Tag Archives: chris

Australia announce Ashes squad: Brad Haddin recalled as Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus miss out

Veteran Haddin recalled as Australia announce 16-man squad heading to England in bid to win back the Ashes

PUBLISHED:

02:22 GMT, 24 April 2013

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UPDATED:

02:30 GMT, 24 April 2013

Wicketkeeper Brad Haddin has been named as Australia vice-captain for the upcoming Ashes series in England.

The 35-year-old replaces Shane Watson, who stepped down as Michael Clarke's deputy after the troubled tour on India but remains part of the 16-man squad.

National selector John Inverarity said: 'We feel it's important to have a senior, seasoned player support Michael at this time.

Return the Urn: Michael Clarke (centre), Steve Waugh (left) and Mark Taylor before today's squad unveiling

Return the Urn: Michael Clarke (centre), Steve Waugh (left) and Mark Taylor before today's squad unveiling

Key dates

June 26-29: v Somerset

July 2-5: v Worcs

July 10-14: 1st Test, Trent Bridge

July 18-22: 2nd Test, Lord's

July 26-28: v Sussex

August 1-5: 3rd Test, Old Trafford

August 9-13: 4th Test, Durham

August 16-17: v Northants

August 21-25: 5th Test, The Oval

'When Shane Watson advised of his
decision to stand down, the NSP (national selection panel) viewed Brad
as the exceptional candidate to step into this leadership void.'

Matthew Wade, who has been Australia's first-choice wicketkeeper of late, will also travel to England.

'Matthew Wade is a very good cricketer and remains central to our plans for the future,' Inverarity added.

Left-arm seamer James Faulkner is the only uncapped player to be named, with Mitchell Johnson missing out.

Chris Rogers, the 35-year-old batsman
who has just one Test cap to his name, also makes the squad and seamer
Ryan Harris returns.

'Chris Rogers is a hardened
first-class cricketer and has been given a deserved opportunity on the
back of sustained run-scoring in both Australia and England over many
seasons,' said Inverarity.

Eyes on the prize: Brad Haddin has been recalled to the Australia squad to tour England this summer

Eyes on the prize: Brad Haddin has been recalled to the Australia squad to tour England this summer

'James Faulkner has also been given
an opportunity after impressing in recent months as an all-rounder. His
performance in last month's Bupa Sheffield Shield final was compelling
and he has now produced three consistently good seasons with the ball at
Shield level for Tasmania.

'He is a player who is seldom out of the game for long. He takes wickets, forms partnerships and makes valuable runs.

'Ryan Harris has regained fitness and
it is great to have such a very highly regarded and well-performed pace
bowler back in the mix.'

Fawad Ahmed, the Pakistan-born
leg-spinner who has not yet received his Australian passport, has not
been included, leaving Nathan Lyon as the only spinner in the 16.

Ahmed also misses out on the 14-man
Australia A squad to tour the British Isles ahead of the Ashes, which
contains a number of players from the senior squad including Haddin, who
will captain the side, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Harris, Jackson
Bird and Nathan Lyon.

Steven Smith, who misses out on a
place in the Ashes squad despite some creditable performances in India,
is vice-captain of the A side.

Smith is one of five men to drop out
from the India squad – along with Johnson, Moises Henriques, Xavier
Doherty and Glenn Maxwell – which slipped to a 4-0 series defeat amid
high-profile problems with discipline.

Revenge: England were convincing 3-1 series winners in the 2010-11 series

Revenge: England were convincing 3-1 series winners in the 2010-11 series

Inverarity added: 'The tour to India was very demanding and a learning experience for all.

'The result was unacceptable and the
players, coaches, support staff and NSP are smarting from those
performances and are galvanised to ensure that we play tough,
competitive cricket throughout the Ashes.'

The first Ashes Test begins at Trent
Bridge on July 10, with two tour matches before that, while Australia A
will take on Scotland, Ireland and Gloucestershire, with the first match
getting under way in Edinburgh on June 7.

Lawrence Booth, Sportsmail cricket writer and editor of Wisden, gives a run down on the Australian squad heading to England for the Ashes series this summer

Michael Clarke

MICHAEL CLARKE (c)
AGE: 32
CAPS: 92
VERDICT: World cricket's in-form batsman in 2012, the captain will need to score three hundreds to give Australia a chance.

Brad Haddin

BRAD HADDIN (vc)
AGE: 35
CAPS: 44
VERDICT: Ousted by Wade behind the stumps, he's a spiky character who England would rather not have to deal with.

JACKSON BIRD

JACKSON BIRD
AGE: 26
CAPS: 2
VERDICT: Seam bowler who is not particularly fast but his ability to swing the ball both ways has proven very successful in domestic cricket.

Ed Cowan

ED COWAN
AGE: 30
CAPS: 17
VERDICT: Steady, cerebral left-handed opener, but unlikely to frighten the England attack.

Phillip Hughes

PHILLIP HUGHES
AGE: 24
CAPS: 24
VERDICT: England have exploited his vulnerability outside off stump in the past – expect more of the same, plus a peppering of short stuff.

