night it will
probably seem like a tickle compared to
his former exploits as a bull rider.
The 27-year-old will make his first
start in Super Rugby at blindside flanker
for the Hurricanes against the Brumbies
in Wellington as Mark Hammett ’s side
search for their first win of the season.
Hill is only a wider training group
member with the Hurricanes, but Faifili
Levave’s head knock in last weekend’s
19-18 loss to the Stormers in Cape
Town, coupled with Brad Shields’ knee
injury, meant an opening surfaced.
There is no denying Hill enjoys a bit
of the rough stuff and he spent a couple
of summers riding bulls on the Christmas
circuit down south as a teenager.
“It was a good time with great mates
but she’s hard on the body,” Hill said.
As for his most painful experience, he
offered: “Probably going over the f ront
of a bull and just getting run over is not
After picking up 14 caps for Otago
over a couple of seasons — strictly as an
openside flanker — Hill, who grew up on
a sheep and beef farm in Waikaka, near
Gore, went to Hong Kong during the
2012-2013 summer to play for the DeA
“It was a bit of a mixture,” he said of
After his partner was offered a job in
Wellington, he then relocated to the
capital last year and played for the Lions
in the ITM Cup.
Hammett saw enough of Hill in last
season’s national provincial competition
to believe he was worthy of a wider
training group deal and a spate of injuries
means the former farmer can now give
professional rugby a good shake.
“I’ll go back farming one day,” he said.
“ But I’m going to try every opportunity
at rugby first.”
Hill’s opportunity for tonight arguably
comes at the expense of 20-year-old
Ardie Savea, who was again left on the
bench for the Hurricanes.
Starting openside Jack Lam has been
sensational during the first two games
of the season but Hammett could have
deployed Lam and Savea in a left and
right flanker attack.
Instead he opted for Hill’s workrate
and ability as a lineout jumper given he
“He’s certainly a player that people trust
around him so he gets that opportunity,”
Hill’s first Super Rugby cap came two
weeks ago during the Hurricanes’ 27-9
loss to the Sharks in D urban but after
coming off the bench, he was sent to the
sin bin for a dangerous tackle on Lwazi
Mvovo after only a couple of minutes on
He was not required against the
Stormers last weekend but gets the
chance to redeem himself tomorrow.
Meanwhile, James Marshall gets the
nod at fullback ahead of Marty Banks in
the only other change to the Hurricanes’
starting XV from last week.
James Marshall, Cory
Jane, Conrad Smith (captain), Hadleigh
Parkes, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett,
TJ Perenara, Blade Thomson, Jack Lam,
Adam Hill, Mark Reddish, Jeremy
Thrush, John Schwalger, Dane Coles,
Ben Franks. Reser ves: Motu Matu’u,
Chris Eves, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen,
James Broadhurst, Ardie Savea, Chris
Smylie, Alapati Leiua, Marty Banks.
Bull rider grabs chance by horns
Horror start costly
PICTURE: Getty Images
New Zealand for ward Chris Wood, left, scores a goal against Japan’s goalkeeper
Eiji Kawashima and defender Masato Morishige in last night’s encounter at the
National Stadium in Tokyo.
Sonny Bill, Burgess
to set season alight
Rabbits Sam Burgess pushes Roosters Sonny Bill Williams aside in their
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