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Boat race sponsors Newton turn tide for women rowers Laura Williamson column

Boat race sponsors turn tide for women rowers at long last with equal funding and prestige

-Olympic-legacy.html”>150m investment in primary school sport is arriving too late to inspire a generation
17/03/13

Laura Williamson: Fergie's harmless joke highlights a more serious matter for women within British sport
10/03/13

Laura Williamson: Don Valley stadium fiasco is a kick in the teeth for the next Jess
03/03/13

Laura Williamson: Sickening response of UEFA to plight of travelling Spurs fans
24/02/13

Laura Williamson: It might all be finished for Pistorius but the Paralympic movement will survive
17/02/13

Laura Williamson: Mansfield girl made her truly amazing feats seem 'everyday'
10/02/13

Laura Williamson: Jamieson puts pool before the perks and makes no excuses
27/01/13

Laura Williamson: Netballers court fans – on the other side of the planet
20/01/13

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As the BBC and now BT Sport seem to have noted, you get a lot more action and access for your money when it comes to buying the television, sponsorship and commercial rights for women’s disciplines.

The Boat Race, an event that exudes privilege, pomp and circumstance like no other, might seem an unlikely cause to champion a step forward for sportswomen, but it is the tradition and rigmarole that makes this a particularly important development.

When Katherine Grainger returned from the Sydney Olympics in 2000 after winning Great Britain’s first medal in women’s rowing, a silver in the quad, she said someone came up to her and said: ‘We didn’t even know women rowed.’

You can understand why few — men or women — would want to, given the demands of a sport that has little time for finesse or creativity and commands absolute teamwork to succeed at the highest level.

Anna Watkins (left), with whom Grainger won gold so memorably in London in the double sculls, has said a family member tried to put her off rowing in case ‘she got big arms’. It’s all in the legs, of course, but sweeping generalisations have no time for small technicalities like that.

Watkins ploughed on regardless and, 12 years after Grainger came back from Australia with that silver medal, Britain’s women won their first Olympic gold medals since the sport was added to the programme in 1976 — three of them, in fact.

If the wheels of Oxford and Cambridge can creak slowly into action with regard to a sport as brutal and punishing as rowing, it feels like anything could happen.

WHAT THEY SAID

British athlete Lisa Dobriskey said she did not believe she was ‘competing on a level playing field’ in the Olympic 1500metres final in London and was roundly accused of sour grapes.

The gold medal-winner, Turkey’s Cakir Alptekin, is now facing a lifetime ban after ‘big abnormalities’ were found in her biological passport. Some might just owe Dobriskey an apology.

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

Accused: Lisa Dobriskey's opponent is facing a lifetime ban for 'big abnormalities' in her biological passport

WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK

Watched Wrexham win the FA Trophy with a 4-1 penalty shootout win over Grimsby.

On Saturday, Grimsby fans congregated in Trafalgar Square for a photo. ‘Which team is this’ said a steward. ‘So are they in the Champions League, then’ I wish.

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Glory: Ecstatic Wrexham player-manager Andy Morrell celebrates with the FA Trophy

Got exasperated at the persistent use of the phrase ‘pre-planned’ to describe Rio Ferdinand’s fitness programme. It is either planned or it is not, just like the defender’s ill-advised little jaunt to Doha.

Attended my first Women in Football meeting at Stamford Bridge on Friday after being, I admit, very dubious about the whole idea. I just want to be ‘in football’ rather than a ‘WiF’. I can’t tell you anything else owing to Chatham House rules, but it was certainly very, very interesting.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK

Arsenal Ladies beat ASD Torres 3-1 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Boreham Wood.

Glad to see there’s still one English team fighting for the cause in Europe — and the women’s final is at Stamford Bridge this year, too. The second leg takes place in Sardinia on Wednesday.

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy take a trip around Sydney

Strewth! Wozzilroy frolic 300m above the streets of Sydney on vertigo-inducing Tower Skywalk

Wozniacki suffered with some knee niggles which led to her losing the No 1 ranking, and a loss to Pervak will not have been the way that she would have preferred to finish off the year.

But she seemed to be in good spirits as she joined McIlroy on the Sydney Tower Skywalk. The pair took a stroll around the top of the building, which is over 300m tall.

It must have been a nerve-wracking experience for the Dane, as she tweeted: 'Really proud of myself, on top of the world in Sydney with @McIlroyRory! #afraidofhights'

The pair also made stop at the world-famous Sydney Opera House during their city trip.