David Warner

DAVID WARNER
AGE: 26
CAPS: 19
VERDICT: Another left-handed opener, he has the potential to destroy the opposition, but inconsistent at Test level. Jimmy Anderson will fancy swinging the ball into him.

Urn the victory: Former England captain Andrew Strauss led Eng;and to victory in the last series

Urn the victory: Former England captain Andrew Strauss led Eng;and to victory in the last series

James Faulkner

JAMES FAULKNER
AGE: 22
CAPS: 0
VERDICT: A left-arm seamer and hard-hitting batsman, the 22-year-old Faulkner is an outsider for a Test spot – but look out for him in the shorter stuff.

USMAN

USMAN KHAWAJA
AGE: 26
CAPS: 6
VERDICT: Left-handed top order batsman who was one of the four players dropped ahead of the third Test in India following a breach of discipline.

Shane Watson

SHANE WATSON
AGE: 31
CAPS: 41
VERDICT: Averaging only 25 since the start of 2011, he needs a big series to prove he was right to quit the vice-captaincy. Could do with bowling too.

Matthew Wade

MATTHEW WADE
AGE: 25
CAPS: 12
VERDICT: His batting can be punchy, but his glovework is shaky. And he's a place too high at No 6.

Nathan Lyon

NATHAN LYON
AGE: 25
CAPS: 22
VERDICT: Australia's first-choice spinner is tidy but unthreatening, and his confidence was knocked recently when he was dropped in India.

Ryan Harris

RYAN HARRIS
AGE: 33
CAPS: 12
VERDICT: Fast and hostile, as he showed when England lost at Perth in 2010-11. Only trouble is, he's rarely fit.

Home of cricket: The first Test in the five match series will take place at Lord's in north London

Home of cricket: The first Test in the five match series will take place at Lord's in north London

cHRIS rOGERS

CHRIS ROGERS
AGE: 35
CAPS: 1
VERDICT: Another left handed top order batsman whose one and only cap came against India in 2008. Played country cricket so is used to English conditions.

James Pattinson

JAMES PATTINSON
AGE: 22
CAPS: 10
VERDICT: Young, hungry, angry and highly talented. He will be the bowler England's batsmen fear most.

Rain on their parade: The Aussies will be hoping they have their own reasons to celebrate on English soil

Rain on their parade: The Aussies will be hoping they have their own Sprinkler Dance on English soil

Peter Siddle

PETER SIDDLE
AGE: 28
CAPS: 41
VERDICT: The workhorse of Australia's seam attack, he has improved hugely over the last year. But will he be bowled into the ground

Mitchell Starc

MITCHELL STARC
AGE: 23
CAPS: 9
VERDICT: Tall left-arm seamer who could be Australia's best chance of keeping Alastair Cook quiet. Can bat a bit too.

Masters 2013: Jamie Donaldson shoots hole-in-one on sixth hole

Xbox practice pays off as Welshman Donaldson hits hole-in-one on debut

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

17:50 GMT, 11 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

23:07 GMT, 11 April 2013

MASTERS ESSENTIALS
Follow live action from day one hereHole-by-hole guide to Augusta National
Full list of tee timesFull preview: Tiger must wake up and smell the azaleas: he'll need his driver to win a fifth Green Jacket this weekVIDEO: greatest shots in Masters historyAll the latest news from Augusta

Welshman Jamie Donaldson made a flying start to his first Masters with a sensational hole-in-one on the sixth hole at Augusta.

The 37-year-old was one over par by the time he reached the 180-yard, par-three sixth before his amazing shot on the hole known as Juniper.

He became the fifth golfer record a hole-in-one on the sixth, the first since Chris DiMarco in 2004.

Donaldson's shot was the 24th ace in Masters history after Bo Van Pelt and Adam Scott made holes-in-one on No 16 last year.

Delight: Jamie Donaldson celebrates his hole-in-one as Martin Laird watches on

Delight: Jamie Donaldson celebrates his hole-in-one as Martin Laird watches on

High five: The Welshman celebrates with his caddie

High five: The Welshman celebrates with his caddie

All smiles: Donaldson waves to spectators after his hole-in-one on the sixth

All smiles: Donaldson waves to spectators after his hole-in-one on the sixth

Modest: Donaldson was one over through five

Modest: Donaldson was one over through five

Appreciation: Donaldson raises his cap

Appreciation: Donaldson raises his cap

The Welshman, who was priced at 300-1 before the tournament, prepared for his first trip down Magnolia Lane by playing on his Xbox.

Donaldson won the Abu Dhabi
Championship in January, his first victory on the European Tour.

Elsewhere, Englishman David Lynn was the early leader in the clubhouse thanks to an opening round of 68.

Playing only the third major of his career after securing his place by finishing second to Rory McIlroy at the US PGA Championship last year, Lynn carded a four-under-par 68 in the first round at Augusta National.

The 39-year-old from Stoke, who has just one win in almost 400 European Tour events, carded six birdies and two bogeys during his round on Thursday.

Follow Sportsmail's live coverage from day one at Augusta HERE.

