Sebastian Vettel hair line, reaction, receding, social media, Eddie Jordan, Ferrari, Aston Martin first look


It’s clear that the 2020 season for Sebastian Vettel took its toll but F1 fans have caught a glimpse of just how hard it was on the German star.

A four-time World Champion with Red Bull before joining Ferrari, Vettel’s Ferrari career largely coincided with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ dominance.

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Hamilton has won six of the last seven World Championships with his former Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg winning the other title.

While Vettel had been Hamilton’s chief competition for the best part of that run, he began to slip over the past two seasons as he finished fifth in 2019 and 13th in 2020, as Ferrari slipped from second to sixth in the constructors championship.

2020 was a disaster for the team and Vettel as he claimed just a single podium and seven points finishes in the 18 races.

But having moved to Aston Martin, who are the renamed Racing Point team from last season, the first look at Vettel has given fans a bit of a start with the 33-year-old sporting a rapidly receding hairline.

There was no way F1 fans were going to let such a massive change pass without comment.

Some said he likely had hair transplant surgery, while others said he was looking a bit like Prince William.

In fact, Prince William was trending in the UK but there were mainly pictures of Vettel.

So F1 fans had fun online.

Despite the tough finish to his time at Ferrari, Vettel has refused to blame the team.

The German star showed nothing but class as he left Ferrari despite it being a shockingly bad season.

Although he had some run ins with teammate Charles Leclerc, he sent a heartfelt message after the last race in Abu Dhabi.

“To Charles, you are the most talented driver I came across in 15 years of F1,” Vettel wrote.

“Don’t waste it. Whatever you do to be happy and smile. Thanks for everything.”

It is part of the reason why former Jordan boss Eddie Jordan believes that Vettel can help teammate Lance Stroll reach his potential, who the 72-year-old says is a World Championship.

“We were all maybe thinking ‘is that the right thing with Lance?’, and you’d have to say that Lance’s speed is undoubted now,” Jordan told The Race.

“You have to look at him as a driver that sometimes he doesn’t always show his speed as much as he should, or can do.

“He has enormous talent. And he has the speed to be a World Champion, he really, really does.

“But what I would like to see is more consistency. You go to a race and I’m not sure what I’m likely to see from Lance.

“I think Vettel coming can help them to do that. I think that Vettel may spur him on, just like Vettel spurred on Leclerc.

“And it could be that you might find a completely different driver in Lance Stroll this year.”

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Eddie Jones learns from cycling boss


England head coach Eddie Jones admits to being embarrassed by the brilliance of Sir Dave Brailsford when talking to the cycling supremo in advance of rugby union’s Six Nations.

Ex-Wallabies metor Jones recently attended coaches’ meetings alongside Brailsford and former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and while each provided valuable insights into performance at the highest level, it was the former who really stood out.

Brailsford is general manager of cycling outfit Ineos Grenadiers, formerly known as Team Sky, and has presided over an unparalleled era of British success both on the road and in the velodrome.

“I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of conferences with Dave Brailsford and Arsene Wenger, particularly Brailsford,” Jones said.

“I feel embarrassed being at the same table as him. His thought pattern and the way he thinks about preparation and how to take a team forward were absolutely outstanding.

“I have been lucky enough to learn from those two guys. Arsene – he has got a wealth of experience in how you manage teams and how the longer you stay in the job, what you have got to do to keep your team growing. I picked up a couple of ideas from him.”

England open their Six Nations title defence against Scotland at Twickenham on February 6, by which point they will already have been in their bio-secure environment for 10 days.

‘Bubble fatigue’ has caused difficulties in cricket and with Owen Farrell’s champions facing long chunks of the next eight weeks in camp under stricter coronavirus protocols than in the autumn, Jones will carefully observe his players’ wellbeing while acknowledging the good fortune of still being able to take part in the competition.

“It’s an important point and we will continually have to monitor that,” said Jones, who is currently self-isolating after his forwards coach Matt Proudfoot tested positive for Covid-19.

“You can see in most elite sports at the moment that fatigue is a factor. A lot of players have come off no pre-season.

“They’ve had back-to-back seasons and it’s quite oppressive conditions, but we have got to have a smile on our faces because we are lucky to be able to play our sport, to play at elite level. We are just so grateful to play.”





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Eddie Jones plumps for Odogwu X-factor


England’s exciting uncapped duo of Bristol scrumhalf Harry Randall and Wasps wing/centre Paolo Odogwu were eye-catching names among the 28-man Six Nations squad named by coach Eddie Jones.

Yet the most notable omission was that of Bristol prop Kyle Sinckler when Australian Jones, currently in isolation after after assistant coach Matt Proudfoot tested positive for COVID-19, named his squad on Friday.

Randall, who is also qualified to represent Wales, has been in sparkling form during Bristol’s bright start to the Premiership season and will vie with Dan Robson to back up regular No.9 Ben Youngs.

Odogwu, who scored two tries in a man-of-the-match performance against Bath two weeks ago, is another now “claimed” for the red rose, having been eligible to play for Italy through his father.

A third uncapped player, Bath prop Ben Obano, has also been included.

