Wallabies 2021: Rugby Australia big decision on whether to keep director of rugby Scott Johnson, Dave Rennie, Andy Marinos,


Update: At the end of 2018 Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle hired Scott Johnson to rein in Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Now Rugby Australia’s new CEO Andy Marinos, who was coached by Johnson at Wales, must decide whether or not to keep the well-travelled figure as director of rugby.

It can be revealed that Johnson’s contract with RA runs out at year’s end.

Johnson wants to continue in the role.

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Super Rugby AU 2021: Brumbies star Len Ikitau scores twice to mount Wallabies claims, report, scores, Andy Murihead


After their heartbreaking 42-40 Australian classic derby defeat to the Reds a fortnight ago it was suggested in some quarters that Dan McKellar’s Brumbies were on the wane.

Brad Thorn’s baby Reds had well and truly grown out of their nappies and they were the new bullies in town, having ended their seven-year drought in the nation’s capital.

Well, the Brumbies put those ridiculous claims to bed on Friday night as they smashed the Force 42-14 in Canberra to temporarily move back to the top of the Super Rugby AU standings.

McKellar’s men dominated every facet of the game and had more than 70 per cent of possession and 80 per cent of territory in the first half, which saw them take a 28-0 lead into half-time.

Ironically, however, it was their rolling maul – dare those ‘dreaded’ two words be mentioned following Wayne Smith’s retirement – that had the least impact.

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Super Rugby AU 2021: Brumbies star Len Ikitau scores twice to mount Wallabies claims, report, scores, Andy Murihead


After their heartbreaking 42-40 Australian classic derby defeat to the Reds a fortnight ago it was suggested in some quarters that Dan McKellar’s Brumbies were on the wane.

Brad Thorn’s baby Reds had well and truly grown out of their nappies and they were the new bullies in town, having ended their seven-year drought in the nation’s capital.

Well, the Brumbies put those ridiculous claims to bed on Friday night as they smashed the Force 42-14 in Canberra to temporarily move back to the top of the Super Rugby AU standings.

McKellar’s men dominated every facet of the game and had more than 70 per cent of possession and 80 per cent of territory in the first half, which saw them take a 28-0 lead into half-time.

Ironically, however, it was their rolling maul – dare those ‘dreaded’ two words be mentioned following Wayne Smith’s retirement – that had the least impact.

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Why Dave Rennie should pick Seru Uru, Len Ikitau, Josh Kemeny and Andy Muirhead for Wallabies


Uru does the tight stuff in the middle of the park just as well as the fun stuff in the 15m channels. His set piece work and physicality in defence has been good and he is someone who would take huge benefit from an extended time in a Wallabies environment.

Len Ikitau (Brumbies)

Probably the most obvious. Ikitau has been excellent for the Brumbies. In attack running right to left, with a left arm carry, right arm fend combination he has been destructive. He has also been making good decisions in the most challenging defensive position of them all, outside centre.

Len Ikitau takes the ball up against the Reds.

Len Ikitau takes the ball up against the Reds.Credit:Getty Images

A role where context, communication and understanding of opposition and teammates strengths and weaknesses all influence an apparently simple tackle. A left boot is always handy for balance in a backline and his deft grubber try assist against the Waratahs stands out as another string to his bow. He is young, so patience is required but an exciting prospect.

I’d love to see him spend Sunday to Wednesday with the Wallabies throughout the year then, if not selected, head back to club training for Thursday night and play club on Saturdays.

Josh Kemeny (Rebels)

The most left-field of my picks. Kemeny has impressed with quality and consistency of performance this year. He has the athletic attributes to succeed at both Super Rugby and the level above.

Melbourne Rebels flanker Josh Kemeny has made big strides this year.

Melbourne Rebels flanker Josh Kemeny has made big strides this year.Credit:Gerard McLenaghan/Melbourne Rebels

Fit, fast, skillful and improving every time he steps out, Kemeny’s performances in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman matches will determine whether the bridge to the demands of Test rugby is still too far. A run by the Rebels to the finals, and dominant backrow performances against direct rivals won’t hurt either. In representing the Junior Wallabies he has played and train with many of Australian Rugby’s Generation Next.

Andy Muirhead (Brumbies)

The best performing right winger in the competition. Marika Koroibete has the left wing spot locked in. Filipo Daugunu plays (exceptionally well) on the left wing for the Reds and changes may well be made to accommodate him at the Wallabies selection table.

Andy Muirhead on the attack for the Brumbies.