Millwall 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2 – match report – Chris Maguire scores in stoppage time

Millwall 1 Sheffield Wednesday 2: Lions tamed at the last as Maguire eases Owls relegation fears

PUBLISHED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:08 GMT, 9 April 2013

Chris Maguire grabbed a last-gasp winner to fire Sheffield Wednesday away from the drop zone and send Millwall to Wembley on the back of a defeat.

The Lions, who face Wigan in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday, got off to the perfect start when Jimmy Abdou scored after just 63 seconds.

But Wednesday equalised through Miguel Llera's free-kick before the interval, and substitute Maguire struck in stoppage time as the Owls moved six points clear of the bottom three.

Twit-too: Chris Maguire struck late on to seal all three points for Sheffield Wednesday at Millwall

Twit-too: Chris Maguire struck late on to seal all three points for Sheffield Wednesday at Millwall

Twit-too: Chris Maguire struck late on to seal all three points for Sheffield Wednesday at Millwall

MATCH FACTS

MILWALL: Forde, Dunne, Shittu, Beevers, Lowry, Chris Taylor, Abdou, St. Ledger, Saville, Easter, Hulse. Subs: Maik Taylor, Batt, Henry, Woolford, Keogh, Jack Smith, Adam Smith.

SHEFF WED: Kirkland, Buxton, Gardner, Llera, Pugh, Lee, Olofinjana, Prutton, Helan, Lita, Howard. Subs: Bywater, Taylor, Semedo, Maguire, Jermaine Johnson, Mattock, McCabe.

Referee: Phil Gibbs (West Midlands)

Latest Championship results, fixtures and table

It brought an end to Millwall's three-game unbeaten run and means they are not out of the woods themselves yet.

But for the time being they can focus on Wigan and potentially 90 minutes from a place in Europe.

They are unlikely to find the Latics as charitable as Wednesday, who conceded the opener with the first attack of the match.

Chris Taylor was allowed to cut in
from the left wing, charge into the penalty area unchallenged and
deliver a low cross for the unmarked Abdou to bundle home at the far
post.

It was recalled midfielder Abdou's
first home goal for the Lions, five years since he joined, and the
perfect way to stake his claim for a Wembley appearance.

Millwall were certainly not playing like a team with their minds elsewhere, though, and continued to bombard Wednesday's goal.

Rob Hulse burst into the area but could not get round Owls keeper Chris Kirkland, and Shane Lowry fired narrowly wide.

Bright start: The hosts took the lead after just 63 seconds through Jimmy Abdou

Bright start: The hosts took the lead after just 63 seconds through Jimmy Abdou

Hat trick: Miguel Llera got the Owls back on track before half-time with a cute free-kick

Hat trick: Miguel Llera got the Owls back on track before half-time with a cute free-kick

Latest Championship table

Wednesday had barely threatened in the
opening half hour, apart from a close-range effort from Steve Howard
which was well saved by David Forde.

But five minutes before half-time they drew level through Llera, who curled a 25-yard free-kick around the wall.

Forde appeared to have the shot covered, but the ball bounced in front of him, over his hands and into the net.

Taylor could have put Millwall back
into the lead on the stroke of half-time but his backheel from Lowry's
cross flew straight at Kirkland.

The Lions had a let-off moments after
the interval when a half-cleared corner fell to David Prutton on the
edge of the area and his shot was cleared off the line by Lowry.

Both sides had chances late on with
Jermaine Easter firing wide and Kirkland denying Taylor and Sean St
Ledger with fine saves, while referee Phillip Gibbs waved away some
strong Millwall penalty appeals after Seyi Olofinjana appeared to
handle.

Wednesday sub Jermaine Johnson should have put the visitors ahead 10 minutes from time but fizzed his shot narrowly wide.

However, the winner came deep into
four minutes of stoppage time when Maguire hooked in Danny Pugh's corner
to seal a valuable three points.

Heineken Cup quarter-final previews 2013

Your weekend guide to the Heineken Cup: Three English sides in the last eight

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Harlequins, Saracens and Leicester will be flying the flag for the Aviva Premiership in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals this weekend.

Here, Sportsmail tells you everything you need to know ahead of one of the most eagerly anticipated weekend's of the season…

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Flying the flag: Manu Tuilagi starts for Leicester against Toulon

Clermont Auvergne v Montpellier

(Saturday: Stade Marcel Micheli, 3.40pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Clermont are favourites to extend a run of 58 successive home wins. Wales’ Lee Byrne and Scotland’s Nathan Hines face Scot Johnnie Beattie.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Harlequins v Munster

(Sunday: The Stoop, 2pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

England captain Chris Robshaw returns for Quins’ bid for a first semi-final. Munster are boosted by return of lock Paul O’Connell and wing Simon Zebo.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Home tie: Owen Farrell is in the Saracens side to face Munster at Twickenham

Saracens v Ulster

(Saturday: Twickenham, 6.30pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Saracens opt for fly-half Owen Farrell over Charlie Hodgson. They also recall Scotland flanker Kelly Brown. Ulster welcome prop John Afoa.

PREDICTION: Home win.

