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Wenger: ‘I won’t pick my heir’

Written By malwan milad on Sabtu, 29 Maret 2014 | 23.52

Wenger's contract is up at the end of the season. Picture: AFP Source: ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP

Ferguson recommended David Moyes to the United board after retiring last year, but the former Everton manager has endured a disappointing first season at Old Trafford.

Wenger, 64, recently presided over his 1,000th game as Arsenal manager, but he feels that it will not be his responsibility to play a part in the recruitment process when the club go in search of their next head coach.

"I always said, and you can check that, everybody has his job (at the club). My job is to do well for the team, not to do anything else," he said, in comments reported by several British newspapers on Saturday.

Asked if he would choose his own successor, the Frenchman replied: "No."

Wenger's contract is due to expire at the end of the current season, and although he has verbally agreed to remain at the club, he suggested that he could yet change his mind.

"My word is my word," Wenger said.

Pressed as to whether that meant that he would definitely stay at the club next season, he replied: "Yes, unless I decide otherwise. I have told you many times, we have had no time to sit down and do it.

"(I am) not going anywhere, don't worry for that, but I want to have a feeling coming out of the season that I have done the maximum for the club."


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The moment Boof got Aussies on track

Darren Lehmann has turned the Australian cricket team into a harmonious group. Picture: Phil Hillyard. Source: Philip Hillyard / News Limited

IT was the emotion-charged moment when Darren 'Boof' Lehmann knew Australian cricket was on the right track.

And it didn't have much to do with cricket.

Only weeks after being parachuted into his new job as Australian coach during the Ashes in England last year, there was a birthday dinner for the sick wife of the team bus driver.

Pom Geoff Goodwin, affectionately known as 'Popeye', had been the long-time driver of the Aussie team bus on England tours.

He was the man who spooked Shane Watson into seeing ghosts in the lead-up to the 2005 Ashes series.

Goodwin convinced the all-rounder into believing the local legend of Lumley Castle, where the Australians stayed during the limited-overs series and where a 400-year-old lady ghost was said to roam the corridors.

Lehmann has a giggle ahead of the first Ashes Test at Trent Bridge — just two weeks after taking over as head coach. Source: Getty Images

Fast forward to 2013 and Goodwin's wife Suzanne was seriously ill with cancer. What happened next convinced Lehmann, who brought a family-first mantra to the coaching job, that Australian cricket was going places.

"When I knew we were on the right path was when there was a birthday dinner organised for Popeye's wife. She was really sick with cancer, she had lost all her hair," Lehmann said.

"Our players were invited to come with their partners and wives. Even though it was optional, everyone turned up. Nobody missed it. When the numbers came back we had everyone on the bus and all the support staff.

"That said to me that our players were worried about other families as well.

"I thought to myself 'the guys get it, everyone gets it.' When Popeye spoke there were tears in his eyes because everyone had turned up.

"It was what we wanted to be about. Making people's lives better as a family and as a group."

For all the training and planning sessions Lehmann had led, it has been the enormous cultural shift in Australian cricket that has been his biggest influence.

The Australian dressing room is a happy place these days. Picture: Phil Hillyard. Source: News Limited

Before Lehmann, players were sometimes at each other's throat and there was a meltdown in Mohali with four players sacked from a Test and Shane Watson flying home immediately.

Following the sacking of former coach Mickey Arthur on the eve of the 2013 Ashes in England, Lehmann was installed and immediately set about fostering a new team spirit.

And, again, it wasn't all about cricket.

"On my first day I told the players I was going to change a few things," Lehmann said.

"What they had been doing I didn't know and I didn't really worry about what had happened.

"I wanted them to buy into the way we were going to go about things with a family-first policy. And I also wanted them to play a very aggressive brand of cricket and a very entertaining brand of cricket."

Ryan Harris (L) with Darren Lehmann during the Ashes. Source: News Limited

Lehmann's caring, family-first approach, getting partners and families involved at every opportunity, is part of his life-is-too-short mantra.

It comes, at least in part, from the tragic death of his best mate David Hookes from a punch outside a Melbourne hotel in 2004. Lehmann was there that night and what he saw greatly influenced his philosophies as a person and as a cricket coach.

Under Lehmann, the Australian players are about doing as much good off the field as they do on the field. It was why six of the T20 team in Bangladesh visited a hospital for sick kids in impoverished Dhaka last week. The World T20 has been a failure on the pitch but Lehmann is about trying to grow his players as men as well as cricketers.

