Head coach Joe Schmidt has confirmed he will draw on New Zealand-born White’s Super Rugby experience at tighthead if Ross is sidelined for the November 8 clash. Former Chiefs and Leinster prop White will become Ireland’s fourth oldest debutant of all time at 33 years and 51 days if he faces the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium. Connacht prop Nathan White will make his first Ireland start against South Africa if Mike Ross does not shake off his groin injury. New Zealander Schmidt has promoted White with Marty Moore sidelined after shoulder surgery – and warned of three huge scrummaging challenges ahead next month. “Nathan White is very experienced. He’s played a lot of Super Rugby. He’s 33, so he’s no spring chicken but his experience is one of the reasons why we have picked him,” Schmidt said. “I’m not sure whether Mike (Ross) will play this weekend or next weekend, because at the moment it’s symptom-based. “If he’s able to play then great; if he unavailable for South Africa I think we’ve got a bit of experience in Nathan and we’ve got Rodney (Ah You) who has really picked up his form and Steven Archer who is on his way back to form. “Connacht’s two tighthead boys are rewarded for some really good performances – Rodney against Glasgow, Nathan against a number of sides. “Probably uppermost for Nathan was how we went against Jack McGrath and Cian Healy in the derby game against Leinster. “To be honest, there aren’t too many other options given other injuries. Tadhg Furlong we do believe is a long-term option, but at the moment he’s pretty young to be thrown in.” South Africa ooze scrum power with the likes of Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira merely the start. Locks Bakkies Botha, Eben Etzebeth and Victor Matfield offer near unrivalled ballast. Ireland’s third autumn opponents Australia may not boast the same set-piece pedigree, but Schmidt warned unfashionable Georgia cannot be overlooked. Clermont cornerstone Davit Zirakashvili leads the cast, as adept in the wide channels as the dark corners. Stade Francais prop Davit Kubriashvili and Toulon flanker Mamuka Gorgodze underline Georgia’s mammoth pack, leaving Schmidt wary of the fast-improving Lelos. “We’re not just talking about the highly ranked teams. Georgia have got a prop factory,” Schmidt said, backing Jack McGrath to cope at loosehead in Cian Healy’s absence. “There are a number of very, very good props, and we don’t want to put a guy in a position where he loses a bit of confidence. “We need to be as solid in that department of the game as we possibly can be. “On the loosehead side, Jack McGrath has continued to grow and do well for us. “I think what he did in Argentina was a real benchmark for him. “Argentina, I know they added (Agustin) Creevy and (Marcos) Ayerza to their front-row but (Ramiro) Herrera was the guy who was starting most of those Rugby Championship matches. “And he’s the guy I felt Jack put a lot of pressure on. So Jack’s continued to progress. “And James Cronin, I thought he came on and did a pretty good job at the weekend. “And Dave Kilcoyne is the guy who has been there before. “He came off the bench in the first Test against Argentina and we felt he did a good job. “So we’re trying to benchmark those Test matches and those big European games, or the big PRO12 games – the ones that are either derby games or games against Glasgow or Ospreys.” Press Association
Balbriggan put up an admirable front-running performance to land a gamble in the highly competitive Ladbrokes Troytown Handicap Chase at Navan. Groody Hill, winner of this race in 2011, stayed on strongly for third, with Back Off Mate fourth. “It was easy enough to fancy him off a light weight,” said Sexton, last season’s champion Irish conditional rider.. “He was loving it all in front. His ears were pricked and he was winging his fences. He loves galloping and he handles soft ground.” Elliott, completing a double on the day following the success of Free Expression, said: “He’s owned by two soccer agents (Lee Power and Willie McKay). “We gave a good few quid for him but he’s paid his way now. He ran at Sedgefield because the lads were going to be there and we had a great day out. “I couldn’t believe the price he was (20-1 on Saturday and 11-1 on track). He’s in all the staying chases like the Becher and the Paddy Power. “He’d a nice light weight on his back and Kevin jumped him out and made use of it. He gave him a fine ride.” Balbriggan was cut to 12-1 from 14s for the Coral Welsh National with Paddy Power. Available at 14-1 in places in the morning, the Gordon Elliott-trained grey was sent off the 4-1 favourite and barely gave his legion of supporters an anxious moment. Ridden with supreme confidence by 3lb claimer Kevin Sexton, Balbriggan saw off all-comers as he bounded to victory by a length and three-quarters from Owega Star, the only one to pose a threat coming down the straight. Press Association