Toulon v Leicester

(Sunday: Stade Felix Mayol, 4.30pm, live on Sky Sports 2)

Leicester name same starters for third week running. Toby Flood faces former Newcastle colleague in Jonny Wilkinson. Prop Andrew Sheridan starts.

PREDICTION: Away win.

Amlin Challenge Cup — quarter-final

Bath v Stade Francais

(Saturday: The Rec, 1pm, live on Sky Sports 1)

Bath move Horacio Agulla to centre for Matt Banahan. Nick Abendanon returns on wing. Italy captain Sergio Parisse is in a Stade team alongside ex-Wallaby flanker David Lyons.

PREDICTION: Away win.

Harlequins captain Chris Robshaw ready for Munster Heineken Cup quarter-final

Robshaw revved up and ready to go as Quins prepare for Munster clash

By
Chris Foy

PUBLISHED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 5 April 2013

Raring to go: Quins and England captain Robshaw

Raring to go: Quins and England captain Robshaw

For England captain Chris Robshaw, watching football this week brought home just what a high-stakes occasion awaits Harlequins against mighty Munster on Sunday.

It is only the third time the London club have made it to the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup; their skipper is well aware of the import. ‘It is what you want to be part of, a Heineken Cup quarter-final,’ he said. ‘I was watching the Champions League and thinking, “That’s the level we are at in rugby”.’

With the LV Cup won, Quins remain on course for a historic Treble and Robshaw is bracing himself for the business end of the season, when every team will be hell-bent on denying the Premiership champions their target.

‘Since week one, we have been hunted, the team everyone raises their game for,’ he said. ‘It is an incredibly big challenge but you would not swap it for the world. These next eight weeks are the eight weeks you want. It could be nothing, it could be all.’

Lying in wait: Munster train in Cork this week ahead of their visit to London

Lying in wait: Munster train in Cork this week ahead of their visit to London

Munster come to the Stoop after a 51-24 mauling in Glasgow, but Quins expect the Irish province to be in full, fiery European mode.

England lock George Robson said: ‘Anyone who reads anything into their league results is missing a trick in terms of what the Cup means to the province. It is what they live for.’

Ronan O’Gara, the Munster fly-half, is, at 37, the only survivor from Quins’ 48-40 win in 1997. A repeat of that score may be unthinkable, but a home win by a similar margin is certainly not.

Chris Ashton backed by Saracens coach Paul Gustard

Ashton backed by Saracens coach Gustard after poor Six Nations

By
Rob Wildman

PUBLISHED:

21:49 GMT, 2 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

07:14 GMT, 3 April 2013

Chris Ashton, the under-fire England wing, has received the backing of Saracens defence coach Paul Gustard.

The club head into Saturday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Ulster at Twickenham believing Ashton is in excellent form despite his poor Six Nations campaign that led to an inquest into his tackling.

Ashton scored his first try in almost two months last Saturday, against Wasps, and Gustard expects more in the Heineken Cup.

Out of sorts: Ashton scored just one try in the Six Nations

Out of sorts: Ashton scored just one try in the Six Nations

Jumping for joy: Chris Ashton celebrates after scoring against Wasps

Jumping for joy: Ashton celebrates after scoring against Wasps last weekend

‘Even if Chris had not scored a try, it does not mean he’s not played well,’ Gustard said. ‘He’s done really, really well for us in the last two weeks and is in a good place after a good show at Wasps.

The problem of being a wing in rugby is that it’s a bit like being a goalkeeper in football. You are the last line in defence; a mistake can cost you.

‘Chris is not a bad defender. Sometimes, he misses a tackle but so what Everyone misses a tackle,’ Gustard added.

On the run: Ashton charges upfield playing for Saracens

On the run: Ashton charges upfield playing for Saracens

He could also be Ashton’s coach on England’s summer tour of Argentina if he does not make the Lions trip to Australia.

Gustard is taking over temporarily because Andy Farrell will help coach the Lions with Warren Gatland.

‘I’m not going to change the way England defend,’ he said. ‘The system has worked well over the last season. It’s a matter of learning and developing as a coach.’

Michael Appleton sacked by Blackburn

Appleton sacked by Blackburn after just two months in charge as Rovers look for their FOURTH manager of the season

By
John Drayton

PUBLISHED:

11:24 GMT, 19 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

12:10 GMT, 19 March 2013

Blackburn have sacked Michael Appleton after just over two months in charge at Ewood Park.

Rovers have made the decision to wield the axe on a third manager this season following Sunday's 1-1 draw with local rivals Burnley and last week's FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Millwall.

A statement read: 'Blackburn Rovers FC can confirm that Michael Appleton has been relieved of his duties as manager along with assistant manager Ashley Westwood, first team coach Darren Moore and head of senior recruitment Luke Dowling.'

Sacked: Michael Appleton has left Blackburn after just two months

Sacked: Michael Appleton has left Blackburn after just two months

ROVERS MANAGER RECORDS

Michael Appleton
P15 W6 L6 D5

Henning Berg
P10 W1 L3 D6

Steve Kean
P8 W4 L2 D2

The club, without a win in eight games in all competitions, are 18th in the npower Championship table and just four points above the relegation zone.