"It's a real eye-opener and something I'm really glad I've experienced,'' 20-year-old legspinner James Muirhead said after visiting the hospital.

"It was pretty hard to look at. But it's just good to see all the work that is being done."

James Muirhead (R), David Warner (C) and Aaron Finch with a child and mother in the Dhaka hospital. Source: Supplied

Another thing that makes Lehmann click is he appears to have struck a perfect balance between being one of the boys and being a strict disciplinarian. There are his practical gags and joke of the day competition but he has been known to send a player home if they are 30 seconds late for training. He is a stickler for punctuality.

But the overriding factor is his sense of fun and enjoyment.

"You've got to love the game and you have got to be a cricket nuffy but you have got to enjoy the game and have a laugh wherever you are touring," Lehmann says.

"Enjoyment is a huge thing for me — that's why we have the joke of the day and some of the other things we do. They are just to make touring life and maybe life in general have less pressure.

"I know it's easy to say, but cricket is only a game.''

Lehmann has found a balance between being a friend and a leader. Picture: Phil Hillyard. Source: News Limited

In Lehmann's coaching, you can see a little bit of Bob Simpson, a little bit of Geoff Marsh, a little bit of Greg Chappell and a little bit of John Buchanan.

Lehmann is known for his love of a smoke and a beer but he has done well to fuse cricket's old and new worlds.

"I think I try to marry the old world and the new world, as a coach the new world has a really good place with all the facilities and all the data," he says.

"We never had a lot of this sort of stuff in our day. I can also take stuff from the old days and bring it forward. I have tried to pick the best bits I have liked from various coaches.

"I think with leadership and how to play the game I have looked at David Hookes and with batting it has probably been Greg Chappell."

Lehmann doesn't want to single out any player to credit for the massive leaps in Australian cricket as it has truly been a team effort.

But he takes particular pleasure from the development of fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris. And the batting of potential future captain Steve Smith.

"I think Smith has made the most progress over the last 12 months as a player,'' Lehmann says.

"He is probably unlucky not to be in the one-day and the T20 sides at the moment. We need him to keep improving his bowling. If you have someone who bowls legspinners very well and bats in the top six, that is a big advantage to have.

"Mitchell and Ryan are world-class and they are good for our group.

"The one thing I'm really pleased about is they have really helped the young blokes out as well. That is the sort of stuff you only see behind the scenes.

"What they are doing off the ground has been exceptional, helping to mentor the young bowlers."


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McKinnon a victim of extreme courage

We live in an age of certainty. Or we like to think so.

It is an age in which we no longer shake our heads in awe at the miraculous technology that allow us to find a few scraps of metal in a remote ocean and identify them as the wreckage of a missing aeroplane. Instead we wonder how a spec could go missing from the radar and why it took so long to find.

Such certainty does not allow for mishaps. It leads us to believe accidents don't happen. To conclude there is always something that should have been done to prevent chaos; or that something can be done to make sure it never happens again.

In this age of certainty the horrible injuries suffered by Newcastle's Alex McKinnon challenge our smug self-assurance. They defy the belief that we can legislate against danger. That we can retain the sense of peril that remains one of the most compelling elements of a still brutal sport, but avoid the casualties.

Now here is young McKinnon. Lying prone in an induced coma in a Melbourne hospital. A sad and uncomfortable reminder of the inevitable price to be paid for the ferocity and physicality that is rugby league's essential point of difference.

Yes, rugby league is not as rough as it once was. The game is faster and more athletic. On the same weekend McKinnon was injured, Brett Morris performed a piece of try-scoring gymnastics to rival Nadia Comaneci. Fortunately he stuck the landing.

You can't question the courage of a rugby league player. Alex McKinnon in action for Newcastle earlier this year. Source: News Limited

The NRL now sets the bar high. Immense physical attributes are required to reach the highest level. Pace, skill, size, raw power. But you can have the whole package and it still doesn't matter unless you have heart. Unless you can defy the reasonable assumption that sooner AND later it will hurt.

I used to watch Melbourne Storm training sessions from behind the posts. The last drill was always a series of high balls under which Billy Slater and his fellow backs would stand flat-footed, while the forwards charged at them with murderous intent. Jeff Lima, a human canon ball, took particular delight testing his smaller teammates' mettle.

I liked standing as close as I could because the next time I wrote about the game I had some idea what was going through the mind of the hapless fullback when he muffed a "simple take''. It reminded me that I would sooner stand between Kyle Sandilands and a breakfast buffet than have several hundred kilograms of prime forward charging at me.