“It is the same injury he had before. I don’t want to go further, but it’s not good. I hope the specialist opinion in the week is positive.” Giaccherini, who joined the club in a £6.5million switch from Juventus in July 2013, sat out three months of the season before returning as a substitute in the 3-1 Barclays Premier League defeat to Hull at the Stadium of Light on Boxing Day. However, his comeback amounted to just six games after he was injured once again during the 3-1 FA Cup fourth-round replay victory at Fulham on February 3, one of just four starts he has made this season. His latest spell on the sidelines comes as £10million summer signing Jack Rodwell too battles for fitness having not reappeared since his red card against Fulham in the first game on January 24 after damaging a calf muscle. Poyet was at least able to welcome Lee Cattermole back to the side after a 10-game absence for Saturday’s frustrating 0-0 draw with West Brom. The Uruguayan said: “At any level, you need different characters and in special moments, you need certain ones and I think Lee is one of them. “He is very important in difficult moments.” Press Association Sunderland midfielder Emanuele Giaccherini will see a specialist this week amid fears that an injury-wrecked season could be all but over for him. The 29-year-old Italy international has made only 10 appearances for the club to date this term because of a combination of groin and ankle injuries, and it is recurrence of his ankle problem which is currently giving cause for concern. Head coach Gus Poyet told the Sunderland Echo: “It doesn’t look good. We are reassessing, but we will get a full update [this] week.
West Ham are confident that the deal to move into the Olympic Stadium does not contravene domestic or European legislation and “categorically” stated that it does not constitute state aid. “It is clear that the linking of the naming rights to West Ham United generates real cash value for the LLDC. “Without West Ham United, the Stadium would continue to cost the taxpayer millions of pounds a year. “With us, the public purse will see a return on the hundreds of millions of pounds that were committed to build the Stadium, long before West Ham’s association had begun.” West Ham’s statement was echoed by the LLDC, who highlighted the Olympic Stadium’s multi-use future. “Our position has always been absolutely clear the arrangements for the Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park do not constitute state aid,” a LLDC spokesperson said. “The Stadium will remain in public ownership after it has been transformed into a multi-use arena and has two concessionaires UK Athletics and West Ham United. “This autumn it will host five matches of Rugby World Cup 2015, a Rugby League international and, in 2017 the IAAF World Athletics Championships and IPC World Athletics Championships. “We have appointed an operator whose role is to programme other events in the Stadium including concerts and conferences, alongside the sport. “We formed our position after taking specialist advice and it was shared with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport before we completed the open competitive process to find the main concessionaire and before we entered into contract with West Ham United.” The report suggests the failure of London Mayor Boris Johnson and the London Legacy Development Corporation to obtain prior approval from the European Commission before signing the deal opens up the possibility of challenges from anyone who feels disadvantaged. That could leave West Ham facing a large compensation bill, but the club defended their position in a lengthy statement about the Olympic Stadium deal. A West Ham spokesman said: “West Ham United is confident that its agreement with the LLDC complies with all relevant UK and European legislation and categorically does not constitute state aid. “Indeed, the European Commission looked into a complaint in relation to our move to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in 2013 but ‘decided not to further pursue’ the matter. “The club was selected as anchor concessionaire following a fair, transparent and robust process that was open to any group or organisation in the country. “Out of the four proposals submitted, West Ham’s was selected as it delivered a sustainable and viable future for the Stadium and, crucially, provided the best return for the taxpayer. “The agreement with the LLDC will see West Ham make a substantial capital contribution towards the conversion works of a Stadium that it may only rent for up to 25 matchdays a year, pay a multimillion pound annual usage fee, as well as offering a share of food and catering sales from its supporters. “The worldwide draw of hosting the most popular and watched football league in the world in such an iconic venue will add value to any sponsorship and commercial agreements related to the Stadium, which the public purse stands to further benefit from. The Premier League club are set to move into the London 2012 showpiece venue for the start of 2016-17 season, but the journey there has been a tortuous one, fraught with controversy. Fresh questions were raised about the award of the 99-year lease to West Ham on Tuesday, when it was suggested the deal may contravene European state aid law. Press Association