The pair have denied that they are set to wed after Wozniacki was spotted wearing a diamond ring

Not engaged: The pair have denied that they are set to wed after Wozniacki was spotted wearing a diamond ring

They have denied engagement rumours after Wozniacki was spotted with a diamond studded ring on her left hand.

McIlroy recently revealed that he doesn’t know whether or not he will aim to play in the 2016 Olympics.

Golf has just been accepted back into the Olympic family, but the Northern Irishman is anticipating a backlash from whichever nation he chooses not to play for in Rio.

‘Play for one side or the other or not play at all because I may upset too many people,’ said McIlroy, in a BBC Northern Ireland documentary.

‘Those are the three options that I am considering very carefully.’

Nasser Hussain: Ricky Ponting was a streetfighter, a panto villain… and a true great

Ponting was a streetfighter, a panto villain… and a true great

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UPDATED:

20:19 GMT, 29 November 2012

This is good news for England. Ricky Ponting still had the potential to score big runs, even though he hadn’t done that for a while, and his retirement adds a bit more weight to England’s Ashes chances.

I’m not saying England should be breathing a sight of relief now Ponting has gone but this means another younger player will have to come into the Aussie side for the Ashes and there are not too many knocking on the door.

Ponting was right up there with the best. While Brian Lara was a genius and Sachin Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid almost machine-like in their run scoring, Ricky was a bit more human, if you like.

Fierce competitor: Ricky Ponting was so stung by Australia's 2005 Ashes loss that he masterminded a 5-0 whitewash over hapless England

Fierce competitor: Ricky Ponting was so stung by Australia's 2005 Ashes loss that he masterminded a 5-0 whitewash over a hapless England

He had some off-field issues — like that night he got himself in a fight in a Sydney bar and admitted to a drink problem — and he was more of a streetfighter than the other greats, a real scrapper who loved a battle.

When he was on top of his game, Ponting’s hand-eye co-ordination was incredible. In my day bowlers like Andy Caddick, Angus Fraser and Alex Tudor would bowl a natural length and he would just pull them dismissively. Other batsmen would have played a defensive shot.

I would see the looks on the bowlers’ faces, of sheer disbelief, and they would try to bowl fuller at Ponting and then he would just smack it back past them.

Yet at times, with his huge backlift, he looked vulnerable to the moving ball.
Ponting was very popular among his team-mates and a captain for whom players loved performing. But he was not the greatest of tacticians.

Calling it a day: Ponting holds some remarkable records, including most test victories as captain, most runs by an Australian, most centuries by an Australian and most consecutive test victories by a captain

Calling it a day: Ponting holds some remarkable records, including most test victories as captain, most runs by an Australian, most centuries by an Australian and most consecutive test victories by a captain

Ponting was more of a Graham Gooch type, a captain who led from the front, and for a while the shadow of Shane Warne, who really was astute, hung over him.

After Ponting had wrongly decided to bowl first at Edgbaston in 2005, when Warne had advised him to bat, Ponting was always chasing the game tactically.

Ponting became a pantomime villain in England, probably after that time at Trent Bridge when he started chuntering at Duncan Fletcher after Gary Pratt had run him out, but I think the public liked the fact he could be vulnerable. He was clearly a decent and honest guy.

Way back when: Ponting (second left) celebrates as Nasser is bowled by Andy Bichel at Adelaide in 2002

Way back when: Ponting (second left) celebrates as Nasser is bowled by Andy Bichel at Adelaide in 2002

We had our moments as opponents. There is a tape somewhere that a stump mic picked up of Ponting launching into me after I had clashed with Glenn McGrath — I might have made a comment about Ricky’s size in return — but that was what he did. He would always back up his players and I had absolute respect for that. It was never aimless and he would be the first opponent to say well done after you had made a score against him.

He deserves a great last Test.

Michael Clarke better than Sir Donald Bradman?

Better than Bradman High-flying Clarke is in the form of ANY Test batsman's life

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UPDATED:

14:21 GMT, 22 November 2012

It's no longer enough to say that Michael Clarke is merely in the form of his life. After Thursday's undefeated 224 against South Africa at Adelaide, there is an argument for saying he is in the form of any batsman's life in the history of Test cricket – including Don Bradman.

Clarke's 243-ball beauty pageant, part of Australia's first-day Blitzkrieg of 482 for 5 – the most they have scored in a day's play since 1901 – made him the first player to score four Test double-hundreds in a single year.