There are countless other moments in the game where danger is real. Put 26 muscular, highly motivated athletes on either side of a line and you don't need a risk assessment expert to tell you that more than egos will be bruised.

The ability to endure pain and confront the possibility — even probability — of serious injury is what separates the real warriors from the couch variety. It is why the mere willingness to cross the line is the source of deep admiration.

Rightly we have tried to minimise the risks. We have legislated against the cheap shots, the shoulder charges and, as far as possible, the dangerous tackles that made an already brutal game unjustifiably dangerous. Especially now that the muscularity and speed of the athletes alone makes the head-on clashes so bone-jarring.

But despite reflexive calls to ban three-man tackles or harshly punish those who inflict serious injury in the wake of McKinnon's trauma, we cannot remove chance. We cannot guarantee that a heavy hit or a jarring tackle will not cause injury. Possibly a horrible and life-altering injury.

Not if rugby league, and other contact sports, are to retain their essential character. Not if they are to remain a test of courage as well as sheer skill and athleticism.

Given the chilling nature of McKinnon's injury, we are entitled to ask if the price for that is too high. Sport presents other tests without leaving its practitioners broken.

About the worst thing most golfers suffer is a sprained wrist from hacking the ball out of long rough. Yet the mental examination is gruelling.

Last week Adam Scott was labelled a "choker'' by some because he blew an eight shot lead in a USPGA Tour event. Less than a year after he won a play-off at Augusta with the weight of Australia's tragic Masters history on his shoulders.

Golf's scars are mental. Rugby leagues are all too real. All the more shocking because, despite our best efforts, they are often unavoidable. An unspoken yet very real part of the game.

From every angle I've seen, and from the testament of far more learned observers, McKinnon is the tragic victim of a terrible accident. He is also a victim of the immense courage required to step on the field. Sometimes what happens out there, where the stout-hearted go, is beyond our control.

Big things will be expected of Australia and Ange Postecoglou at the Asian Football Cup. Source: Getty Images

ASIAN CUP TO POSE A HOST OF QUESTIONS

The draw for the Asian Football Cup at the Opera House last week was made without too much fuss. Not when you consider there was several squillion dollars worth of Asian footballing nobility in the concert hall.

Australia drew — cue the drum roll — a group of death.

Well, a group of potential hazard with South Korea pitched in alongside the less foreboding Oman and Kuwait.

Understandably, with the World Cup in Brazil approaching, the Asian Cup has flown under the radar.

The thought of matches involving nations such as North Korea and Saudi Arabia aren't exactly setting pulses racing, with the Socceroos set to take on the might of Spain, The Netherlands and Chile in Brazil.

Still, within football circles, there is a strong belief the Asian Cup — not the World Cup — will provide the first realistic challenge for Ange Postecoglou's regenerating team.

It is not an idea the new coach publicly embraces. Postecoglou is acutely aware the cupboard of talented players is bare, and constantly reminded of the extremely low expectations of his team in Brazil.

Yet he insists he will demand a competitive performance from his callow squad.

But the Asian Cup might shine an even harsher light on the Socceroos. Losing to three teams ranked in the world's top 12 in Brazil is one thing. Stumbling against Asian neighbours on home turf is quite another

That the Asian Cup starts in January, head-to-head with the BBL, adds some more intrigue.

Ticket sales will be launched this week.

On and off the park, the tournament shapes as a stern test of football's growth.

Will James Hird survive as Essendon coach if his players receive infraction notices. Source: News Corp Australia

HIRD'S LONG TERM SURVIVAL STILL IN THE LAP OF THE GODS

ESSENDON'S coach in exile, James Hird, has survived the consequences of his own bitter reprisals.

Despite the calculated attacks of his family and associates on the AFL, whose sanctions he accepted last year, Hird retained the lucrative contract extension he was granted despite his failure to adequately supervise the club's supplements regime.

Still, the question remains; Will Hird survive if his players receive infraction notices, and will his devoted cheerleaders remain so supportive?


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Voss speaks about life after footy

Former AFL coach Michael Voss now has time to watch his son Casey, 13, play football. Picture: Adam Head Source: Adam Head / News Corp Australia

MICHAEL Voss lost his dream job as coach of the Brisbane Lions, but his kids gained a basketball court.

Ten-year-old Gemma Voss recently beamed when her dad told her he would be able to watch her play a tennis match when she had been expecting him to say he could not manage it.

