Ford star Cameron Waters targets V8 crown, Kayo freebies


Supercars championship runner-up Cameron Waters has declared he has the “whole package” behind him this year as he sets his sights on departing triple-champion Scott McLaughlin’s throne.

Coming off a career-best 2020 when he claimed a podium finish in the Bathurst 1000 to elevate himself to second in the drivers’ championship behind fellow Ford ace McLaughlin, Waters looms as the heir apparent to the Supercars crown.

The 26-year-old Tickford Racing star had not finished higher than seventh in the drivers’ standings, but started to capitalise on his talent last year when he claimed nine podiums to emerge as a serious title contender.

After three consecutive Supercars championship wins, McLaughlin has left the V8 series to race IndyCar for Team Penske in the United States.

Ahead of the season-opening Bathurst 500 next month, which will be available to stream live and free on Kayo Sports, Waters said he was determined to go one step further in the championship this year.

“If you come second you only want to get better so for me it’s to try and go for the championship,” Waters said.

“I don’t really see it as ‘Scott leaving – that’s an opportunity’. You have to beat everyone. “Triple Eight are going to be really strong this year and I think Walkinshaws as well will step up and DJR (Dick Johnson Racing) are always going to be fast.

“It’s still going to be a tough year if Scott was there or not.

“For me it’s just keep trying to improve and do a better job in the car … do that and hopefully get to the other end of the year with a trophy.”

Waters, entering his sixth full season with the Ford squad, finished second in the Bathurst 1000 last year with Will Davison behind Triple Eight’s Shane van Gisbergen and Garth Tander after claiming pole position in the top-10 shootout.

He felt the team, which has downsized from four to three cars for 2021, took major strides forward last year and was ready to take another step this season

“It was a great year for us, a good step up from previous years,” Waters said.

“Previous years we qualified well but just couldn’t really convert to race results and I think that’s something that we did great in 2020 and found a little bit of a happier spot with the car.

“Our second half of the year was really good and Bathurst was awesome, we had a lot of car speed there. It really puts us in a good spot for 2021 I think.

“Tickford probably had a little bit of a lull in 2016 and ‘18 and we have really rebuilt from then. The team at Tickford are really on song now and we are all as motivated as ever to try and get out there and win. I feel like we have got the whole package.”

Waters will have a new Mustang for the start of the 2021 campaign, which roars to life at Mount Panorama on February 26-28.

“It’s going to be different going there in February, obviously it’s going to be a lot hotter. The track temp is really critical there,” Waters, promoting the launch of Kayo Freebies, said.

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“When it’s cold it’s really fast and when it’s hot, it’s super greasy. So being the first event, I feel like there could be a few mistakes up there and a few crashes.

“So it will be really critical to get through that first event with some points and get onto the next one.

“It will be cool to go to Bathurst with that format and see what the racing is like and how we all handle it. I don’t think it will take anything away from the 1000 that’s for sure.

“It’s awesome Kayo are bringing out the freebies so you can watch Bathurst (500) without a subscription which is absolutely awesome and it will be the first of many.”

KAYO FREEBIES

* Kayo Sports has announced the launch of Kayo Freebies, making a selection of live sports, entertainment shows and documentaries available for free.

* Kayo Freebies will launch with the season-opening Supercars event at the iconic Mount Panorma circuit – the Bathurst 500 – starting on February 26.

* Selected A-League and W-League games will also be available as Kayo Freebies with more Freebies to be announced in the coming weeks.

* Freebies will have new live events each month, regular live games from selected sports together with replays, Kayo Minis and special events featuring documentaries and classics matches.

* Kayo Freebies are available to stream online through kayosports.com.au and the Kayo Sports App. Sports fans can access Kayo Freebies by downloading the Kayo App and creating an account.

* Kayo Freebies are free and no credit card details are required to sign up and start streaming.