Press Association “I guess living in the Bahamas now it’s what the locals do and what some of my friends do. It’s what I’ve been roped into doing. I’m not particularly comfortable in the water yet but I’ve had a couple cracks at it. “Learning new things and pushing yourself to do different things is a great way to switch off and sort of free your mind from golf.” World number 17 Matt Kuchar also believes golfers cannot be expected to live in a bubble all year, knowing from personal experience how injuries can be suffered in any circumstances. The 36-year-old missed last year’s US PGA Championship at Valhalla – coincidentally won by McIlroy – after his back seized up when he was stuck in traffic after a shopping trip to buy a water slide for his children. “I didn’t even do anything,” Kuchar said on Tuesday. “I just sat in a car for a long time and my back seized up and I wasn’t able to play. “It’s never fun to miss any tournament and it would particularly be tough if he (McIlroy) had to miss the British Open. But I don’t think you can stop living your life. “You can’t form a bubble around yourself. You can walk down to the coffee shop and twist an ankle on your way. You can’t protect everything. And so I don’t think you stop doing what you’ve always done to this point. “So it’s too bad, but I don’t want to say he made a terrible decision in doing what he did. It’s just bad luck and those things happen.” No player has successfully defended the Scottish Open title and Rose, who carded a flawless closing 65 to win at Royal Aberdeen last year, will only see the composite course at Gullane for the first time in Wednesday’s pre-tournament pro-am. “I’ll rely a lot upon my caddie, who walked it a couple days ago and says he’s got a good game plan in place,” Rose added. “He said that the greens are incredibly good and it’s quite narrow off the tee. “Basically, the style of golf is going to be the same (as last year), be quite conservative off the tee. I think links golf, specifically, you want to try to miss the bunkers. “The pot bunkers are so penal that staying out of those is first and foremost and good long-range putting and good touch around the greens and trying to eliminate the silly mistake. “I think if you can do that, it should do your score well on links courses. “When you come to a new golf course, I think that what happened last year is a little less relevant to being defending champion. “I think for me, it’s a whole new test, it’s a whole new opportunity and that’s the way I’m approaching it really.” McIlroy’s decision to play football in the middle of the season has been questioned in some quarters, but Rose – who will defend his own title at Gullane – was not about to criticise his Ryder Cup team-mate. ” I think Rory has to keep doing what he’s been doing all his life,” Rose said. “I know him pretty well and I think he’s a guy who likes to live his life. “He likes to have fun. He likes to get his mind away from golf. I think he’s the kind of guy that, if he practised 24/7 and got too much in his own head, it’s not going to help him. “We obviously all love the way he plays and he plays really free, and that doesn’t really go hand in hand with somebody who wraps himself up in practise all day and doesn’t really do anything – or I guess enjoy himself. “It’s a tough question, middle of the season, before a major championship… hindsight is a wonderful thing. “He probably wouldn’t do it again and it’s probably the last time he does play football in the middle of season. It’s unfortunate for him obviously.” Asked what potentially dangerous activities he takes part in, world number seven Rose added: “I ‘m not the biggest daredevil in the world. “Anything involving water relaxes me, so maybe spearfishing – that’s probably the most James Bond, daredevil thing I get up to. Justin Rose has backed Rory McIlroy’s decision to play football just days before the defence of his Open title – and revealed he relaxes by going spearfishing in the Bahamas. McIlroy suffered a serious ankle injury during a kickabout with friends on Saturday and medical experts believe he could be out of action for several months if it is a “total rupture” of the anterior talofibular ligament, as described by the Northern Irishman himself. The 26-year-old has pulled out of this week’s Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open and although he has refused to rule out defending his Open title at St Andrews next week, the odds appear stacked against the four-time major winner.
