Starc issues warning to England

Mitchell Starc has warned England that they should expect things to go from bad to worse for the remainder of the winter’s Ashes.

Starc has been in blistering form, taking 14 wickets in Australia’s two victories so far, and believes he and his colleagues have the scope to step it up another gear when the series heads to Perth.

England have not won in Perth since 1978, and Australia only need victory their to regain the Ashes with an unassailable 3-0 lead – regardless of what happens in the final two tests after.

The Aussie bowler is already licking his lips at the prospect of putting England under immense pressure, on a pitch which has been long renowned for being one of the world’s quickest.

“The exciting thing is our bowling group can still get better,” said the 27-year-old left-armer.

“We’ve obviously managed to take 40 wickets in the last couple of weeks and do some really good things, but I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement.”

Starc added: “‘Gazza’ (Lyon) is bowling outstandingly at the moment.

“That allows the other three of us to do what we need to do from one end if need be.

“Then Josh does what he does and allows Pat and me to bowl as fast as we want.

“I hope we see a nice, fast, bouncy wicket – a WACA of old – and we can get stuck into their batters again.”

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Slater wary of Widdop threat in World Cup final

Australia full-back Billy Slater has signalled out his former Melbourne team-mate Gareth Widdop as England’s main threat ahead of this Saturday’s World Cup final.

Widdop started his career with Melbourne juniors as a full back, but has now switched to stand-off because of the presence Slater posseses in the number one jersey.

Widdop made the move to St George Illawarra four years ago, and has been such a success since the change in position, that he was named the Dally M stand-off in 2017.

Despite success in the role at domestic level, Widdop has found himself playing in his old full-back role with England, and has been pivotal in England’s surge to the final.

“Gareth is just a natural footy player,” Slater said. “He can play anywhere really. As long as he has got the ball in his hands, he is going to be a danger to the opposition.

“He’d always had this sort of potential. We all know what Gareth Widdop is capable of.

“He has got a running game but is more a skilful passer of the football. He poses a threat out the back and distributes the ball on to his outside men.

“Being aware of where Gareth is at all times when they are attacking our line is probably key for us. He is a big indicator of where they are going to go. He is probably their strike weapon.”`

Hull will face Wigan in Australia next year

Hull FC will take on Wigan in Australia in 2018 for the first Super League game to ever take place outside of Europe.

Important details:

Date: 10 February 2018

Venue: WIN Stadium in Wollongong

A week after the game, both sides will then take on Australian opponents. Wigan will face the South Sydney Rabbitohs, whilst Hull will face St George Illawarra Dragons. Both games will be in Sydney.

If either side qualifies, it will open the door for them to take part in the World Club Challenge or Series, which starts on the 24th of February.

Shane Wane’s Wigan side have previously played in Australia, when they were defeated 36-14 by the Sydney Roosters in 2014 during the World Club Challenge, but the Warriors will be hoping for a sweeter outcome this time around.

Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan said:

“We firmly believe that the Wigan and Hull fans will be as excited about this venture as we are and we have announced early to allow fans the chance to plan their trip to Australia.”

Whilst Hull chairman Adam Pearson also spoke:

“There will be a great deal of excitement from fans of both clubs and we’re sure many will want to travel to New South Wales for such an historic occasion, support their team and help showcase all that is good about rugby league in the UK.”

Mitchell Pearce stood down by Roosters

The Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney Roosters captain Mitchell Pearce has been stood down by his club following the release of a video where he appears to imitate a sex act on a dog.

Pearce’s advances were rejected by a female in the video, before he then picked up the dog whilst sat on the sofa. He was also accused of urinating on himself and the furniture in the flat, by the same woman.

Earlier on during the same day Pearce had posted a photo to his Instagram of he and his teammates embarking on a Sydney Harbour Cruise, following the conclusion of their morning training session. This all happened on Australia Day.

Love these blokes ✌🏻️

A post shared by Mitchell Pearce (@mitchpearce_7) on

A spokesman for the NRL said “will work with the Roosters to ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately”.

The Sydney Roosters also released a statement, claiming they were to work closely with the the NRL integrity unit.