Bristol prop Sinckler was suspended for England’s opening game against Scotland on February 6 after swearing at the referee in a club game but would have been available for the rest of the tournament.

Jones was non-committal about whether Sinckler would return for the second game, despite not including him in a “shadow squad”.

Jones was forced to limit his squad to less than his usual 30-plus names and will have fewer training days because of COVID-19 restrictions related to players moving back and forth between the England camp and their clubs.

As a result, he has also named a shadow squad of 12 that mostly comprises inexperienced or uncapped players, who will follow the England COVID protocols, although Bath pair Jonathan Joseph and Charlie Ewels both feature.

Having spent most of the last four years refusing to pick three halfbacks in his training squads, Jones has now gone for a trio in the smaller group, having found it impossible to ignore the sparky inventiveness of 23-year-old Randall.

“We’ve been watching Harry for a long time now, at least two seasons,” said Jones.

“He’ll put pressure on Benny Youngs and Dan Robson, which is a good thing, but it’s not so much the youth, it’s the quality of his play that’s the key thing for us.”

Odogwu’s versatility earned him a somewhat unexpected call-up.

“He’s got power, got a bit of an X-factor. He has the ability to beat people, he’s got a good sense for the line,” said Jones.

“We’re looking for another centre or winger who has that and he’s been consistently dynamic in being able to break lines.”

England will meet up at the national football team’s training base at St George’s Park in the Midlands on January 27 to begin their build-up to the opening game of their Six Nations title defence at home to the Scots.





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Eddie Jones in isolation after England assistant coach Matt Proudfoot COVID-19 positive


“Following further negative tests, Jones and Amor will join up with the group on Thursday 28 January,” the England statement said.

Meanwhile, Wales have named uncapped back-rower Josh Macleod in their 36-man squad for the Six Nations, while there is also a recall for lock Dan Lydiate, who last featured three years ago.

Monaco-born Macleod is a former Wales under-20 international who plays as an openside and is widely regarded for his defensive work.

There are few surprises in the selection from coach Wayne Pivac, who has endured a difficult first year in charge of the side after replacing Warren Gatland.

Halfback Kieran Hardy, five-eighth Callum Sheedy, centre Johnny Williams and wing Louis Rees-Zammit have all been retained after impressing in the autumn internationals at the end of last year, while influential playmaker Tomos Williams returns from injury.

Scotland have included centre Cameron Redpath in their 35-man squad after winning a potential tug-of-war with England for the player.

Redpath’s father Bryan won 60 caps at halfback for Scotland and captained the team. An approach late last year failed, though he has now committed to coach Gregor Townsend’s rebuild of the squad.

“We have spoken to him for a while,” Townsend said on Wednesday. “We wanted him in the autumn, but he did not feel it was the right time to commit to either team.

“But he has made that decision now and saying yes to us, we see him as a big part of the Six Nations campaign. He has played really well for Bath.”

Five-eighth Finn Russell returns from injury in a major boost, while back-rower Gary Graham, winger Byron McGuigan, hooker Grant Stewart and prop Alan Dell are also back in the squad.

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Aside from Redpath, there are three other uncapped players in hookers David Cherry and Ewan Ashman, and lock Alex Craig.

“The depth we have across the squad enables us to bring in some new players who have excelled in recent weeks and others who we believe can perform at Test level,” Townsend said.

“Our tournament gets off to a fantastic start with a fixture we look forward to every year against England (on February 6) and the opportunity to win back the Calcutta Cup at Twickenham.

“As coaches we have selected a group which we believe can build on the work our players put in throughout the recent Autumn Nations Cup campaign and kick on again in terms of performance levels.”

Reuters

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AFL 2021: Pre-season training, Eddie Betts injury, setback, Carlton Blues news, COVID restrictions, latest news


Carlton veteran Eddie Betts has suffered an injury setback at training for the second consecutive pre-season, with 16 of the 18 AFL clubs now back on the track under COVID restrictions.

Scans have confirmed the forward has suffered a low-grade calf strain, after irritating some old scar tissue during a running drill. He’s expected to take one to two weeks to recover.

A similar injury, but to the other leg, in the 2020 pre-season saw Betts miss the season opener against Richmond before returning for the season resumption in Round 2.

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The Blues confirmed the news on Friday afternoon and said they would give a full pre-season update next week.

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Collingwood Magpies begin pre-season training, Eddie Betts’ calf injury a minor concern at Carlton Blues


A fully fit Jordan De Goey hit the track with his Collingwood teammates on Friday for the club’s first official day of full pre-season training.

De Goey looked strong and ran powerfully throughout the session, which involved some work focused on the footy, but a lot more focused on brutal running in the heat at Olympic Park.

Jordan De Goey had an injury-interrupted 2020 season.Credit:Getty Images

A hamstring injury which bothered him in late 2019 did not impact his start to 2020 but he picked up a finger injury that saw him miss significant time in the middle of the season.

However, he looks to have hit this pre-season unimpeded in good signs for Magpies fans and coach Nathan Buckley, who kept a watchful eye over training.

