Stephen Moore to be Wallabies captain

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JUNE 01: Stephen Moore poses during an Australian Wallabies portrait session at Sanctuary Cove on June 1, 2014 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images) Photo: Chris HydeThe ACT Brumbies have endorsed Stephen Moore’s Wallabies captaincy potential. Coach Stephen Larkham said the 91-Test hooker is the ”ideal man” to lead Australia to a successful World Cup campaign next year.
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Moore is expected to be unveiled as the Wallabies’ new captain on Monday, taking charge of the team as it prepares for a three-Test series against France and the build-up to the World Cup in England.

Outgoing Test skipper Ben Mowen says he will be ”insanely jealous” when the Wallabies run out in the series opener in Brisbane on Saturday night, but insists he is ”content” with his decision to quit the role to move his career to France at the end of the year.

Highly respected Moore will get his chance to lead the Wallabies almost a decade after starting his Test career. Larkham believes the 31-year-old is suited to a leadership role.

”One hundred per cent he’s a good choice,” Larkham said.

”He speaks well in front of the group, always says the right things and is very disciplined off the field. He’s been the most consistent performer for the Wallabies in the past year, and for the Brumbies. He’s continually putting in and leading off the field and leading by example on the field.

”I’d 100 per cent back the decision to have him as the captain of the Wallabies. He’s a fantastic leader.”

Moore has been backed by World Cup-winning coaches Rod Macqueen and Bob Dwyer and former Wallabies skipper Nick Farr-Jones as the man to replace Mowen.

The decision to have Moore installed as the new captain was reportedly approved at an ARU board meeting last week.

Moore was a leading candidate with former captains James Horwill and Will Genia, and a future leader, 22-year-old flanker Michael Hooper.

But with just a year to prepare for the World Cup, coach Ewen McKenzie is set to back Moore as the leader of his squad.

The Wallabies were dealt a blow on the weekend with prop Ben Alexander ruled out for at least the first two Tests against France as he battles an ongoing nerve compression injury.

McKenzie suffered the same injury when he was a player, admitting he is still plagued by muscle wastage in one of his arms after years of scrum battles.

Alexander will have a cortisone injection to ease the pain and could be back for the third Test, but it’s more likely he will return to action for the Brumbies’ charge to the Super Rugby finals.

The injury has resulted in Alexander losing significant strength in one side of his body.

”The injury is one I understand quite well, being a former tighthead prop, and while not a sinister issue, it can significantly influence performance due to the impact it has on a player’s overall strength,” McKenzie said.

”In Ben’s instance, it has been admirable to see him push through the pain at a Super Rugby level.”

Mowen was left with a massive black eye after the Brumbies beat the Melbourne Rebels 37-10 on Saturday night. The Super Rugby captain is also nursing a bruised sternum.

Mowen announced in January he was quitting Australian rugby at the end of the year to move his career to France, walking away from the chance to lead the Wallabies to the World Cup.

Instead of joining the Wallabies in camp, Mowen will have a week of rest before returning to Brumbies training and playing club rugby for the Tuggeranong Vikings in the coming weeks.

It’s a long way from the international arena, but Mowen said he was happy to move on. He was confident the Wallabies had ample leaders to cover his departure.

”There’s outstanding leadership right across that group. The Wallabies are in a good space,” Mowen said.

”I’m very content, to be honest. I absolutely loved my time with the Wallabies and I’ll be intensely jealous when they run out, sing the anthem and get to play. But I’m content with where my future is.”

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ACT Brumbies halfback Nic White ready for Wallabies starting spot and kicking duties

Nic White in action against the Rebels on Saturday. Photo: Jeffrey ChanACT Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White admits a starting spot for the Wallabies is “everything” to him and is ready to shoulder the goalkicking duties if called on by coach Ewen McKenzie.
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White put forward his case to beat Will Genia and Nick Phipps for the No. 9 jersey with a brilliant display on Saturday night, leading the Brumbies to a bonus-point win against the Melbourne Rebels while McKenzie watched from the stands.

And it’s his goalkicking prowess that could give him the edge in the three-way tussle as McKenzie attempts to finalise a line-up for the opening Test of a three-game series against France.

White, Christian Lealiifano, Kurtley Beale and Bernard Foley loom as the likely kicking options for the Wallabies.

White is the only goalkicking scrumhalf in the Wallabies squad and has a 75 per cent success rate this season sharing the role with Lealiifano.

“[Starting] is everything. It’s what you play for,” White said.

“You play to be in big games and you play to start in Test matches against big teams, so it’s everything to me.

“It’s out of everyone’s hands … I definitely feel comfortable kicking, you work hard at it and give yourself the best chance of it working.

“Goalkicking helps and I’ve been practising just in case. Christian is taking a little while to get his rhythm back, but I’m his biggest backer.”