It's amazing what a man can do with a little time on his hands.

And Voss has made lemonade from the sour lemons of his dismissal last August by the Australian Football club for which he played for 15 years and coached for five draining, challenging more years.

Voss, the triple premiership captain of the Lions, has now finished a summer without playing or coaching football.

"I liked the summer off so much, I want to have another one next summer,'' he says.

That was how Voss, 38, decided he will not chase a job in the AFL industry next year.

"We'd probably go on an extensive holiday if that happens,'' Voss says, four days after Brisbane played, and lost, their first match of the season under the coaching of his former clubmate Justin Leppitsch.

"I've really cherished the last four or five months. We had a summer where we went on day trips to the beach and did things I hadn't done with them so much.

Michael Voss with his children at the beach. Picture: News Corp Source: Supplied

"The job just sucks you in. There's no other way to describe it.''

Voss is aiming to keep his AFL knowledge current this year with media commentary for Foxtel and a Melbourne radio station, plus a three-month role in a television reality program shot in Melbourne. He will be the coach of 12 would-be AFL players in a "Big Brother'' house environment for Foxtel, "The Recruit'', with the last man standing to be given an AFL club contract.

"Being able to have some flexibility in your life is pretty bloody important,'' he says.

"We went away for 10 days and I said to my wife, `I just want to enjoy being home'. So I needed mini projects.''

Voss is the sort of home handyman with a track record of gung-ho misadventure, having once sliced his calf badly and also cut his finger to the bone when hitching a trailer to a car.

But he flattened out a grassed area in his backyard and had it concreted so 13-year-old twins Casey and Kayla and his youngest, Gemma, could play backyard basketball a little easier.

"It took him a good three weeks but he really enjoyed it,'' says Voss's wife Donna.

"For the kids to have six weeks off with their dad was great. He was there all day every day … he was never home that long, ever. It's been good for him and good for the kids.''

Michael Voss in the garden. Picture: News Corp Source: Supplied

Voss's eyes appear a little more crinkled around the edges than when he was named the youngest coach in the AFL, at 33, in late 2008.

But as the conversation goes on, it's apparent that is due mostly to the stress of a punishing get-fit session at a gym, another of the holiday projects Voss has attacked with relish.

Michael Voss is one man who has managed to avoid being totally annihilated by the demands of being an AFL head coach, a profession which allows in only 16 per year and can turn self-assured men into quivering wrecks.

Asked if he found he was not defined by his job when he lost it, Voss said: "I'd like to think not. You are pouring so much effort of your own into it it's hard not to. But you can't have that.''

As a player skilful and brave enough to become a Brownlow Medallist and a member of the AFL Hall of Fame, Voss was one of those rare breed of athletes able to bend matches to his will.

For instance, his back-pedalling, muscle-on-bone mark late in Brisbane's second grand final win, against Collingwood in 2002, remains a hackles-raising memory for Lions fans among their recollections of a now distant, golden era.

When he finally retired as a player in 2006, he devoted two years to the television industry before, after knocking back the chance to be head coach of two clubs, agreed to an assistant coach role with the West Coast.

Former Lions coach Michael Voss at boxing training at Coorparoo Boxing Gym. Picture: Adam Head Source: News Corp Australia

But he handed the Perth job back swiftly when his Lions premiership coach Leigh Matthews retired a few days after Brisbane's elimination in 2008.

It was nothing less than a sporting coronation and he took the Lions to the finals for the first time since 2004 in his first year in charge.

Voss effectively bet the farm by recruiting the mischief-prone but gifted Brendan Fevola to the Lions for 2010, necessitating a raft of player movements which annoyed many hardened Brisbane followers.

Fevola's Brisbane misadventures ended in rehab at a New Farm clinic.

He built gambling debts and a list of misdemeanours, including a visit to the police watch-house while the Brisbane media waited outside.

On his way back to Victoria, Fevola was paid out for the rest of his contract, impacting on the club's ability to pay players in the following year. He has not played for an AFL club since.

Voss, the coach, was unable to fight his way back from the consequences of his 2009 decisions, losing a rearguard action over his remaining three seasons, in which the Lions failed to make the finals.

"The first year, the work never stopped, because I'd bounce in — I was loving it — and clocked off late at night, working at the office at home,'' he recalls wistfully.

"When you are trying to improve 48 players and keep a culture sound, it's a big machine which has to operate and there's only so much you can get done.''