Appleton left Blackpool to join Blackburn in the new year after just 65 days in charge at Bloomfield Road.

During 67 days in the Rovers job, Appleton won four, drew five and lost six of his 15 matches in charge.

It means that if Blackburn get another manager they will have had same number this season as Manchester United have had since 1972.

The goings on at Ewood Park this season are a far cry from the side that lifted the Premier League trophy in 1995 with Kenny Dalglish in charge and Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton playing up front.

Cut short: Appleton played for Preston but retired early due to injury

Cut short: Appleton played for Preston but retired early due to injury

Going global: Blackburn's global advisor Shebby Singh

Going global: Blackburn's global advisor Shebby Singh

Bottom of the Championship table

Bottom of the Championship table

Sir Clive Woodward: England must use intimidation as inspiration

England must use intimidation as inspiration in the cauldron of the Millennium Stadium

PUBLISHED:

22:49 GMT, 15 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

08:13 GMT, 16 March 2013

The Millennium Stadium is a unique
ground. Sitting bang in the middle of the city of Cardiff, the stadium
feels like the beating heart of Wales on match days.

There are few venues around the world
where supporters can finish their pints with five minutes to spare,
pour out of the pubs and take their seats in time for kick-off.

As a coach, when you have said your
final few words to the team in the relative peace of the dressing room
and walk out to hear the crowd singing under that roof, it can feel like
you are emerging into the Colosseum in Rome.

Not intimidated: Chris Ashton dives over to score at the Millennium Stadium in 2011 when England beat Wales 26-19

Not intimidated: Chris Ashton dives over to score at the Millennium Stadium in 2011 when England beat Wales 26-19

More from Sir Clive Woodward…

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: It's time to pile on the pressure and use Cardiff cauldron to test mettle of England's players
14/03/13

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: 2013 v 2003 – how my Grand Slam heroes compare to today’s side gunning for Six Nations glory
14/03/13

EXCLUSIVE: Sir Clive Woodward talks Grand Slams with George North… Training has been brutal and we're ready to do battle
13/03/13

Sir Clive Woodward: This is the last England game for six months with everyone available and Ashton has a point to prove
11/03/13

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: It's time for England to wake up and smell the roses
10/03/13

Sir Clive Woodward: England must fear the Italians if they are to prevent the biggest Six Nations shock ever
08/03/13

Sir Clive Woodward: Just like no-nonsense Johnno, Robshaw is a natural born leader
07/03/13

Sir Clive Woodward: Ranting Rafa He's far too shrewd for that
28/02/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Stuart Lancaster and his players will
sense that fever with a welcome like no other. Despite the fierce
rivalry, you get better looked after in Wales than anywhere else – they
want to thrash you, but they want it to be a fair fight.

There are no silly games – nobody rushes you off the pitch or limits the number of balls you have for the warm-up.

Hostility is manifest in the passionate support, not stupid mind games.

In 2001, when I took England to
Wales for our first ever match at the Millennium Stadium, I decided we
should stay in Cardiff Bay because I wanted to be near town and a part
of the build-up, not stuck on the outskirts and excluded from the buzz.

You want to be in the thick of it so you're not overwhelmed when you come in on match day, particularly for a 5pm kick-off.

From the Monday morning of the build-up to that Test almost every press conference question was about the stadium.

'Intimidation' was clearly the theme but I made it clear that we were playing the Welsh team, not the stadium. I held a meeting that night and told the players to turn the word 'intimidation' into 'inspiration'.

Players prepare in different ways. Hooker Steve Thompson, for example, braced himself for the Cardiff cacophony by practising his lineout throwing with white noise blasting through his headphones. It paid off as on the day his set-piece was as accurate as ever.

The players had never been inside the ground until we were given a tour of the stadium the day before the game.

Time to shine: Ben Youngs goes through the motions under the Millennium Stadium roof

Time to shine: Ben Youngs goes through the motions under the Millennium Stadium roof

Ready for battle: Manu Tuilagi passes the ball during the England captain's run at the Millennium Stadium

Ready for battle: Manu Tuilagi passes the ball during the England captain's run at the Millennium Stadium

One game from glory: Stuart Lancaster hopes England can win their final game of the Six Nations and secure the Grand Slam

One game from glory: Stuart Lancaster hopes England can win their final game of the Six Nations and secure the Grand Slam

RBS 6 NATIONS TITLE – PERMUTATIONS

England's victory over Italy means a win against Wales in Cardiff would seal a first Grand Slam in a decade.

However, Wales have everything to play for because a victory for them could be enough to retain the RBS 6 Nations title and leave England empty-handed.

England are currently two points ahead of Wales in the table and with a points-difference advantage of 14.

Under tournament rules, if the points and points difference end level then the championship would be decided on tries scored.

Wales hold the advantage 7-5 going into the final round. If tries scored is also level, the title is shared.

Here, we examine the permutations:

ENGLAND WIN GRAND SLAM

An England victory by any margin would secure a first Grand Slam triumph in a decade.

ENGLAND WIN TITLE

An England defeat by six points or fewer would still be enough to seal the title.