The Republic of Ireland international was the architect of a 3-1 victory at the Stadium of Light, his side’s first on Wearside since 1997 against the opposition which had presented the Canaries with their last Barclays Premier League victory. First-half goals from defenders Russell Martin and Steven Whittaker and a third after the break from Nathan Redmond left the home fans among a crowd of 41,379 singing: “Are you watching, Ellis Short?” The Black Cats are desperately short of the quality they need to avoid yet another relegation scrap. It was Hoolahan’s invention – he played key roles in the second and third goals – which repeatedly tore the home side apart and helped to pave the way for Norwich’s first win of the new season despite substitute Duncan Watmore’s late consolation strike. Advocaat shelved his retirement plans to accept the job of head coach after initially turning down chairman Short’s offer of an extended stay, and he could have been forgiven for regretting his decision by the time the break arrived. Having seen his team capitulate horribly in the first-half at Leicester last weekend, he looked on as they shouldered arms once again as a lack of cutting edge going forward and an inability to defend once again cost them dearly. Norwich, who had also emerged from their opening day fixture empty-handed, were far sharper and exploited their hosts’ frailty at the back in ruthless fashion, if initially with a touch of good fortune when keeper Costel Pantilimon could only push Robbie Brady’s 26th-minute shot against the shins of Martin and ultimately into the back of the net. Whittaker added to Advocaat’s misery eight minutes before the break when he played a one-two with the excellent Hoolahan with full-back Patrick van Aanholt, who was at fault for the opening goal, once again marooned, and fired past the helpless Pantilimon. Steven Fletcher headed just wide from Jeremain Lens’ 41st-minute cross as Sunderland mustered a response of sorts, but the boos which greeted the half-time whistle told their own story. Advocaat changed it at the break, sending on striker Danny Graham for midfielder Sebastian Larsson, and his side returned with greater purpose, Lens smashing a 47th-minute shot into the midriff of keeper John Ruddy, who had not previously had a save to make. Press Association Norwich play-maker Wes Hoolahan turned in a master class as Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat witnessed another horror show. But the respite was short-lived and Redmond wrapped up the win with 33 minutes still to go when he exchanged passes with Hoolahan and slid a shot past the stranded Pantilimon. Watmore produced an exciting late cameo, which included an 88th-minute goal on his Premier League debut, to give the home fans something to shout about, but it was all too little, too late. TWEET OF THE MATCH “I was a little optimistic before the season started but now I’m lost for words oh I’ve got 1…. #shocking #safcvncfc” – Ex-Sunderland defender Michael Gray despairs with his old side. PLAYER RATINGS Sunderland Costel Pantilimon: 5 (Out of 10) Billy Jones: 6 Patrick van Aanholt: 4 Younes Kaboul: 5 Sebastian Coates: 5 Lee Cattermole: 6 Sebastian Larsson: 6 Yann M’Vila: 6 Jeremain Lens: 7 Jermain Defoe: 6 Steven Fletcher: 6 Subs Danny Graham: 6 Duncan Watmore: 7 Norwich John Ruddy: 6 Steven Whittaker: 7 Robbie Brady: 7 Russell Martin: 6 Sebastien Bassong: 6 Nathan Redmond: 7 Alex Tettey: 7 Graham Dorrans: 6 Jonny Howson: 7 Wes Hoolahan: 8 Cameron Jerome: 7 Subs Bradley Johnson: 6 Lewis Grabban: 6 Gary O’Neil: 6 STAR PLAYER Wes Hoolahan was at the centre of all Norwich’s best work, playing the pivotal role in both the second and third goals and causing the Sunderland defence problems all afternoon. MOMENT OF THE MATCH Hoolahan’s delightful lay-off from Nathan Redmond’s pass to allow the winger to slot past keeper Costel Pantilimon and make it 3-0. VIEW FROM THE BENCH Another video nasty for Dick Advocaat’s collection. The veteran Dutchman was parachuted in for a nine-game survival mission last season and pulled it off to earn the offer of an extended stay which he initially rejected. He may wish he had stuck to his original decision. MOAN OF THE MATCH Sunderland left-back Patrick van Aanholt had another day to forget as he was repeatedly caught out of position with Norwich targetting the space behind him, but remained on the field for the full 90 minutes. WHO’S UP NEXT Sunderland v Swansea (Premier League, Saturday August 22) Norwich v Stoke (Premier League, Saturday August 22)