In the first two years of his coaching reign, the Voss family came to negotiate a "phone down'' policy on Michael.

Voss takes time out before fronting the media. Picture: Darren England Source: News Limited

"He was coming home and spending his first two hours on the phone,'' Donna says.

So a penalty jar was brought into play. Every time dad-the-coach took a work call at home, he had to put a $5 note in the jar.

"A fair bit was put in there. If it had been $2, it would have been, `throw the coin in and take the phone call','' Voss says, laughing.

"After the first year, it was about finding some way to discipline myself and I needed my kids to keep me accountable. They loved it.''

The first five months of the 2013 season, his fifth as coach, was played against a background of speculation over whether Voss would be offered another contract by a board harassed by a deteriorating financial position due to a levelling off of ticket sales and corporate support.

Lions players, or at least managers of Lions players, made it known outside the club that they were unsure about signing a new contract with Brisbane if Voss remained in charge.

The existing Lions board was, at around the same time, drawn into a dispute with a rival ticket, which resulted at the end of the season in chairman Angus Johnson's departure.

Asked if he was convinced he had kept the loyalty of all in the coaching staff, the football department (correct) and the players during this period, Voss says: "I don't know. The overwhelming feeling I had … was, 'who do I trust?'.

"I'm sitting here (without the Lions job) for a reason. I can't answer the question whether I had the coaches. I can't answer the question, did I have the players. I felt I had the players, but how do you know? I probably never will be able to tell you what scale (of support) it was.

"Clearly I didn't have the board. The board bought into a different idea.''

Voss in action as Brisbane coach. Picture: Getty Source: Getty Images

Donna Voss says she did not see 2013 as her husband's hardest year in the job, probably because he had decided that all he could do was concentrate on what he could control.

"It didn't end well, but 2011 was the most challenging year because they won four games,'' she says.

A victory over competition heavyweights Essendon in May and a miraculous win from a 51-point deficit over Geelong in June gave heft to Voss's contention that his mostly young team was making distinct progress.

It was widely reported a new contract would come his way in the days before a phone call came from then Lions chairman Johnson on August 13.

It was time to clean out his desk. The Lion king had lost his throne.

What was striking, and rare among the ranks of sacked football coaches, was that Voss sat at the press conference to announce his professional termination, alongside Johnson, the man who fired the metaphorical bullet.

"He handled it with a lot of class,'' Donna Voss remembers.

Voss explains: "I just thought it was important the members, who had followed me since I was 16 years of age, knew I loved my club and despite the fact it finished really badly, I love it and I always will.

"It's an integral part of me and that overrode really everything else.

"I wasn't too sure what had happened. I had an idea, but there wasn't a lot I could do. I didn't want to throw bombs.

"So I was saying to the club and the supporters, `I'm OK … I will push on and the end won't define me'. That's what I wanted to communicate.''

Former Lions AFL coach Michael Voss at boxing training for fitness at Coorparoo Boxing Gym. Pics Adam Head Source: News Corp Australia

In the months since, Voss has been asked many times how much he was hurting. He was not the first AFL coach to be left in the dark by a dissatisfied board of directors, but he was the first triple premiership coach to be cut adrift in such a fashion.

"The only thing I would have liked was a chat that they were thinking of something else,'' he says.

"Looking back, that's, it's my only disappointment, I guess, that I couldn't get a courtesy chat, that my own club couldn't have (it) with me. There might be a couple of individuals I was disappointed didn't do that.

"Eventually, for me it gets you back to, `Why sit there and wonder who it is and why did it happen? Why would you let something external drive what you feel and think during a day?' I don't let it affect me.''

One immediate way Voss renewed his association with the Lions was to share some thoughts on the club in a phone call with his triple premiership teammate and former assistant coach Leppitsch prior to Leppitsch's interview for the Brisbane head coach job.

A few weeks later, Voss and another ex-Lions teammate Craig McRae were at Leppitsch's house, outside Melbourne, when he fielded a call, letting him he would be the new coach.

Leppitsch and his wife Christie also caught up with Michael and Donna Voss soon after their arrival in Brisbane.

"He rang for a chat. I communicated where I thought the club was at and answered some of his questions,'' Voss says.

"He's the one who had to walk in and get the job and he's developed a strong skill set in his seven years as an assistant coach. I'm proud of him that he rose to the top and got the job.

"Justin is the beneficiary of my demise and that's sport, and he and Christie have been very good friends of mine for a long time. I hope he does a great job."