“The Sydney Roosters are aware of an incident involving Mitchell Pearce.

“The Club has advised the NRL’s Integrity Unit. The Club will conduct an internal investigation and will be making no further comment at this time.”

Expect this story to unravel even more in the coming days.

Formula 1 2016 season to begin at earlier date

It has been announced by the FIA today that next season’s Formula 1 season will begin two weeks earlier than what had been originally scheduled, due to team complaints.

The season was supposed to begin on April 3rd, what would have been the latest start in decades, but now the changes to the dates have been confirmed the season will start two weeks prior on March 20th.

The main opposition from the race teams was due to the later start it would be more difficult to fit in a record 21 races in such a short period of time.

The opener in Australia is scheduled to be followed by Grand Prix’s in Bahrain, China and Russia all with two week intervals in between, with the Grand Prix heading to Britain on July 10th.

Fans of F1 can find the revised scheduled here:

April 3 – Australia
April 10 – China
April 24 – Bahrain
May 1 – Russia
May 15 – Spain
May 29 – Monaco
June 12 – Canada
June 26 – Britain
July 3 – Austria
July 17 – Europe (Baku)
July 31 – Germany
August 7 – Hungary
August 28 – Belgium
September 4 – Italy
September 18 – Singapore
September 25 – Malaysia
October 9 – Japan
October 23 – USA (Austin)
October 30 – Mexico
November 13 – Brazil
November 27 – Abu Dhabi

The season still finishes on November 27th in Abu Dhabi as had been agreed to before today’s announcement.

The current campaign is still underway, with Lewis Hamilton currently leading the standings on 277 points, whilst his closest rivals Nico Rosberg and Sebastien Vettel both sit on 229 and 218 points respectively.

Davis cup final to be held on clay in Ghent

Belgium have today confirmed that the already eagerly awaited final for the Davis cup against Great Britain will be at the Flanders Expo, a 13,000 capacity stadium, with the surface also being confirmed as clay.

Britain made history this week as they reached their first Davis cup final in over 37 years, beating Australia to get to this stage, with the Brits being impressively led by captain and world number 3 Andy Murray.

There may problems with the proposed dates for the final, as officials told of the final being played from 27-29 November. Murray would have been participating in the World Tour Finals until November 22nd, leaving him with just five days for his body to recover before he headed to Belgium.

Murray told the press today he would need a substantial amount of time to let his body recover and to deal with the transition from hard court to clay.

“If you reach the final and play on the Sunday you also need to take time off – you can’t just play five matches against the best players in the world and then not take any days off.”

Despite the potential fixture meaning he may need to miss one of the big tournaments, the Scot is clearly happy to hear that the surface is on clay, as he tweeted:

“So Ghent on the clay for the Davis Cup final – very pumped! Think clay is a good surface for us.”

Belgium were handed the advantage of playing in front of their own nation due to the rotation policy the Davis cup instills, meaning that nations alternate hosting every time they face each other, and with Britain having last hosted the two nations in Glasgow in 2012, it meant it was Belgium’s turn. Belgium won that year convincingly with a tally of four wins to GB’s one.

Good man Murray to donate £50 to Unicef for every ace

Andy Murray has announced that he will donate £50 to Unicef for every ace he completes for the remainder of the season, in a bid to aid the ongoing refugee crisis, which is something the Scot has clearly taken to heart.

The occasional tennis watcher may watch Murray’s occasional tantrums on court and judge him for doing so, but for the tennis enthusiasts, this generous news will not come as so much of a surprise.

Murray said he felt he needed to act and help in anyway he could after following the news updates of the thousands of refugees, who are making their way across Europe to seek asylum, escaping the conflict in their home nations.

“I felt I had to do something to help the millions of children and their families who have been forced to flee their homes.

“I’ll get that little bit more satisfaction from each ace I hit.”

Following Murray’s generous proposal, one of his sponsors, the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Lawn Tennis Association have also agreed to match his £50 pledge – meaning each ace will be worth £200 to Unicef.

The British number one takes on Thanasi Kokkinakis on Friday at 1pm in the Davis Cup, as his British teammates look to reach the final for the first time in 40 years as they take on Australia.