Sign up to Kayo here

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NRL 2021: Brandon Smith release, Melbourne Storm, Harry Grant, hooker, Craig Bellamy, Cameron Smith retirement


Melbourne Storm star Brandon Smith has opened up on the reasons behind his pending release and how coach Craig Bellamy responded to his shock request.

The Storm confirmed in December that Smith had been “given approval to explore opportunities with other NRL clubs” for the 2022 season — the final year of his contract.

It’s understood the Bulldogs, Titans, Broncos and Wests Tigers have all expressed interest in the fiery hooker’s services, however Melbourne will require a player of similar standard in return in order to let him go.

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Round 1

The 24-year-old has played understudy to skipper Cameron Smith ever since he joined in the club in 2017. It was expected he would one day inherit the famous Storm No.9 jersey once his namesake retired but after Harry Grant’s sublime season, the curious case of Melbourne’s next hooker isn’t so clear-cut anymore.

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Cameron Green is learning his lessons at the right time


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With the possible exception of Will Pucovski, seldom has more expectation accompanied a recent Australian debutant than that experienced by Cameron Green.

He had undoubtedly scored the runs to warrant his place at such a young age, cracking comfortably more than 1000 with four sizeable centuries in his most recent 12 Sheffield Shield games. Green also carried the promise of a possibly dominant allrounder having first been chosen by Western Australia as a bowler and scooping plenty of wickets before he was held prisoner by a series of back problems.

Add to this the prospect of starting out in the highest of high-profile Test series against India, and there was much for Green to take in, even before he took the batting and bowling creases. What spectators and viewers have seen of Green in the subsequent four matches is a player of enormous promise, undoubtedly, but one still smoothing the rough edges of his game with the bat and even more so with the ball.

He has, as Simon Katich observed during his breakout innings of 84 at the SCG, “two gears”, those of stolid defence and then a much more freewheeling and powerful hitting game. The nuances of Test cricket require a range of different gears at many points in between those poles, as aptly demonstrated on the penultimate day of the series.

Green walked out to accompany a settled Steven Smith when Australia had just lost the fourth wicket of the morning session, Matthew Wade glancing into Rishabh Pants gloves and perhaps into history as far as his stop-start Test career is concerned. The Gabba surface, which has rewarded tight bowling throughout the match, had begun to deteriorate further in terms of the widening of existing cracks and the forming of new ones, while Mohammad Siraj was putting in yet another outstanding spell.

Perhaps genuflecting to Smith, who with every hour of this series has looked more like his usual Test match self and must now be looking forward to rejoining battle with South Africa three years since the unseemly events of 2018, Green concentrated almost solely on survival through his first 41 balls, managing only six singles in that time. He may also have been run out by his very first ball, edging Washington Sundar towards the covers and being reprieved on his instinctive dash for a single by the fact that the bowler was off-balance in retrieving it.

This period underlined that, at this developmental point, Green is still liable to be tied down by good bowling without the ability as yet to find unseen corners of the field in which to escape the strikes with singles or more forcefully turn the scoreboard over with twos. This meant that Smith, playing far more positively, took the major share of responsibility in the early part of their stand to ensure the scoring rate did not dip below three an over with time and the unpromising weather forecast on Australian minds.

A view pushed consistently by Greg Chappell down the years and now more widely understood, is the value of getting gifted players into the Australian side early on, the better for them to learn many of the required lessons at the highest possible level and thus mature as quickly as possible without gaining too many bad habits. It was the same philosophy that saw Smith himself make his Test debut for Australia as early as a 21-year-old in 2010 before ironing out the deficiencies in his game rapidly enough to be an international force by the age of 24.

So it should follow that, much as Smith has worked his way into this series, Green will be able to evolve in a timely fashion in his Test career. “I certainly feel as though I’ve got better as the series has gone on, just purely out of spending time in the middle that’s for sure,” Smith said.

“I think I said after Melbourne the longest I’d spent in the middle was 63 balls or whatever it was, the one-day hundreds that I scored at the SCG, and that was for about 12 months. So certainly been able to spend a good amount of time in the first innings in Sydney playing with really positive intent. That made me feel a lot more comfortable at the crease and able to find some rhythm.