Andy Muirhead on the attack for the Brumbies.Credit:Getty Images

Perhaps most of all the shadow of Suliasi Vunivalu looms large, but on performance not potential Andy Muirhead deserves the opportunity to come into Wallabies camp and state his case for selection.

Muirhead is second only to Koroibete in defenders beaten across the competition. What is also impressive that the backfield coverage and defensive roles required.

To be his size and succeed at Test level is not a given but at the moment his irrepressible form demands that the Wallabies find out.

The Wallaby camp in two week’s time will be as much about getting fitted for the jersey as finding players who fit the jersey. The second half of Super Rugby AU will uncover and confirm who those chosen few will be.

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Six Nations 2021: Ireland coach Andy Farrell vindicated, England coach Eddie Jones feeling heat after defeat


Andy Farrell basked in the most impressive victory since he took over as Ireland head coach saying the 32-18 Six Nations win over England proved they were on the right track.

Farrell’s side out-thought and out-fought an England side captained by his son Owen to end in emphatic fashion a run of four straight defeats to the same opponents.

Farrell was in overall charge for the last two in 2020, but he said he had not been put off course by those losses in where he wanted to take the Irish.

Ireland finished this Six Nations with three successive wins having lost their opening two narrowly, to Wales and France.

“To get that result against a very good side like England reiterates we are on the right track,” he said.



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The Cube host Andy Lee sets realistic goals for 2021


He’s been a top-rated radio host, TV star, podcast ace and the freshly minted host of Network 10’s new game show, The Cube — and often he’s most of those things at the same time — so clearly downtime isn’t something that comes naturally to Andy Lee.

Still, the Hamish and Andy comedian and media all-rounder says he’s still found time to reflect upon 2020 and articulate the greatest lesson he learned during what was, in basic terms, a complete mess of a year.

The ultimate piece of wisdom the 39-year-old gleaned?

“You really don’t need that much toilet paper in a pandemic,” he says.

Although he’s got a hectic, mostly Hamish-free year ahead of him — he’s also an executive producer on The Cube — Lee already has a few easily achievable goals lined up for the remainder of 2021. And for once, his health and fitness goals are something we can all aspire to.

“I’m into setting realistic goals,” Lee says.

“So I think it would be wise for me to consume slightly less beer.”

Besides dodging the booze, also on the agenda is finally adding to his frequent-flyer point balance with long-term partner Rebecca Harding.

“I can’t wait to travel again,” he says.

“At first supporting Australian tourism with some trips in Oz, and then hopefully getting across the ditch to New Zealand to enjoy some Steinlagers from a chilly bin in some jandals.”

Despite all the responsibilities and engagements that come from being a multi-hyphenate, multimedia personality, Lee says he still always finds time for some mindfulness and relaxation in his busy schedule — even if it winds up creating more stress for him.

“Meditation, mindfulness, relaxation – golf provides me all of these things,” he says.

“The phone goes off and into my bag and then there are four hours of taking out frustration on a small plastic ball, while concurrently building frustration with how inaccurately I’m hitting said ball.”

Maybe he’ll need those extra beers after all.

* The Cube with Andy Lee airs Wednesdays at 7.30p, on Channel 10.

ANDY LEE ON …

Diet

“Beer was my main staple. Thankfully, Bec has come along and changed those ingrained policies. We now try to do two vegetarian meals a week and only drink on weekends. This adjustment has really improved things.”

Exercise

“I’m a fan of golf, but I also like a kick of the footy with mates. Anything that doesn’t feel like exercise really appeals to me.”

Routine

“Sadly, I don’t have great advice to share here. Bec and I eat at 9.30pm most nights and go to bed at 1am, which I really don’t think is a good routine.”

Life motto

“Toast a sandwich when you can.”

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Liverpool 0-1 Chelsea: Reds ‘cannot rely on the past’ – Andy Robertson


Mason Mount has three goals in eight Premier League appearances under Thomas Tuchel, after scoring two in 18 under previous boss Frank Lampard this season

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson says they cannot “rely on the past” after Chelsea inflicted a fifth successive competitive home defeat on the reigning Premier League champions for the first time in their history to leave them battling to make the top four.

Mason Mount’s superb individual strike three minutes before half-time gave the visitors a deserved win and extend their unbeaten run under boss Thomas Tuchel to 10 games.

It moved them into the top four, while Liverpool are now in seventh place and in a serious dogfight for the Champions League places.

The Reds, who won the title last season by 18 points, had gone 68 home league matches unbeaten before their current was started with a loss to Burnley in January.