Bradman managed three of the blighters in 1930. It's only fair to point out that he batted only eight times that year to the 12 innings Clarke has managed so far in 2012. Even so, a fourth double eluded him.

Flying high: Clarke is in the form of any Test batsman's life

Flying high: Clarke is in the form of any Test batsman's life

Top Spin

As Bradman himself would have pointed out: facts are facts. You just don't outdo the Don, especially not in Australia, and especially not at Adelaide, Bradman's home for most of his career.

But Clarke is redefining records that have stood untouched for years, and have thus been regarded as untouchable.

It all starts with Bradman's Test average of 99.94, which cricket aficionados generally accept won't ever be beaten over the course of a lengthy career. And it goes from there. No one can rival Bradman. If they do, we know we are witnessing something special.

Take bat: Clarke has scored 1,265 Test runs this calendar year

Take bat: Clarke has scored 1,265 Test runs this calendar year

Clarke now averages 75 in his 17 Tests as captain of Australia, which began so unpromisingly with an innings defeat to England at Sydney in January 2011. In 2012, that figure rises to 140.

This calendar year alone, he has scored 1,265 Test runs, which is 361 runs more than the next man, Alastair Cook. But Cook averages 43, nearly 100 fewer.

Quite simply, no one can live with Clarke – except, it seems, Kyly Boldy, who married him in May and is presumably enjoying what must feel like the longest honeymoon in Test history. For there is a joy about Clarke's batting right now that weds confidence and technique and fearlessness.

Legend of the game: Don Bradman's Test average of 99.94 is unlikely to be beaten

Legend of the game: Don Bradman's Test average of 99.94 is unlikely to be beaten

South Africa's attack may have been weakened by injuries to Jacques Kallis and Dale Steyn, but Clarke was still in the mood to take five fours in an over off the fearsome Morne Morkel. A lofted drive over extra-cover was followed by two cuts backward of point, a drive past a flailing mid-off, then – the piece de resistance – a glorious on-drive.

In January, Clarke scored 329 not out against India at Sydney, but declared before he could go past Australia's record of 334, shared by Mark Taylor and Bradman. The time feels right to rectify that show of modesty in Adelaide tomorrow.

Ashes 2013-14: Australia announce five-test England series dates

Ashes to Ashes: Australia announce dates for 2013-14 series Down Under

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UPDATED:

07:33 GMT, 22 November 2012

England's second successive Ashes series next winter will begin in Brisbane on November 21.

Cricket Australia today released the dates for the five-Test portion of the 2013-14 tour, which also contains five one-day internationals and three Twenty20 matches and begins just weeks after Australia depart England.

England have three tour matches, the first of which is against a Western Australia XI in Perth beginning on October 31, before the first Test and a fourth in between the first and second Tests.

Ashes to Ashes: Australian chiefs have announced the dates for the 2013-14 series Down Under

Ashes to Ashes: Australian chiefs have announced the dates for the 2013-14 series Down Under

AUSTRALIA v ENGLAND
ASHES SERIES 2013-14

Brisbane, November 21-25, 2013: First Test
Adelaide, December 5-9: Second Test
Perth, December 13-17: Third Test
Melbourne, December 26-30: Fourth Test
Sydney, January 3-7, 2014: Fifth Test

Tour matches
Perth, October 31-November 2: WA XI v England
Hobart, November 6-9: Australia A v England
Sydney, November 13-16: NSW XI v England

Further Tests will take place at the Adelaide Oval, the WACA, the Melbourne Cricket Ground – the traditional Boxing Day game – and the Sydney Cricket Ground, finishing on January 7.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said: “We are delighted to be able to confirm the Ashes fixtures so far in advance of the Series. It means fans will be able to plan their trips around the country to follow all the action.

'I am sure there will be a lot of fans from the UK who will want to make the trip over and we look forward to hosting them here.'

England are facing the same opposition in back-to-back series – at home next summer and away in the winter – to prevent a quick turnaround between the Ashes and the World Cup, which takes place in Australia in early 2015.

The dates of the limited-overs fixtures have not yet been announced.

Water performance: England players celebrating their 2011 series victory in Australia with the famous sprinkler dance

Water performance: England players celebrating their 2011 series victory in Australia with the famous sprinkler dance

David Beckham in talks to join Australian A-League

Is Becks heading Down Under Ex-England captain could join Heskey and Co in Oz

PUBLISHED:

07:45 GMT, 16 November 2012

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UPDATED:

09:41 GMT, 16 November 2012

David Beckham could be set to make a stunning short-term move to the A-League after Football Federation Australia claimed it was in talks to bring the former England captain Down Under.