“I thought [Green] batted really well. They bowled pretty well to him to be fair, the wicket was starting to do a few things. I reckon there was that one over from Natarajan where he copped a few, that’s where the wicket started to sort of play a few more tricks. I think he got five balls in that over that did probably five different things.”

The other half of Green’s game, still taking time to unfold in the wake of back stress fractures, is that of a pace bowler who has the natural gifts of height and trajectory with which to worry most top players should he get all the mechanics into a sound enough order. This much was neatly summarised by Damien Fleming earlier in the Test, with the understanding that a bowler concentrating on technical form and changes to ensure the avoidance of future injuries will always take time to “groove” an action before full fluency returns.

“He bowls full and definitely shapes the ball away from the right-hand batsmen,” Fleming said on Seven. “His first Test match in Adelaide, I think it was deliberate for him to bowl short to Virat Kohli. Now since that Test Match, I think he has bowled a fraction short, hasn’t given that red Kookaburra enough time to swing in the air. I think it’s due, isn’t it? Your fourth Test match, get your first Test wicket?

“He’s made changes to his action because of stress fractures. He’s come into this series with hundreds of runs in Sheffield Shield so his batting technique is grooved, but unfortunately, he is still trying to groove this bowling action which over time is only going to benefit himself and the Australian cricket team. But, you know, four-over spells in Shield cricket coming into this Test series, I don’t think he has built the confidence in his action yet.”

That sort of confidence may be derived from a wicket or two, and this was certainly something Smith had in mind as he looked at some of the widening cracks at the Gabba. “All the boys have been really impressed with him around the group, the way he’s handled everything as a young kid coming into play Test cricket,” Smith said of Green.

“I think tomorrow he might actually be quite a handful with the ball, with that extra height and those cracks coming into play, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him firstly take his first wicket in Test cricket, which I know he’s pretty eager to get, but I think he might just be in for a pretty reasonable day.”

If Green has not dominated moments of this series in the manner of India’s find Siraj, he has shown enough poise at a young age to suggest that the formative lessons of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy will be converted into truly influential displays well before he reaches the age at which Smith finally felt at home as a Test cricketer.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

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NRL 2021: pre-season training updates, Tesi Niu at centre, Brisbane Broncos, Kotoni Staggs injury, Kevin Walters, Melbourne Storm captain, Cameron Smith, Ryan Papenhuyzen


With just under two months to go until the 2021 season kicks off, teams are starting to take shape.

Some players face the challenge of a positional switch while new recruits focus on locking down a starting spot at their new club.

Now is the time for a coach to experiment with his team to find the strongest combinations and further develop new skills amongst their squads. That’s exactly what the likes of Broncos coach Kevin Walters and Dragons coach Anthony Griffin are doing.

Meanwhile, with Cameron Smith not attending pre-season training, life without the legendary skipper has started to set in… but who will have the little ‘c’ next to their name now?

Round 1

Read on for the latest around the grounds teams update in our Pre-season Diary.

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Hawkins keen to build Cameron partnership


Geelong star Tom Hawkins is already relishing the prospect of playing alongside boom recruit Jeremy Cameron in a new-look forward line this AFL season.

The Cats paid a hefty price at the trade table for former GWS spearhead Cameron in order to boost their flag hopes in 2021 and beyond, having finished runner-up to Richmond last year.

On paper, the 27-year-old looks set to form a formidable partnership with fellow Coleman Medal winner Hawkins.

But plenty rests on the key forwards’ ability to form a relationship on-field before the new season begins in March.

“We trained together yesterday as a forward group and we will continue to work as a whole on our patterns and synergy together,” Hawkins told reporters on Tuesday.

“We’re both very different players, he’s more agile and leaner than me but at the same time he is really powerful.

“I’d say we will both get a look deep and we’ll both get up the ground at stages.”