“Last season is over with, it is done,” Robertson told Sky Sports. “We have nowhere near been good enough to what Liverpool team should be. We are dropping further and it is not good enough.

“Games are running out and we need to put the pressure on the teams below us. People will think we are down and out and we need to get the results to show them we are not. At the moment we are not doing that.

“We can’t rely on the past.”

Mount scored brilliantly when he cut inside to fire a low shot past Liverpool keeper Alisson, reward for a first half dominated by the Blues, who also had a Timo Werner effort ruled out for offside.

Liverpool, for whom a visibly angry Mohamed Salah was substituted just after the hour, barely threatened but were furious when penalty claims were rejected by the video assistant referee after Roberto Firmino’s cross clearly struck N’Golo Kante’s hand.

Alisson had to save well from the lively Werner, but one goal was enough to give Chelsea and Tuchel another fine victory as they move four points ahead of the Reds.

“You saw the game – it was a tight one, it was a close one, it was an intense one,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told BBC Sport. “We forced them to make mistakes, they forced us to make mistakes. They used one, we didn’t use ours.

“Against Chelsea, it would be surprising to play them off the pitch – but we were in the game. It is just annoying to talk about the same things again and again. It is tough. We have to fight through this.”

Tuchel’s Anfield win tastes sweet

Tuchel’s beaming smile and congratulations for his Chelsea players will have carried an added tinge of pleasure as he finally experienced victory at Anfield.

Tuchel has suffered last-minute losses at the stadium in a Europa League quarter-final with Borussia Dortmund and then in a subsequent Champions League game with Paris St-Germain.

He and Chelsea were not to be denied here, though, and while Liverpool will debate why they were not awarded that second-half penalty, no-one could seriously question the fact that the visitors were vastly superior to the beleaguered champions as they fall hard and fast from last season’s status.

Tuchel has had a rejuvenating impact on Chelsea since succeeding the sacked Frank Lampard in January, and victories like this – albeit against a Liverpool team who appear to be a sitting duck at Anfield these days – will increase confidence and belief.

Mount deserved his goal for a performance of the highest quality, while Kante looked back to his best as he patrolled midfield.

Werner gave one of his finest displays since joining Chelsea and deserved a goal of his own, while Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger performed with such efficiency in defence that Liverpool did not have an effort on target until Georginio Wijnaldum’s tame 84th-minute header.

All in all, it was an excellent night’s work for Tuchel and Chelsea.

“I am very, very happy with the performance,” said Tuchel. “It was clear we needed a complete performance in all aspects of the game. We did this, we were very brave with the ball and never lost intensity with the ball.

“We were always aggressive and very brave. This was the key. It was a top team performance and a deserved win.

“Both teams started in a high level of speed and intensity. We knew that. We told the team we don’t want to give too much information. When you arrive in a match like this you cannot overthink it.

“We managed all situations very, very good. Very, very encouraging.”

Liverpool and Klopp plunge further into crisis

The statistics surrounding Liverpool’s slump are stacking around them like rubble as they suffered another defeat in this truly desperate Premier League title defence.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have created unwanted history with those five defeats, they have not scored from open play in more than 10 hours at Anfield – a shocking run emphasised by the fact they only lost four matches here in the first five years and three months of the German’s tenure.

Nothing summed up their current condition than the sight of the clearly infuriated and mystified Salah reacting in very discontented fashion after his substitution in the 62nd minute.

Liverpool will plead their case for that penalty but this cannot disguise yet another stale, limp Anfield display in the arena where they carried such a fear factor for years.

It has disappeared, as Burnley – who ended that 68-match unbeaten home league run – Brighton, Manchester City, Everton and now Chelsea have proved.

Liverpool face a serious fight to finish in the top four, with neighbours Everton three points ahead of the champions in fifth with a game in hand.

These are statements that would have been barely believable at the start of the season, but this is Liverpool’s brutal new reality.