Ten Brumbies players joined the Wallabies in camp on Sunday after keeping their Super Rugby finals hopes alive with a 37-10 thumping of the Rebels.

Prop Ben Alexander has been forced to withdraw from the Test series because of a neck injury while hooker Stephen Moore is expected to be named captain on Monday.

Winger Henry Speight will train with the Wallabies for 10 days, despite not being eligible to play for Australia until September 11.

Pat McCabe, who has broken his neck twice in his past two Tests in 2012 and last year, also launched a bid for inclusion in the first-Test squad this week.

Lealiifano and Matt Toomua are battling for the Wallabies No.12 jersey but McKenzie could opt to keep NSW Waratahs duo Foley and Beale together as the flyhalf-inside centre combination.

Toomua has spent almost all his Super Rugby career as a flyhalf and shifted to inside centre on the Wallabies’ spring tour last year.

McKenzie has bracketed the 24-year-old as a centre instead of a flyhalf but hasn’t ruled out using Toomua as the chief playmaker.

“To be honest, I don’t know much about the situation … my name has been bracketed as a centre, so that will be interesting,” Toomua said.

“I obviously want to be in the [starting] XV, and if that’s at No.10 or No. 12 I’ll do all I can to be there.

“It will be interesting to see the mix there, but I’d like to be in there. I do feel comfortable [at inside centre].”

Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham backed White and Toomua to help guide the Wallabies to a series victory over France.

White has started just two of his 10 Tests while Genia is the incumbent scrumhalf.

“Whitey was disappointed with the way he played in South Africa. He felt as though he contributed to the losses over there and [against the Rebels] was one of the best games I’ve seen him play,” Larkham said.

“He can definitely step up to start … [Toomua] is certainly someone who can play very well at that next level, whether that’s at flyhalf or inside centre. He can handle the big games.”

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Canberra’s Patty Mills and San Antonio Spurs through to NBA finals against Miami Heat

Canberra basketballer Patrick Mills says the San Antonio Spurs are desperate to get rid of the “bad taste” left by an NBA finals defeat last year, declaring the team is ready for redemption against the superstar Miami Heat.
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Mills and the Spurs booked their spot in the NBA finals when they beat the Kevin Durant-led Oklahoma City Thunder in overtime 112-107 on Sunday, Australian time, to clinch the western conference title for the second consecutive year.

Mills and teammate Aron Baynes are on the verge of becoming the first Australians in more than a decade to win the NBA championship and join legends Andrew Gaze and Luc Longley.

Mills said he was ready to shoulder a bigger workload if All-Star point guard Tony Parker is injured.

“It’s crazy, there’s about 2000 fans waiting at the airport for us,” Mills told The Canberra Times after arriving back in San Antonio.

“It feels good, really good. All the year in the off-season was to get back to this stage to have another crack at Miami. We felt like we let one slip last year and it left a bad taste, but that has been fuelling the fire to motivate us.”

Mills has overhauled his off-court life to be in career-best form.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Mills was “a little fat ass” when asked why Mills didn’t play more in the 2012-13 season.

To get fit, Mills has cut out guilty pleasures such as strawberry milk and hired a personal chef at the start of the year to teach him how to be healthy and get the best out of his body.

The Heat, which boasts stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, has won the past two NBA titles.

The Spurs led the seven-game finals series 3-2 last year, but lost game six in overtime and then had a heartbreaking defeat in the championship game.

Mills missed the end of the series with a mystery foot injury, but is poised to take on a bigger workload with Parker battling niggling problems.

The Spurs and Heat will start the NBA finals on Friday, Australian time, in San Antonio and Mills will delay his search for a new contract until after the series.

The 25-year-old two-time Olympian is enjoying the best season of his NBA career.

“To go through all the hard work and put in what we have, it feels great to be back there and I’m very proud,” Mills said.

“We didn’t play our best basketball [against the Thunder], it wasn’t pretty but we showed our character, passion and we wanted to get it done.

“It does feel different to last year, we knew we had a lot of work to do and the loss to Miami was burning in the back of our heads.

“Miami has been playing tough all year … we believe in ourselves and we know the basketball we need to play to get the job done.”

Mills wants Australia to adopt the Spurs as “their team” in the battle against the Heat, urging fans to get behind Mills and Baynes in the run to the title.

“Two years in a row in the finals, it’s a great achievement for me and Baynesy but also for Australia,” Mills said.

“I can’t say thank-you enough for all the support from back home, it’s great to see everyone back home getting behind us and hopefully they can keep it up for the finals now.”

Mills failed to score in the clash with the Thunder, but the former Marist College student and AIS graduate says his game continues to improve.

He averaged 10.9 points a game in the regular season, but his scoring has dropped to 6.9 in the play-offs. Send your messages of support to Patty Mills on Twitter or leave a comment below.