David Marnane’s 2-1 favourite was held up off the pace by Colm O’Donoghue, and still had ground to make up as Joe Eile led a furlong out. After switching towards the rail, Jamesie produced a trmemndous kick, putting daylight between himself and his rivals and easily holding the late charge of Alkasser by a length. Marnane said: “A drop in grade and a bit of confidence is what he needed. “The Group 3 at the Curragh last time was a strong contest and I was a bit worried about the pace today but it worked out well. “He’s a great horse to have around the yard and has always tried all his life. “He’s in two handicaps on Champions Weekend and may go for the six furlong handicap at the Curragh.” Press Association Jamesie showed a smart turn of foot to cut down his rivals in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Race at Navan.
“Those lads are all heroes,” he told Press Association Sport. “I went in before the game and shook a few hands, I know a few of them personally and I’m good friends with Stuart. “The boys seemed in good spirits. Michael has got the team playing better football than any Northern Ireland team I’ve ever seen.” Frampton was not born when Billy Bingham took the country to the 1986 World Cup in Mexico and although the outcome was a good one, he confessed to a nervy night beforehand. “Northern Ireland were last at a tournament in 1986 and I was born in 87, it’s the first tournament of my lifetime and a first ever European Championship. It’s going to be huge,” he said. “It’s so exciting it took me a while to get to sleep the night before the match, I was worrying about the game and how much it means. “I’m usually pretty cool when I’m fighting, I don’t have trouble sleeping because I’m the one in control, but I was nervous for the game. “I can’t really book anything until I have the dates of my next fights but if I can make it to France I’ll be there.” Frampton, the IBF super bantamweight champion, is friends with Leeds winger Stuart Dallas and was at Windsor Park to watch Michael O’Neill’s side seal a famous 3-1 win in Belfast. He spent the match sitting next to golfing hero Rory McIlroy, but arrived early to wish the players luck. Press Association Carl Frampton was on hand to wish Northern Ireland well as they continued punching above their weight to book a place at Euro 2016.
“The German coach has signed a deal to take the helm at the Reds and will be presented at a press conference at Anfield on Friday morning.” Klopp will be presented at a 10am press conference on Friday and his arrival represents something of a coup for owners Fenway Sports Group, who moved swiftly and decisively to appoint the 48-year-old after sacking Brendan Rodgers following Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Everton. Regarded as one of the top coaches in Europe, the fact he has taken on the challenge at Liverpool – who apart from one thrilling title near-miss in 2014 have slid well down the Premier League pecking order – is already being viewed by fans as a significant turning point in their fortunes. Klopp’s appointment immediately injects a feelgood factor into a club in need of it after they were humbled 3-0 at home by West Ham and only just scraped past League Two Carlisle on penalties in the Capital One Cup. But the German will also be expected to bring success back to Anfield, and with the club just three points off the top four and only six behind leaders Manchester City there is great optimism he will be able to have a considerable impact this season. Klopp is expected to bring with him Bosnian Zeljko Buvac, his assistant both at Dortmund and Mainz before that, and coach Peter Krawietz. In preparation for that the club began a clear-out of many of predecessor Rodgers’ backroom staff earlier in the day, with assistant manager Sean O’Driscoll and first team coach Gary McAllister – who were only brought in over the summer in an overhaul of coaching personnel – removed from their posts. Head of performance Glen Driscoll and head of opposition analysis Chris Davies, who followed Rodgers to Anfield from Swansea in 2012, have also lost their jobs. However, former Reds midfielder McAllister has accepted an ambassadorial role and the former Scotland international’s classy act in taking training on Thursday – even though he knew it was his last – reflects well on him and the what influence he can have behind the scenes. McAllister took the session with one member of staff – Pep Lijnders, promoted in the summer from the club’s academy as a player development coach – who has kept his job. It appears the position of head of fitness and conditioning Ryland Morgans, another Rodgers recruit from Swansea, is also safe for now. “The club would like to place on record its thanks to all four men (who have