Liverpool’s unwanted history – the best of the stats

  • Liverpool have become the first English top-flight reigning champions to lose five consecutive home league games.
  • Since Tuchel took charge of his first league game as Chelsea boss on 27 January, only Manchester City (24) have picked up more points than the Blues during his eight games as manager (18). Tuchel’s predecessor Lampard took seven points from his final eight games in charge.
  • Liverpool have just 10 points from 11 Premier League games in 2021 – only West Brom (nine), Newcastle (seven) and Southampton (four) have picked up fewer points since the turn of the year.
  • Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy has kept 12 clean sheets in 22 Premier League starts (55%). Of the 210 goalkeepers to have started at least 10 games in the competition, he is the only one to keep a clean sheet in more than half.
  • Mount has scored 12 and assisted eight goals in the Premier League for Chelsea. At 22 years 53 days, he is the second-youngest player to reach 20 goals and assists for the club in the competition after their former winger Arjen Robben (21 years 337 days).
  • Liverpool’s Salah was substituted in the 62nd minute – the only time he was been taken off earlier in a Premier League game at Anfield was for Chelsea against the Reds in April 2014 (60th minute).

What’s next?

Liverpool are at home again on Sunday, with struggling Fulham the visitors for a 14:00 GMT kick-off. Chelsea are in action the next day, with another top-four challenger, Everton, the visitors to Stamford Bridge at 18:00.

Player of the match

ChristensenAndreas Christensen

Chelsea

  1. Squad number4Player nameChristensen

  2. Squad number19Player nameMount

  3. Squad number11Player nameWerner

  4. Squad number7Player nameKanté

  5. Squad number2Player nameRüdiger

  6. Squad number28Player nameAzpilicueta

  7. Squad number16Player nameMendy

  8. Squad number24Player nameJames

  9. Squad number5Player nameJorginho

  10. Squad number21Player nameChilwell

  11. Squad number10Player namePulisic

  12. Squad number17Player nameKovacic

  13. Squad number22Player nameZiyech

  14. Squad number29Player nameHavertz

Line-ups

Liverpool

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Alisson
  • 66Alexander-Arnold
  • 3Fabinho
  • 19Kabak
  • 26Robertson
  • 6Thiago AlcántaraSubstituted forMilnerat 80′minutes
  • 5Wijnaldum
  • 17JonesSubstituted forJotaat 62′minutes
  • 11SalahSubstituted forOxlade-Chamberlainat 62′minutes
  • 9Firmino
  • 10Mané

Substitutes

  • 7Milner
  • 8Keita
  • 13Adrián
  • 15Oxlade-Chamberlain
  • 20Jota
  • 23Shaqiri
  • 27Origi
  • 46R Williams
  • 76N Williams

Chelsea

Formation 3-4-2-1

  • 16Mendy
  • 28Azpilicueta
  • 4Christensen
  • 2Rüdiger
  • 24James
  • 7Kanté
  • 5Jorginho
  • 21Chilwell
  • 22ZiyechSubstituted forPulisicat 66′minutes
  • 19MountSubstituted forKovacicat 81′minutes
  • 11WernerSubstituted forHavertzat 90+1′minutes

Substitutes

  • 1Arrizabalaga
  • 3Alonso
  • 10Pulisic
  • 15Zouma
  • 17Kovacic
  • 18Giroud
  • 20Hudson-Odoi
  • 29Havertz
  • 33Emerson

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Gov. Andy Beshear declares state of emergency


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Andy Capp – 27th February 2021


Andy Capp has been a favourite part of the Daily Mirror since 1957. Enjoy the adventures of Andy Capp and wife Flo every day.



See previous Andy Capp’s or visit his Facebook page.



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Andy Murray couldn’t watch the Melbourne grand slam such was his pain on missing out


Asked for his verdict on Novak Djokovic’s straight-sets win over Daniil Medvedev in Melbourne on Sunday, Murray said: “I didn’t watch it. I was practising and I watched very little of the Australian Open. I didn’t watch any because I wanted to be there myself. It was a struggle. I stopped following all the tennis players I follow on social media because I just didn’t want to see it.”

Absent from nine of the past 13 grand slams, a bullish Murray is itching for the opportunity to prove he can still compete with the best in the world, insisting he was “pain-free” during his recent run to the final in Italy.

“I’ve played and practised with lots of top players and I know how I’m getting on against them,” Murray said. “If I was getting smoked when I was practising and playing with guys I wouldn’t keep going through it. But I know the level that I’m playing at.

“I’ve been playing and practising with guys that are between 20 and 60-70 in the world and doing absolutely fine. Providing I can stay fit for a period of time and get good practice and matches in, I don’t see why I won’t be able to compete with the best players. I wish I was able to show that in Australia because, no question, I was ready to do that.”

Having already spoken of his frustration at believing he contracted coronavirus at the National Tennis Centre in London, Murray also revealed the continued difficulty the illness – from which he has fully recovered – provides as he attempts to travel from country to country for tournaments, at the mercy of different regulations.

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