Geelong lost Gary Ablett and Harry Taylor to retirement after last year’s heartbreaking grand final defeat.

But the arrival of Cameron and fellow experienced recruits Isaac Smith (Hawthorn) and Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne) has sparked expectations of another genuine flag tilt this season.

And the Cats are not shying away from the hype.

“I think you have no other choice but to embrace it,” Hawkins said.

“We are well aware that the expectation of playing in a grand final, which ultimately we lost, and bringing in some experience means there will be external pressure.

“Internally we haven’t spoken about it yet but the majority of the list arrived last Wednesday and we want to win a premiership.

“That is our ultimate goal, so we will embrace the challenge that is in front of us.”

Elsewhere, former North Melbourne forward Mason Wood has started training with St Kilda in the hope of earning a career lifeline.

Clubs are still able to add players during the pre-season supplemental selection period, which ends on March 9.

There will also be a mid-season rookie draft in June.





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Ricky Ponting, Mathew Wade, Cameron Green, cricket news 2021


Matthew Wade’s temperament has come under question after the Australian batsman’s “reckless” dismissal against India at the SCG.

Australia was on track for a large first innings total on Friday before Wade needlessly threw away his wicket in the 77th over.

Facing Ravindra Jadeja, Wade looked to attack the Indian spinner by charging down the pitch, but only managed to spoon a regulation catch to Jasprit Bumrah at mid-on.

It was an ugly dismissal from the 33-year-old, which understandably resulted in a flood of criticism from commentators and fans.

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As pointed out by former Australian batsman Mark Waugh, it was almost identical to Wade’s wicket in the first innings of the Boxing Day Test.

“It’s a poor dismissal, the same as in Melbourne,” Waugh said on Fox Cricket.

“It’s a Test match there’s no need to do that. It’s good to be aggressive but if the balls not there then you’ve got to pull out of the shot and knock it down for one.

“It was a nothing dismissal, you have got to do better than that. He was being a little too aggressive. Your shot selection has got to be better than that, you are gifting your wicket.”

LIVE BLOG: Australia vs India third Test

Former Test spinner Kerry O’Keeffe added: “Matthew Wade was undone as he was in Melbourne by Ashwin’s flight. He advanced, he wasn’t to the pitch and it was an ugly slice across the line.

“There’s a difference between being busy and reckless and he was busy while he there, but that was a reckless shot.”

Wade’s departure brought the inexperienced Cameron Green to the crease, and the 21-year-old was soon subjected to a tough passage of play against the new ball.

Green was dismissed by Indian seamer Jasprit Bumrah for a duck moments before the lunch interval, trapped in front LBW by a delivery which dipped past the inside edge of his bat.

Former Australian Test captain Ricky Ponting promptly accused Wade of lacking match awareness, arguing the left-hander was partially responsible for Green’s wicket.

“Matthew Wade needs to have a lot more game awareness,” Ponting said on Channel 7.

“What he’s done by getting out is expose Cameron Green to the new ball, a guy in his third Test, and for mine that is just not thinking enough about the situation of the game.”

Former Australian batsman Michael Hussey elaborated on Fox Cricket: “He’s just giving his wicket away, they are low percentage shots.

“He exposed Cameron Green to the new ball just before lunch.”

READ MORE: Ponting’s 12-year wait for ‘special’ talent

Wade has now failed to reach fifty in 11 consecutive Test innings, each of which were on home soil.

The Tasmanian was arguably on the verge of losing his spot in the Test side this week, but national selectors opted to axe teammate Travis Head instead.

Some pundits have already questioned whether selectors made the right call, considering Wade averages 30.66 in Test cricket while Head averages 39.75.

Former Australian paceman Jason Gillespie conceded he was bemused to discover Head had been dropped from the starting XI.

“I just feel he always seems to be the one that’s questioned,” Gillespie told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

“That’s a frustration. He’s averaging 40 in Test cricket after 19 Test matches. Mark Waugh played 127 games and averaged 41. Why is Travis under such scrutiny? I find it staggering.”