If England lose by seven points but outscore Wales by three tries or more then Stuart Lancaster's men would win the title.

WALES WIN TITLE

A Wales victory by seven points, providing they stay ahead of England on tournament tries, would see Rob Howley's men retain the title.

TITLE SHARED

If Wales win by seven points but England score two more tries then the title would be shared.

I wanted my team, particularly the back three, to get used to catching high balls under the lights and watching the flight of balls against the closed roof.

We walked into the away dressing room to find giant cardboard cutouts of the entire Welsh team – bigger than life size.

You've never heard such laughter in your life. It turned out they were there for tourists as part of the stadium tour, but the stadium officials had genuinely forgotten to move them.

The facilities in the stadium are second to none.

The away dressing room is big and spacious, unlike at Murrayfield where there is a giant pillar in the middle.

When we arrived on match day, I walked on to the pitch with Martin Johnson and we were booed by the supporters.

Johnno walked into the centre of the pitch and held his hands in the air – making it very clear this was exactly where he wanted to be.

The home and away dressing rooms are about 50 metres apart in a long corridor, so you are kept well away from your opponents.

While football players tend to hang out in the tunnel before coming out together that doesn't happen in rugby.

You come out separately – England to subdued cheers, Wales to pyrotechnics, blasting music and booming choirs.

The first time you see your opponents is when you line up for the anthems. It is all part of the magic.

One of the few things I miss from my coaching days is the dressing-room atmosphere on days like today.

It is the most electric place in the world with 20 minutes to go before
kickoff – a mix of adrenaline, fear and anticipation.

Ten players in
Lancaster's starting XV have never experienced that atmosphere and I
hope they are inspired, not intimidated.

Real champions thrive in enemy
territory. The dressing room against Wales was always noisier than at
home. Guys such as Lawrence Dallaglio, Will Greenwood and Matt Dawson
would come into their own.

All white on the night: Steve Thompson prepared by blasting white noise into his headphones

All white on the night: Steve Thompson prepared by blasting white noise into his headphones

Glorying in the rivalry: Martin Johnston was never one to be intimidated

Glorying in the rivalry: Martin Johnston was never one to be intimidated

Glorying in the rivalry: Martin Johnston was never one to be intimidated

I expect Brad Barritt, Owen Farrell, Tom
Youngs and Geoff Parling to do the same, supporting captain Chris
Robshaw to deliver the final key messages and get everybody focused on
kick-off.

We won comfortably on that first trip – but that doesn't mean it wasn't a dramatic day.

After
the game we returned to the hotel to change for the post-match dinner
but travelling back to the stadium was a nightmare.

A
lot of supporters had been drinking all day and we were stuck in a sea
of red shirts, crawling through the crowds at three or four mph with a
giant red rose on the side of the coach.

Man alive: Lawrence Dallaglio came into his own in the dressing room

Man alive: Lawrence Dallaglio came into his own in the dressing room

I had a superstition and would sit front left in the coach. A man in the crowds caught my eye because he had obviously had a big day out but was running straight towards us as if he was planning to tackle the coach.

At the last minute, he sidestepped to his right in Gerald Davies-style but was promptly knocked out cold by the large wing mirror.

I stopped the coach and got out, followed by a few players and our doctor, who rushed to help while we radioed for the police.

Suddenly I realised there was me and most of the England team in the middle of a crowd of drunk fans standing over a prostrate Welshman. It looked like we had run him over!

People started pointing fingers and it all got a little tense.

Then a crowd of equally well-oiled England fans pushed their way to the front and it really started to get a bit tasty. The police arrived just in time and sense prevailed.

That was more than 10 years ago, when England had a far stronger team than Wales.

Since then, Wales have become something of a nation of experts in this tournament – to win three Grand Slams in the last eight years is an amazing achievement.

I had a great team and we only did it once. But Lancaster's team are winners and I believe they will be inspired by playing in Cardiff.

They have only ever been beaten by single figures so this game will be close.

If England keep their cool in the Cardiff cauldron, they are good enough to win.

I truly hope they do. It is time a new generation of Englishmen stepped up to the plate and won the Grand Slam.

MY SIX KEY BATTLE AREAS…

1. KEEP COOL IN THE CAULDRON

Show respect: Referee Steve Walsh (left) has a chat with France captain Thierry Dusautoir

Show respect: Referee Steve Walsh (left) has a chat with France captain Thierry Dusautoir

This England team have an abundance of testosterone flowing through them and Wales will target the players who have a history of reacting.

Joe Marler, Owen Farrell, Chris Ashton and Mike Brown have had their moments and this can be a good thing – the 2003 team were at their best when there was a bit of sulphur in the air.

But you have to tread the line between never taking a step backwards and not getting distracted or involved in anything that puts you or your team-mates off their game.

England have recieved two yellow cards in this tournament, another today could cost them the Grand Slam. Let the score do the talking and silence the crowd.

The message from Stuart Lancaster must be about finding the crucial balance – you have to compete for the ball at the breakdown, but needless penalties will kill your team.

Referee Steve Walsh was extremely strict at the contact zone in Dublin last weekend.