left) for the professionalism, commitment and dedication they have displayed during their time here, and the positive impact they have had in helping to support football operations and the team,” said a club statement. “McAllister will remain with the club, albeit in a different role, not connected to first-team duties. “The Scot has accepted an ambassadorial position, which will allow the club to benefit from his strong connection and affinity with the supporters. “The club would also like to take this opportunity to wish Sean, Glen and Chris every success in the future.” Former Liverpool manager and now England boss Roy Hodgson offered Klopp his best wishes in his new job. “Certainly we wish him well. I mean, it is like everything else – everybody who comes into the job has taken somebody else’s job,” said Hodgson. “It is club business when they decide to change managers. It has got nothing to do with international managers like myself. “All I can do is welcome Jurgen to England and wish him the very best of luck with his job of making Liverpool the top team that the owners would like them to be.” Hodgson also expressed the hope he and the German would enjoy a good working relationship in the coming years. “I’ve been very fortunate since taking over as the England manager that I had a very good relationship, and received a lot of help and backing from Brendan Rodgers,” he added. “I am hoping that Jurgen Klopp will give me the same support and backing as we’ve had.” Press Association Liverpool have confirmed the appointment of former Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp as their new manager. The German signed his contract, which Press Association Sport understands is a three-year deal, in a city centre hotel after flying into Liverpool John Lennon airport on Thursday evening. In a short statement on Twitter the club said: “Liverpool Football Club are delighted to announce Jurgen Klopp has been appointed as the club’s new manager.
The champions slipped to 16th on Saturday as they succumbed to a third straight league defeat and seventh of the season, going down 1-0 at Stoke. Three days on from the 2-1 Champions League victory over Dynamo Kiev, it turned the heat up once again on Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, who was unable to attend Saturday’s contest due to a one-match stadium ban. “I think the table is not realistic now because I think Chelsea deserve more. We will try to recover points which we lost up to now.” Mourinho was left in the team hotel when his side headed to the Britannia Stadium, and Matic felt the Portuguese had done a good job of preparing the players in the time he had to do so. “He prepared before the game in the last couple of training sessions which we had after the Dynamo game,” Matic said. “He prepared everything, at Cobham especially, and we knew what we had to do. “I think we did our job well – there was only the one situation where Stoke scored the goal, and they were lucky to score it.” Mourinho’s assistants Steve Holland and Rui Faria were overseeing things from the touchline as Stoke forward Marko Arnautovic settled Saturday’s game with a 53rd-minute volley. Press Association But while it was another bad result in the London outfit’s grim campaign that left their manager’s future looking more uncertain than ever, Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic has expressed his belief the performance showed the players are working hard for Mourinho in a bid to turn things around. And that sentiment has been echoed by Matic, who said: “I think in the last two games we played good football, but have been unlucky. “I don’t want to say that we have played well in all games this season – of course, there were some where we deserved to lose. “But (on Saturday) I think this was not the case and we deserved more. “What is going well is that the team is together, everyone understands the situation we are in and we will try to be more together and work hard to make this situation better. “In this moment, we haven’t had the luck to change something to make it better for us, but I hope in the future we will.” The 27-year-old Serbia international added: “We are not used to being in this position, but we don’t look a lot at the table. “Last season, when we were champions, for the first 10 or 15 games we also did not look at the table – we just tried to take things game by game and collect as many points as possible. Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic insists the Blues are “together” and not focusing on the Barclays Premier League table that sees them lying just three points above the relegation zone after 12 games.