Beckham signed a two-year deal with the Los Angeles Galaxy in January, but could spend part of the Major Soccer League off-season in Australia.

The 37-year-old has previously joined AC Milan on loan between MLS seasons and the FFA said it had been approached by his management about the possibility of a deal to see him play in the the A-League.

Down Under: Beckham is seeking a move to Australia

Down Under: LA Galaxy star Beckham is seeking a move to Australia

The big-name players Becks could join

Alessandro Del Piero (age 37)
The 91-cap Italy legend recently sealed a move to Sydney FC after a glittering career in Serie A for Juventus.

Emile Heskey (age 34)
The much-maligned former England international has become an instant hit in Australia after joining the Newcastle Jets.

Shinji Ono (age 33)
The former Japan international signed for the Western Sydney Wanderers on a two-year deal

'The approach from David Beckham's
people is another sign of how much the Hyundai A-League has grown in
stature on a global basis,' an FFA spokesperson said.

'Beckham is a superstar on the world
stage and he would be another massive signing for the Hyundai A-League
after the arrivals of Alessandro Del Piero, Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono.

'But this approach remains at a very preliminary stage.'

Reports in Australia suggest that any move for Beckham would likely see him agree a 10-match stay.

A spokesman for Beckham however was
quick to refute the claim, saying: 'David is completely focused on the
MLS play offs and winning another Championship with the Galaxy.

Emile Heskey

Alessandro Del Piero

Australian revolution: Heskey and Del Piero have recently moved to the A-League

'There's always enormous interest from clubs across world in signing David. He has absolutely no plans to play in Australia.'

Beckham could play his last Galaxy
game of the season this weekend when his side meet the Seattle Sounders
in the second leg of their Western Conference Championship play-off.

Centre of attention: Beckham's one-year contract with the Los Angeles Galaxy is due to expire in the next month

Eye on the ball: Beckham could be set to make a short-term move to Australia

The A-League's 'marquee' rule

Any move for Beckham would need to be part-funded by the FFA with the A-League clubs, who work under a salary cap, unlikely to be able to afford his demands.

Most of the Australian clubs have also already secured their marquee player – whose wages are not registered under the salary cap – for the new season, which began early last month.

Perth Glory have already stated an interest in Beckham and Lyall Gormal, executive chairman of new A-League franchise Western Sydney Wanderers, said the former Manchester United and Real Madrid would have obvious commercial appeal.

He told Sky Sports News: 'We haven't had formal or informal contact over this, but clearly we are aware of the iconic vale of David Beckham.

'Beckham is outstanding. We've seen him here before on a couple of occasions. There was an 80,000 sell-out at the Olympic Stadium and he was here with the Galaxy the year before last for a game against the Newcastle Jets.

'He would be a fantastic commodity to bring to Australia.'

David Beckham

David Beckham

No move: Melbourne Victory have already ruled out a move for the former England captain

On the contradictory statements from the FFA and the Beckham camp, Gormal added: 'It is puzzling isn't it

'My understanding is there have been
informal approaches to other clubs. One or two have already come out and
talked about their interest. 'Clearly there has been some informal
discussions so it is a bit puzzling.'

Galaxy meet the Seattle Sounders in the second leg of their Western Conference Championship play-off this weekend.

The Galaxy hold a 3-0 advantage after
Robbie Keane scored twice in the first leg. Should Beckham make the
move he would join the likes of former Juventus and Italy star Del Piero
and Heskey, who joined the A-League in the summer.

Head boy: A spokesperson for Beckham has dismissed the story

Head boy: A spokesperson for Beckham has dismissed the story

The Glory, last season's beaten grand
finalists, are yet to fill that position, however, and their chief
executive Paul Kelly immediately indicated they would be keen should
Beckham be available.

'We are always happy to speak to
players of the calibre of David Beckham, who would be great for the
Hyundai A-League as illustrated by the effect of Alessandro Del Piero,
Emile Heskey and Shinji Ono,' he said.

'At the end of the day it's the
coach, Ian Ferguson who makes these decisions and we as a club, have a
process that we follow when recruiting players.

'But we would be mad not to seriously consider David Beckham.'

Melbourne Victory coach Ange Postecoglou has ruled out making an approach for Beckham.

'That's great if he is coming,' Victory manager Ange Postecoglou told local media. 'Would we be interested Nah.'