Listen to him, repeat his calls, react and adapt to how he is marshalling that breakdown.

If he starts penalising the tackler for not rolling away, then make a show of releasing the player early and doing what he asks.

Be smart – get the wrong side of Walsh and you're in trouble.

2. GO FORWARD BEFORE YOU GO WIDE

England have not scored a try against Wales for 196 minutes but it will be almost impossible for them to win without doing so in a game as tight as this, so they must sort out their attacking strategies.

The ambition was there against Italy, the failure was in execution.

There is no point passing the ball out wide if the opposition have more defenders in the line than you have attackers, as was often the case against Italy.

Please release me: Ben Youngs will be key to getting the ball out wide

Please release me: Ben Youngs will be key to getting the ball out wide

Use the early phases to charge directly forward and suck more defenders into the ruck and the narrow channels.

Then, when there is space out wide, release the ball.

Ben Youngs has to lead this, ordering the forwards to use their firepower and go 'route one' very early in the game.

3. OPTIONS ARE KEY TO ATTACK

Talisman Owen Farrell returns and England will take confidence in having their best half-back pairing in the spine of the side, but full back Alex Goode is key to offering a second option in attack.

The clash of the centres will be monstrous in midfield but I hope Brad Barritt and Manu Tuilagi have the confidence not just to run into contact but to pass the ball before contact.

Use Tuilagi as a decoy and out-think the Welsh. This is where Goode is key.

Goode idea: Alex Goode can be used to out-think Wales

Goode idea: Alex Goode can be used to out-think Wales

He has gone quiet in games, so he needs to come into the attack as a second receiver to create plays and get the side playing more expansively.

Barritt and Tuilagi can become a great pairing but they need Goode to give Farrell more options in the inside centre role.

4. IT'S A MISTAKE TO FOCUS ONLY ON THE DANGERMEN

Alex Cuthbert and George North are giant dangers on the wing – I couldn't believe just how big George was when I met him!

He is such an intelligent player, too, so Chris Ashton has his work cut out. Both wingers come looking for crash balls either inside or outside the fly-half.

But Wales' back line have the footballing ability to miss the winger out and if England focus on one player they can get caught out.

England just need to keep their defensive shape. If the big guys come at you hard it is about technique – hit them hard and low.

North star: Wales winger George North could cause all sorts of problems for England

North star: Wales winger George North could cause all sorts of problems for England

If your technique is sloppy – and England have been guilty of going in too high recently – then you will look stupid.

I expect a big step up in England's tackling today, Ashton included.

Both defensive coaches, Andy Farrell and Shaun Edwards, have brought huge rugby league influences into these sides.

League is fundamentally a simpler game with a bigger emphasis on defence, especially the blitz defence where players rush up and 'get in the face' of attackers.

Wales have gone 277 minutes without conceding a try (they could beat my team's tournament record of 319 minutes).

The challenge is keeping your shape when your lungs are burning and your brain is starved of oxygen.

This game will be won in the last 10 minutes and that is when the fitness of these two teams will be tested.

Power play: Stopping Sam Warburton in his tracks will be one of England's big challenges

Power play: Stopping Sam Warburton
in his tracks will be one of England's big
challenges

5. TARGET WARBURTON

It is less than 100 days to the first Lions Test and the backrow battle will be fascinating – but the turnover contest is not a question of Chris Robshaw v Sam Warburton.

Whichever England player arrives at the breakdown first has to target Warburton. Against a player of his strength, you have to decide – attack the ball or attack him.

You need to try to get him off the ball before he sets up in that 'crouched jackal' position over it.

Once he is set up, you won't be able to move him, so hit him as early as you can within the laws of the game.

6. GET THE BALL IN AND OUT OF THE SCRUM

The bigger the game, the bigger the basics. Basics are the scrum, the lineout and the restart.

For all the attacking flair in these teams out wide, if you do not nail those three foundations then you cannot create real momentum.

In the front row, Joe Marler and Dan Cole must deal with Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins, who have been the cornerstone of Wales' three Grand Slams, so England have to be clever.

The stadium turf has a tendency to cut up so you want to get the ball in, out and away.

Win the engagement and use the scrum as a platform to restart your attack quickly.

If you leave the ball in and the scrum collapses you give the referee an opportunity to penalise you.

At restarts, England must be aware of the aerial threat of North and Cuthbert, who can out-jump forwards. Do not let them get to the ball first.

Joe Allen wants shoulder surgery out of the way to return fully fit for Liverpool next season

No more stalling! Allen wants shoulder operation out of the way to help drive Liverpool forward next season

By
Simon Stone, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

18:42 GMT, 12 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

19:17 GMT, 12 March 2013

Joe Allen is keen to get his shoulder operation done with so he can be fully fit for the start of next season.

The midfielder will be in Chris Coleman's Wales squad for the World Cup qualifiers with Scotland and Croatia when it is unveiled tomorrow.

However, the Liverpool man is facing an extended period on the sidelines at some point after discovering a recurrence of an old shoulder injury had deteriorated to the point where further surgery is required.