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New Zealand Warriors defeat Newcastle Knights 38-18: photos

New Zealand Warriors defeat Newcastle Knights 38-18: photos Ben Matulino of the Warriors charges forward.
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Adam Cuthbertson of the Knights passes the ball.

Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors is taken off injured.

Simon Mannering of the Warriors celebrates after scoring a try.

Jayson Bukuya of the Warriors charges forward.

Ben Matulino of the Warriors charges forward.

Konrad Hurrell of the Warriors is taken off injured.

James McManus of the Knights makes a break.

James McManus of the Knights makes a break.

James McManus of the Knights makes a break.

Simon Mannering of the Warriors looks to pass the ball.

Sam Tomkins of the Warriors charges forward.

TweetFacebook Knights V WarriorsScenes from the Knights V Warriors Round 12 game at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, on Sunday. Pictures by Hannah Peters, Getty Images. THE New Zealand Warriors all but snuffed out Newcastle’s already faint finals hopes with a 38-18 thumping of the Knights at Mt Smart Stadium on Sunday.

In their first game since former owner Nathan Tinkler and his Hunter Sports Group management company severed ties, the Knights tried hard and hung in for long periods but paid the price for unforced errors to slump to their fifth consecutive loss and ninth from 11 games this season.

Sitting equal last alongside Cronulla on six points, the Knights face the highly improbable task of having to win 10 of their last 13 games to return to the finals.

The immediate future looks much rosier for the Warriors, who have won four of their past five games to move into the logjam on the edge of the top eight.

It was the Warriors’ eighth win from their past nine games against the Knights at Mt Smart Stadium, and captain Simon Mannering celebrated the twin milestones of his 200th game for the club and 100th as skipper with two first-half tries including one from his own grubber kick.

Giant winger Manu Vatuvei also bagged a brace for the Warriors in front of an appreciative crowd of 19,068 in their first appearance at their spiritual home ground this season after three matches at Eden Park and another in Wellington.

The Knights made an encouraging start, posting first points in the sixth minute when Tyrone Roberts caught Jarrod Mullen’s kick to the middle to touch down under the posts. Towering winger Josh Mantellato, in his second NRL start as a late replacement for the injured Aku Uate (knee), converted from in front for a 6-0 lead.

Newcastle suffered a blow in the 10th minute when prop Kade Snowden took an accidental knee to the head trying to tackle Ben Matulino and he was helped from the field on wobbly legs.

Finding room to move up the middle and on the fringes, the Warriors struck back with three tries in 13 minutes – all from kicks – to take a 16-6 lead by the 24th minute.

Captain Mannering was an unlikely first try-scorer for the home team, regathering his own grubber kick to score in the 11th minute, and the Warriors backed that up with two more from Shaun Johnson cross-field bombs.

Manu Vatuvei, making up for an earlier handling error that led to Newcastle’s first try, flew above Mantellato to bat Johnson’s kick back for fullback Sam Tomkins to score in the 18th minute, then Vatuvei combined with Johnson again six minutes later to out-leap Mantellato and score one for himself.

Warriors wrecking-ball Konrad Hurrell suffered an apparent arm injury in the 23rd minute but returned 11 minutes later seemingly none the worse for wear.

Just when it looked like the Warriors would run away with the game, the Knights hit back in the 30th minute when centre Joey Leilua recovered a Roberts grubber behind the Warriors’ defensive line to touch down.

Mantellato converted to cut the deficit to four points and the Knights would have been satisfied trailing by that margin at the break but playmaker Jarrod Mullen’s attempted trick shot 90 seconds from half-time back-fired.

Inside their own defensive red zone, Mullen tried to chip kick for winger James McManus but the ball went out on the full to hand possession back to the Warriors in prime field position.

The Warriors needed just a couple of plays before Feleti Mateo flicked a pass to Mannering, who crashed over for his second try.

Newcastle refused to yield, clawing back within four points again when Roberts spun in a tackle and passed for Robbie Rochow to score in the 53rd minute. Mantellato’s conversion made it 22-18.

But when Chris Houston spilled a pass under minimal pressure 25 metres from his own line, Ngani Laumape picked up the crumbs to send Chad Townsend over for his first try in Warriors colours and a 28-18 lead in the 63rd minute.

A restarted tackle count gave the Warriors another attacking set deep in Newcastle territory and Johnson and Tomkins combined to send Hurrell over in the corner in the 74th minute.

Vatuvei emerged from a pile of bodies on the Newcastle line to score his second try a minute before full-time, and Johnson converted from the sideline after the siren.

The Warriors made a clean sweep of the three grades, accounting for the Knights 34-12 in NSW Cup and 34-22 in the National Youth Cup (under-20s).