Towards the end of the conversation, I wanted to ask Voss when he had last spoken to Fevola, who turned out last year as a gun for hire for Victorian country clubs.

Did he try to keep in touch with you, I asked?

"No, not really. I haven't spoken to Fev for quite a while,'' Voss says.

How did he view Fevola's life since?

"I wouldn't know.''

It was the only time during the one-hour interview when I received an insight on what it might have been like to have stood between Michael Voss, the braveheart player, and his game's red football.

Voss might have to decide late this year if he wants to try to build his career back up again as a coaching prospect at a club other than Brisbane, first, probably, as an assistant coach.

"Three years, you probably have to make a decision if you want to get involved again,'' he says.

"I really don't know. It is hard for me to talk about clubland now. I don't see myself there.

"Our eldest are 13 so there is their schooling to consider.''

Michael and Donna Voss say that is a conversation they are yet to have.

"I've been able to put the head on the pillow and not worry about tomorrow. I've loved that,'' he says.


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Port the real deal

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AFTER all the off-field point scoring in the lead-up to yesterday's historic first Showdown at Adelaide Oval it was always going to come down to football — and right now Port Adelaide is simply a better side than the Crows.

We're constantly told how form goes out the window when these teams meet but the talent gap between South Australia's two clubs was rammed home yesterday.

Adelaide and Port Adelaide players took part in a tribute to Dean Bailey. Picture Simon Cross Source: News Corp Australia

The Power have made every post a winner since Ken Hinkley took over, making it into last year's finals series when the Crows couldn't and posting a strong win in round one.

And the momentum shows no signs of stopping after yesterday's 55-point win left them unbeaten this season and in a great position to challenge for the top four in 2014.

In contrast, the Crows' finals hopes look increasingly reliant on the successful return of key forward Taylor Walker from a long-term knee injury.

The first bounce of the first Showdown at the renovated Adelaide Oval. Picture Calum Robertson Source: News Corp Australia

For all the talk about its new look attack this summer the reality is Adelaide's forward line features one genuine star in Eddie Betts and a bunch of B graders.

That's probably a bit harsh on Mitch Grigg — who continues to impress — but the rest just aren't doing enough.

James Podsiadly was poor again, Lewis Johnston fumbled away opportunities and it was easy to forget Shaun McKernan was out there when he wasn't rucking.

Matthew Lobbe has the distinction of kicking the first goal at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval. Picture: Sarah Reed Source: News Corp Australia

Adelaide managed to kick just 11 goals and most of them came from the midfield. The Crows also have some convincing to do about the other line they regularly trotted out over summer — how they're an improved running side.

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After being heavily outscored by Geelong in the final term in round one, the Crows were unable to stay with Port's runners during a one-sided opening term.

Led by the blistering speed of Jared Polec and the enormous appetite for gut running of Brad Ebert and Justin Westhoff, Port put Adelaide to the sword.

The Power built a 28-point lead by outworking their opponents and putting the Crows defence under enormous pressure.

Ollie Wines was at his bullish best and kicked two long goals as a result of Adelaide turnovers. Picture Simon Cross Source: News Corp Australia

At the other end, Adelaide regularly found itself breaking down inside its forward 50.

It's only goal of the first quarter was an end to end play finished by Johnston but that was the result of slick ball movement rather than fine forward play.

Scott Thompson tried to give the Crows a lift in the third term, but the Power put the clamps on for there on. Picture Sarah Reed. Source: News Corp Australia

Power rookie Jarman Impey was entrusted with the job of minding Betts and stood up well against Adelaide's most dangerous forward in the early stages.

But after scoring his opener from a free kick, Betts gained momentum and did his best to drag Adelaide back into the contest with three second quarter goals.

It was all about the fans in the end and Robbie Gray gave them plenty to smile about. Picture Sarah Reed. Source: News Corp Australia

Hinkley had warned his players there would be periods in the game where they had to defend for their lives and it came early in the third quarter.

With Rory Sloane, Richard Douglas, Matt Jaensch and Scott Thompson leading the way, the Crows managed to steal the lead by kicking the first four goals of the quarter.

Adelaide showed the form that allowed it to hang with the Cats for three quarters at Simonds Stadium but you always sensed it wouldn't last.

Mitch Grigg and Travis Boak get up close and personal. Picture Simon Cross Source: News Corp Australia

Hinkley responded by shifting Tom Jonas on to Betts and the versatile defender managed to stop the former Blue from adding to his goal tally.