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AFL news 2020: Most powerful figures, most influential, power rankings, Gillon McLachlan, Eddie McGuire, AFL players association


Like most industries, the AFL is home to a power hierarchy that plays a big role in determining the direction and viability of the code.

Some of the most powerful figures are visible to all, while others aim to have an influence behind closed doors.

As 2020 comes to a close, here are the 10 most powerful and influential figures in the AFL as things stand.

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AFL news 2020: Heritier Lumumba, Eddie McGuire, Collingwood Football Club, racism


Former Magpies defender Heritier Lumumba has accused Collingwood Football Club of attempting to “bury” the findings of their internal review on racial discrimination.

In June, the Magpies announced they would launch an investigation into Lumumba’s allegations of a “culture of racist jokes” during his 10-year stint at the club.

Four months later, Lumumba lodged a Supreme Court claim against Collingwood and the AFL for “failing to protect him from racism”.

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In documents filed to the Supreme Court in October, the 2010 premiership player alleged the Pies failed in their “duty of care” to provide a safe working environment.





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Heritier Lumumba, Eddie McGuire, Collingwood Football Club, racism


Former Magpies defender Heritier Lumumba has accused Collingwood Football Club of attempting to “bury” the findings of their internal review on racial discrimination.

In June, the Magpies announced they would launch an investigation into Lumumba’s allegations of a “culture of racist jokes” during his 10-year stint at the club.

Four months later, Lumumba lodged a Supreme Court claim against Collingwood and the AFL for “failing to protect him from racism”.

In documents filed to the Supreme Court in October, the 2010 premiership player alleged the Pies failed in their “duty of care” to provide a safe working environment.

Last week, Eddie McGuire dropped the bombshell announcement he would step down as Collingwood President at the end of 2021. He has held the position since 1998.

While announcing his resignation, McGuire said he would continue to promote equality initiatives and “the fight against racism”.

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However, Lumumba believes McGuire’s departure was associated with the internal review’s findings, and accused the football club of attempting to “hide” the report.

The 34-year-old also claimed Collingwood has “ignored” requests to provide him with a copy of the report.

“Six months after announcing an internal review on racism and racial discrimination, a report was finally delivered to Collingwood FC’s board. Eddie McGuire announced he would be stepping down just 72 hours later,” Lumumba tweeted on Wednesday evening.

“As usual, CFC have tried to spin this to avoid associating Eddie’s departure with the findings of the review, by making no mention of it publicly. No doubt their intention is to bury the report in ‘new initiatives’ around ‘equality’ as mentioned by McGuire in his speech.

“CFC is yet to provide me with the report — they ignored a request for it. If they truly believe in transparency, CFC should make the report public. Instead, they’re doing their best to hide it behind McGuire’s ‘lap of honour’ exit from the club’s presidency.

“CFC’s damage control tactics are predictable. They likely include a strategically crafted apology that will attempt to spin its way out of real accountability.

“CFC has constantly avoided acknowledging their toxicity and institutional failures, or how they punished me for speaking out and used their power as an institution to publicly discredit me.”

Brazilian-born Lumumba demanded an apology from his former club in June, asserting there was a “culture of racist jokes” at Collingwood Football Club.

Lumumba posted to Twitter: “Collingwood’s suggestion that it will ‘investigate’ itself after actively denying my story for six years is frankly insulting. Senior people in the club have known the truth this whole time and chose a cover-up over transparency.

“I have no desire to convince Collingwood of a truth that they already know. Given the club’s inability to come clean, and the way it has attempted to publicly and privately attack my reputation, I cannot accept that this ‘integrity’ process has been proposed in good faith.

“My claims have been consistent. Instead of simply acknowledging them, Collingwood chose to engage in deceptive and misleading conduct, unnecessarily dragging its fans and members through a scandal which will leave an unfortunate mark on the club’s history.”

In response to Lumumba’s accusations, Collingwood vowed to “search for the truth in the matters raised”.

“While Collingwood has always sought to be guided by values of equality, tolerance, inclusion and respect, in Heritier’s time the club could not fully appreciate the personal impact of his experiences,” the club said in a statement in June.

“Collingwood proudly seeks to encourage and celebrate diversity and difference. A further important objective of the integrity committee’s work is to learn and improve the club’s cultural understanding.”

Collingwood Football Club has been approached for comment.



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AFL news 2020: Dustin Martin Buddy Franklin dinner, Eddie Hayson meeting, match-fixing investigation, sydney dinner, off-season news, Richmond, Sydney Swans


Australia’s newly formed sports watchdog has reportedly alerted NSW police to a dinner involving Dustin Martin, Lance Franklin and high-profile gambler and former brothel owner Eddie Hayson.

The Age reports Martin arrived in Sydney at the start of December and arranged to meet with Hayson, who has been investigated and cleared of match-fixing by the NRL in the past and in 2014 lost control of his high-profile NSW brothel, declaring he had debts of $52 million and admitting he provided several footballers with free services at the premises.

The report indicates Franklin had no relationship with Hayson and was surprised by his arrival at dinner with Martin and former AFL ruckman Tom Derickx.

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