Western Sydney Wanderers executive chairman Lyall Gorman told Fairfax Media: 'If we were approached, we would go through the normal process. 'We've had no approaches at all. We don't speculate on those things until they come across our table.'

Emile Heskey loses on A-League debut

Heskey makes losing start in Australia as Newcastle Jets are brought down by Adelaide

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UPDATED:

14:43 GMT, 7 October 2012

Emile Heskey failed to make his mark on his A-League debut as Newcastle Jets lost at home to Adelaide united.

The former England striker, who has only been in Australia for 10 days, played 70 minutes and managed a couple of shots on goal.

But he could not prevent his new employers from slipping to a 2-0 defeat, Dario Vidosic and Iain Ramsay on target for the visitors.

Slow start: Emile Heskey and Newcastle lost to Adelaide United

Slow start: Emile Heskey and Newcastle lost to Adelaide United

Clatter: Keeper Eugene Galekovic feels the full force of a Heskey challenge

Clatter: Keeper Eugene Galekovic feels the full force of a Heskey challenge

Former Italy and Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero was also on the losing side as Sydney FC lost 2-0 to Wellington Phoenix in New Zealand.

The 37-year-old showed some superb touches and quick feet but it was Stein Huysegems and Louis Fenton who grabbed the goals.

Still got it: Alessandro Del Piero showed some nice touches for Sydney FC

Still got it: Alessandro Del Piero showed some nice touches for Sydney FC

Del Piero said: 'I am not satisfied – we lost but it was the first match. 'We need to do hard training, day by day, and think of the next game.

'After 10 matches, we can talk in general, but not now.

'I'm Okay. I played 90 minutes but I need to do better. I need to improve. I'm enjoying it, but not the result.'

Star attraction: Del Piero was the one the fans all wanted a glimpse of

Star attraction: Del Piero was the one the fans all wanted a glimpse of

Alessandro del Piero makes Sydney FC debut

Low turnout and defeat for Italian legend Del Piero as Sydney career starts slowly

PUBLISHED:

11:14 GMT, 6 October 2012

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UPDATED:

11:14 GMT, 6 October 2012

Alessandro del Piero took his first tentative steps in Australian football on the losing team as his new Sydney FC club side was beaten 2-0 by the Wellington Phoenix in the opening round of the 10-team A-League.

Though short on match fitness, the 37-year-old former Juventus and Italy star played 90 minutes in a low-key debut that may not have lived up to the anticipation generated by his arrival in the A-League as its costliest and most high-profile signing.

Perfect 10: Alessandro Del Piero made his Sydney FC debut at Westpac Stadium, but it ended in defeat

Perfect 10: Alessandro Del Piero made his Sydney FC debut at Westpac Stadium, but it ended in defeat

Perfect 10: Alessandro Del Piero made his Sydney FC debut at Westpac Stadium, but it ended in defeat

Del Piero started up front for Sydney but generally dropped back into midfield and provided a series of classy touches in a team that was substantially outplayed.

He had unthreatening shots on goal in the 13th and 76th minutes but hinted at much better things to come when his fitness improves.

Saturday's match was played in wet and cool conditions in front of a crowd of 12,057 fans in a 34,500-capacity stadium that recently hosted a
rugby test between New Zealand and Argentina.

Brave new world: Del Piero moved to Australia after a whole career spent with Italian giants Juventus

Brave new world: Del Piero moved to Australia after a whole career spent with Italian giants Juventus

Brave new world: Del Piero moved to Australia after a whole career spent with Italian giants Juventus

Although his presence wasn't enough to carry Sydney to victory, he showed flashes of skill. He snapped a sharp, right-footed shot over the bar in the 13th minute in his first touch of the match and in the 76th minute, with more time, curled a long-range shot wide of the right-hand post.

In between those efforts he rolled deft passes into the path of teammates, showed the ability to turn and distribute the ball with a first touch that occasionally confounded defenders.

But the fireworks hoped for on his debut fizzled in damp and slippery conditions. And his thunder was stolen by two players making their Wellington debuts.

Forgot to tell the fans: The stadium was barely a third full as the legend made his A-League bow

Forgot to tell the fans: The stadium was barely a third full as the legend made his A-League bow

Forgot to tell the fans: The stadium was barely a third full as the legend made his A-League bow

Striker Stein Huysegems, who failed to score in 15 international matches for Belgium, scored in the 42nd minute of his first A-League match.
Huysegems ran onto a superb through ball from Manny Muscat, paused on the edge of the area and drove his low, left foot shot wide of the keeper.