But it was an unlikely hero who stepped up when Port needed it most. John Butcher would not have ranked too highly on anyone's list of potential Port match-turners but it was the maligned key forward who helped the Power regain control midway through the third.

Butcher calmly slotted a set shot to give Port back the lead before setting up another with an accurate pass from the half forward line.

Aerial photos from the 7 News helicopter of the first AFL game at the redeveloped Adelaide Oval, Pic. Dean Martin Source: News Corp Australia

Chad Wingard — who was quiet for his standards in the first half — joined the party too and the Power's lead was back out to five goals at the final change.

Given Port's fourth quarter record it was always going to be more than enough. Adelaide will find Adelaide Oval more hospitable when it looks to avoid falling in a 0-3 hole against Sydney at home next weekend.

But for now it's Port Adelaide's oval.

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PORT ADELAIDE 19.14 (128)

ADELAIDE 11.7 (73)

BEST

PORT — Hartlett, Ebert, Schulz, Cornes, Wingard, Wines, Monfries.

CROWS — Smith, Sloane, Douglas, Betts, Jaensch.


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Reborn Sandow makes winning return

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THE cheeky smile was back, along with his rocks or diamonds trick-shot, the chip-and-chase.

Eight months after his last NRL match, Parramatta halfback Chris Sandow returned to where, on those dark days during counselling and with his family contactable only by phone call, he must have thought impossible.

Everyone loves a comeback story.

And last night at Parramatta Stadium, with the assistance of an inspired second-half from Eels co-captain Jarryd Hayne, Sandow penned a fairytale return with a gutsy western Sydney derby victory over a dangerous Penrith outfit.

Chris Sandow was impressive for the Eels in his NRL comeback. Source: News Corp Australia

Sandow had not played an NRL match since July last year, dropped to park football for NSW Cup side Wentworthville and with his papers seemingly stamped 'never to return'.

But through a renewed focus on training, improved diet and enthusiasm to be part of the Eels top squad, Sandow left coach Brad Arthur no other choice but to give the $550,000 playmaker another shot.

And on Saturday night, repaid his coach.

However, a level-headed Sandow admitted after the win that the key now is turning up next week against the Brisbane Broncos with the same intensity.

"It has been a long time coming,'' Sandow said last night.

"I had to work really hard to get back here.''

"I don't want to say that too early, you know I've got to keep working hard on my game and improve each week whether its in the colours of the Parramatta Eels or back there with Wenty.

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"I'm staying positive, the boys stuck in really deep tonight, it was good.

"But if I get a go again, we've got to do it again next week up there against the Broncos.''

Hayne supplied the polish for the Eels with a sublime pass leading to a try for freight train winger Semi Radrada in the 57th minute, before he scored a far less colourful, but just as important barge over try in the 63rd minute.

But it was Sandow who annoyed the Panthers just enough for them to retreat into falter.

On the back of several crucial individual plays from the livewire No.7, including a kick-chase before Radrada's try and a penalty earned moments before Hayne's four-pointer, the Eels ran away with their second win of the season.

Typically, Arthur wasn't about to shower Sandow in too much praise after the match. But he admitted, the former Dally M rookie of the year, deserved his return to the NRL.

Willie Tonga of the Eels streaks away to score an intercept try. Source: Getty Images

"There were some things that he had to go away and work on, he's been really positive around the place while he was doing that,'' Arthur said.

"He went back to Wenty and his goal-kicking helps and I thought he deserved his opportunity.

"He was solid (tonight). There's still some things that we need to get better.

"As long as he gets better again next week.''

Arthur added that the performances from the Eels money men, Hayne and Sandow, was due to a halftime spray he delivered to the Parramatta forward pack.

"I think some of our middle forwards are underestimated a little bit and I think done a really good job tonight,'' Arthur said.

"I gave them a little bit of a spray at halftime for a couple of things and they came out and responded really well.

Where is it? Corey Norman form the Eels flies high as Penrith players collide going up for the ball. Source: News Corp Australia

The Parramatta crowd celebrate a Semi Radradra try. Source: News Corp Australia

"We had a completion rate at 60 per cent and we talked to them about 'we have a talented player out the back whose not getting the footy' so we need to bring him into the game and told him he needs to go and get his hands on the footy.

"But if we're turning over our sets he's not going to get the footy.''

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary labelled his side's 16-point loss to Parramatta their worst performance of the season — and he is refusing to blame his club's ailing halves situation.