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NRL 2021: David Fifita escapes sanction from Gold Coast Titans over Christmas arrest, Cameron Smith interest cools


David Fifita will not be sanctioned by the Gold Coast Titans after a run-in with police during the Christmas period.

Fifita was arrested after allegations of trespassing incident on December 27 at a Gold Coast home.

The 20-year-old was released without charge in what was his second off-season incident in the space of a year.

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Round 1

During the 2019 break, Fifita was jailed in Bali and had to be escorted home by a staffer from his former club, the Broncos.

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NRL 2021: Melbourne Storm Harry Grant; Cameron Smith retirement, Brandon Smith


Dally M Rookie of the Year Harry Grant has joined his teammates at Melbourne Storm’s pre-season as speculation over Cameron Smith’s future continues to drag on.

The Storm were back at AAMI Park for the first time in over six months and immediately began preparations for life without their talismanic captain.

Smith has yet to make a decision on his future despite appearing to farewell Suncorp Stadium during a lap of honour following the Storm’s win against Canberra Raiders in the 2020 finals.

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Round 1
Grant returns to the Storm after spending 2020 on loan to the Wests TigersSource: Getty Images

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Harry Grant keeps aiming high as Storm move forward without Cameron Smith


Smith is yet to declare his plans but the club is preparing to play without him unless they hear otherwise.

Grant meanwhile is preparing as if he will be Storm’s starting hooker although teammate Brandon Smith is also pushing for that role after playing as a utility forward in recent seasons.

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“I think he is still on his book tour,” Grant joked when asked about Cameron Smith.

“Smithy has a few more weeks [on his usual break time] and then we will go from there.”

Grant is under contract with Melbourne and said he expected to be with the club all season regardless of the premiership skipper’s plans.

The majority of the Storm’s New South Wales-based players were able to rush back to Victoria before the border was closed, with Grant stating Finucane took 17 hours to drive from Bega to Melbourne.

State of Origin winger Josh Addo-Carr remains in NSW as he has two more weeks of leave. The club is believed to be seeking an exemption for him and his family to return, as under current restrictions he would need to quarantine for 14 days.

“A fair few of them had to make a dash, I think a few are still unknown with what the go is,” Grant said. “I’m sure they will sort it out in the next few days.”

Brandon Smith was reportedly looking at potential moves for 2022 to a club that needs a starting hooker, but Grant wants him to stay.

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“It will be up to the coaches. Competition is good for the squad and makes everyone train a bit harder and perform better,” Grant said.

“Me and Brandon have a pretty good relationship, it’s up to Craig [Bellamy]. Let’s see how we go.

“I think most of the boys will be [telling him to stay] but it’s up to him and his family.”

Grant had a stellar 2020 with the Tigers, winning Dally M Rookie of the Year and earning his debut for Queensland. He returns to Melbourne with more experience along with the drive to play in a premiership after watching the club win the title.

“It was pretty special watching the boys win the comp, especially with all they have been through in being away from Victoria and based on the Sunshine Coast. It’s credit to the whole squad,” Grant said.

“I wasn’t really a part of it so I’m looking forward to building towards it throughout this season.”

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NRL 2021: New Zealand Warriors, CEO Cameron George, open letter to fans, relocating to Australia, COVID-19


Warriors CEO Cameron George has penned a passionate letter to the club’s supporters ahead of their relocation to Australia.

The NRL’s only New Zealand-based outfit spent the last year away from home, relocating to the Central Coast to ensure the 2020 COVID-19 affected season went ahead.

Some of the players were fortunate enough to have their families move over from New Zealand but others including star wingers David Fusitua’a and Ken Maumalo went back to Auckland as their New Zealand-native partners were not permitted an exemption to move to Australia.

The Warriors will endure a similar scenario when they land in Australia this week to ramp up their pre-season preparations.

Round 1

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