Teenager Louis Fenton, also making his A-League debut, added a brilliant second goal with a diving header from a Muscat cross in the 74th minute.

Emile Heskey Newcastle Jets shirts sold out

Heskey fever takes over Down Under with Jets No 9 shirts sold out within a week

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UPDATED:

15:22 GMT, 27 September 2012

Newcastle Jets have already sold out their first batch of Emile Heskey replica shirts as the hysteria surrounding the striker’s transfer shows no sign of slowing down.

The A-League side revealed they have ordered 5,000 more Heskey No 9 strips to meet the incredible demand.

Heskey’s arrival comes a week after Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero signed for rival side Sydney FC.

Want one of these Emile Heskey's Jets shirts have sold out

Want one of these Emile Heskey's Jets shirts have sold out

Del Piero’s side reported that ticket sales for their opening game was ten times greater than last season and Heskey’s transfer looks like it has provided a similar boost to the Newcastle Jets.

Less than a week after the former England international’s arrival, more than 1,000 Jets fans have signed up as new members.

It is estimated that the club will have an 11,000-strong membership base by the time the season kicks off – 2,000 greater than last season.

The Jets coach, Gary van Egmond, told Foxsports he was excited about Heskey’s arrival and the impact that he would have on the club.

'It’s fantastic, he ticks all the boxes in a footballing sense with his ability and experience.

'From a commercial and marketing point of view, he's going to be a great fit.'

Fanatic support: Alessandro Del Piero has taken Australia by storm

Fanatic support: Alessandro Del Piero has taken Australia by storm

Van Egmond was also hopeful that Heskey will be in good condition when he arrives in Australia on Friday.

'We are obviously all hoping he is going to be ready to go. From my understanding, he's been training at Wigan and has kept himself in really good nick.

'Everyone's hopeful it's all OK and he's in decent shape but as I say, we can't do anymore at this stage except wait until we see him in the flesh and then go from there.'

The club's Swiss defender Dominik Ritter was equally as excited and could not wait to play alongside his new teammate.

'When I came here, I didn't know much about Australian football,' he said.

'Then a couple of weeks ago, Del Piero signed [with Sydney FC] and everyone from Switzerland, my family and friends, all texted me saying how great it was.

'Now Emile Heskey is coming to play with me and my team. It's very, very exciting.'

Quade Cooper receives letter from Australian Rugby Union over Twitter row

Wallabies write letter to rebel Cooper in attempt to diffuse Twitter row

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UPDATED:

09:53 GMT, 27 September 2012

Twitter row: Cooper

Twitter row: Cooper

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has sent a letter to fly-half Quade Cooper about the tweets he posted last weekend criticising the national set-up and the tactics of coach Robbie Deans.

The tweets, now erased from his feed @quadecooper, suggested there were problems behind the scenes at the ARU and that he was not allowed to play the brand of rugby he preferred with the Wallabies.

The New Zealand-born fly-half followed that with an interview with local media on Sunday in which he described the environment around the ARU as 'toxic'.

In brief statement on Thursday, the ARU said it had written to Cooper 'in relation to social media comments' but had 'no intention of conducting those discussions with Quade in the public arena'.

The 24-year-old Wallabies and Queensland back has been sidelined for Australia's last two Tests of the Rugby Championship in South Africa and Argentina because of a knee problem.

The ARU has also declined to discuss the progress of a new Wallabies contract for Cooper, whose current deal expires at the end of this year.

Cooper has signed a new three-year contract with the Queensland Reds but it will not be ratified until a Wallabies deal is completed.

His recent comments along with another
saying he wanted to play with Sonny Bill Williams – the All Black who
has been linked with rugby league's Sydney Roosters – has further
fuelled rumours that Cooper might be preparing to quit the code.

New deal: Cooper has committed to Queensland Reds for the next three years

New deal: Cooper has committed to Queensland Reds for the next three years

At his best a mercurial talent whose unpredictability can unpick the game's increasingly tight defences, Cooper helped Queensland to their first Super Rugby title and Australia to a first Tri-nations title in a decade last year.

Queensland Rugby chief Jim Carmichael was moved to release a public statement on Wednesday in an attempt to ease the fears of the province's fans.

'Let me reassure you that Quade has no interest in leaving the Reds,' it read.

'He loves playing for Queensland and representing his country and has reaffirmed his commitment to our organisation on several occasions, and again as late as yesterday afternoon.'