Open door: Liverpool's Joe Allen, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season, at the Astra production line today

Open door: Liverpool's Joe Allen,who is already looking forward the new season, at the Astra production line today

Speaking on a tour of the Ellesmere Port car plant of Wales team sponsors Vauxhall, Allen said: “It is something that needs sorting out.

'I had an operation a few years ago and unfortunately it is a recurrence.

'It has slowly deteriorated to the point where an operation is the only thing that can solve it.'

Liverpool will decide when Allen has surgery, which the 22-year-old estimates will keep him out for three months.

'I can play on, but it is all about the timing because I will be out for three months,” he said.

'Obviously, I don't want to miss the start of next season if I can but we will see what the club have planned because it is a reasonably long lay-off.'

With the Reds back in the running for a European place following Sunday's victory over Tottenham, Brendan Rodgers might be loath to lose Allen at this stage.

Injury: Brendan Rodgers confirmed that midfielder Joe Allen will undergo surgery

Injury: Brendan Rodgers today confirmed that midfielder Joe Allen will undergo surgery

Equally, the former Swansea man would benefit from a full pre-season at Anfield, given he did not join the Merseyside giants until after his Olympic commitments with Team GB.

And next week he will be fully focused on Wales anyway, as they look to build on an encouraging win over Austria last month by completing a World Cup double over Scotland on Friday.

That initial victory over the Scots in October effectively signalled the end of Craig Levein's reign.

It also marked the climax of a tortuous period for new Wales boss Chris Coleman, who had struggled to maintain the improvements made under Gary Speed.'These things take time,' said Allen.

'It was a difficult period for everyone in Welsh football but recent performances and results show we are moving in the right direction.

Shoulder-to-shoulder: Joe Allen came on as a sub against Tottenham on Sunday, where he came up against Wales international colleague Gareth Bale

Shoulder-to-shoulder: Joe Allen came up against Wales international colleague Gareth Bale on Saturday

'We have always had the talent and ability that's for sure.

'Now we are getting to the stage where we are benefiting from past experiences and we are ready to take it to the next level.'

Joe Allen was speaking on a tour of the Ellesmere Port car plant of Wales team sponsors Vauxhall. For more information go to www.vauxhall.co.uk

Track Cycling World Championships: Jason Kenny wins keirin and Simon Yates wins points race

Riding his luck! Kenny wins world keirin title in Minsk after being reinstated into final

By
Matt Mcgeehan, Press Association

PUBLISHED:

18:23 GMT, 22 February 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:48 GMT, 22 February 2013

Three-time Olympic champion Jason Kenny won gold in the men's keirin final on day three of the Track Cycling World Championships in Minsk as Great Britain claimed victory in successive events.

After Simon Yates won the men's points race on his senior World Championships debut, Kenny succeeded Sir Chris Hoy as world keirin champion to claim Britain's third gold of the first World Championships on the road to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 24-year-old from Bolton was second entering the final lap and rounded Maximilian Levy to triumph. The German was second, with Holland's Matthijs Buchli third.

Fortune: Kenny finished fourth in the semi-final but heat winner Francois Pervis was relegated

Fortune: Kenny finished fourth in the semi-final but heat winner Francois Pervis was relegated

It is his second World Championships
title, but first won on the bike after the 2011 sprint crown was awarded
retrospectively when Gregory Bauge was stripped of the prize for an
anti-doping infringement.

Kenny's win came the hard route.

In an event taking place in the
absence of defending world champion and Olympic gold medal winner Hoy,
who is taking a sabbatical as he weighs up his future, Britain were
represented by Kenny and Matt Crampton.

The duo were drawn together in the first heat and fell into the repechage after failing to finish in the first two.

Only one advanced and Kenny did so, eliminating Crampton in the process.

Kenny received a reprieve to advance
to the final after finishing fourth in his semi-final following a photo
finish, with only three progressing.

However, France's Francois Pervis was
relegated by officials for impeding a rider on the inside and the Briton
progressed as the third-placed rider behind Australian duo Andrew
Taylor and Scott Sunderland.

The Lancastrian found his form in the final and won with aplomb.

Meanwhile, Yates marked his senior Track Cycling World Championships debut with a stunning gold in the men's points race.

The 20-year-old from Bury rode maturely and impressively throughout the 160-lap (40-kilometre) event, which features 16 sprints, to claim a sensational victory in an event which could return to the Olympics in 2016.

He accumulated 35 points, to win by one from Eloy Teruel Rovira of Spain, with Russia's Kirill Sveshnikov third on 30 points.

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Gold: Britain's Simon Yates celebrates after winning the points race in Minsk

Yates was in contention throughout but made his move late. He raced for one point at the 14th sprint and continued his effort to join the lead group, distancing himself from his rivals.

Five points in the penultimate sprint took Yates to within one point of the lead, held by Spain's Teruel Rovira. The lead group were caught with six-and-a-half laps to go, with Yates' main rivals brought back to the bunch.

But the Briton had the skill and speed to claim third on the final sprint to finish with a world champion's rainbow jersey at the first attempt.

It was a ride which will have left his coach Chris Newton impressed. Newton won bronze in the points race in Beijing in 2008 before the event was dropped from the Olympic programme.