The Panthers have now used three separate halves combinations in the opening month of the season.

Injuries have meant much-hyped new recruits Jamie Soward and Peter Wallace have laced the boots on together just once, while back-up playmaker Isaac John has already been forced to play three matches in the top grade.

"It's not ideal, but that's certainly no excuse," Cleary said.

"We had the same guys as last week. It was just one of those nights where we were just off the pace in a lot of things — execution. We were close to lots of stuff. But close weren't close enough."

Jeremy Latimore crunched in a Parramatta tackle. Source: News Corp Australia

The Panthers were among the biggest recruiters over the off-season, buying more experience than any other club, but they now find themselves with just two victories.

"It's kind of the way it's going in the comp," he said.

"There are very few teams who are able to put performances in each week. That's not unusual for early in the season.

"We've had some good signs, but tonight was a disappointment. It was by far our worst game. So it's important to bounce back."

Fullback Matt Moylan was the one shining light for the Panthers, setting up two of their three tries as he continued to inject himself into the contest.

And while the youngster denied purposely getting more involved to offset the absence of Wallace, there is no doubt that his 100m and two tackle busts made him Penrith's most dangerous player.

Cleary confirmed that Wallace's return wasn't far off, but refused to enter into discussions surrounding former Origin representative Tim Grant's non-selection. He was omitted from the team before kick-off.

PARRAMATTA 32 (J Hayne M Ma'u N Peats S Radradra K Sio W Tonga tries C Sandow 4 goals) PENRITH 16 (L Brown I John D Whare tries M Moylan 2 goals) at Pirtek Stadium. Referees: Shayne Hayne, Henry Perenara. Crowd: 14,448.


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United win as angry fans protest

Rooney led the comeback thanks to two goals. Picture: Andrew Yates/AFP Source: ANDREW YATES / AFP

WAYNE Rooney inspired Manchester United to come from behind and beat Aston Villa 4-1 in a game marked by fresh protests against United manager David Moyes.

A small aeroplane towing an anti-Moyes banner flew over Old Trafford shortly after kick-off and the under-fire former Everton manager then saw his side fall behind to an Ashley Westwood free-kick.

However, Rooney scored twice before half-time, with Juan Mata and Javier Hernandez adding further goals as the under-performing champions provisionally moved to within nine points of the Premier League's top four.

There were fewer than two minutes on the clock on a sunny afternoon in Manchester when the plane, chartered by a group of disgruntled fans, made its appearance, trailing a banner that read: 'WRONG ONE — MOYES OUT'.

Moyes, however, played down the protest saying he felt he had the fans full support.

"I've been saying all the time since I've been here, the crowd have been great," Moyes told BT Sport.

"They've been terrific to me as well, because at times we haven't done as well as we'd like. We didn't start the game well today once again, but I've got to say that the crowd were brilliant, the way they were behind the team."

The aerial protest was a response to the pro-Moyes 'THE CHOSEN ONE' banner that has adorned the Stretford End since the beginning of the season, but the man himself received a warm reception when he emerged before kick-off.

Applause turned to silence, though, in the 13th minute when Westwood curled a delicate free-kick over the United wall and inside the left-hand post to put Villa ahead.

A banner critical of manager David Moyes is flown over Old Trafford. Picture: Jon Super/AP Source: AP

Villa centre-back Ciaran Clark then put a free header over, but Rooney equalised in the 20th minute when he exploited slack marking to convert Shinji Kagawa's left-wing cross with a deft glancing header.

The England striker completed the turnaround shortly before half-time, burying a penalty into the bottom-right corner after Mata had been cleaned out by Leandro Bacuna.

Villa striker Christian Benteke gave United two big scares early in the second half, miskicking right in front of goal and then heading just over, but Mata's 57th-minute strike gave the hosts breathing space.

After Marouane Fellaini tried to bundle his way through in the Villa area, the ball popped out to Mata, who thrashed home right-footed to claim his first United goal since his club-record 37.1 million pounds ($66.7 million) move from Chelsea in January.

Substitute Hernandez made it 4-1 in injury time, touching home an Adnan Januzaj cross to complete an encouraging display ahead of United's midweek Champions League date with Bayern Munich.

David Moyes applauds at the final whistle. Picture: Andrew Yates/AFP Source: AFP

Later on Saturday, leaders Chelsea can provisionally extend their advantage over second-place Liverpool to four points by winning at fourth-bottom Crystal Palace.

Third-place Manchester City will look to maintain the pressure on Jose Mourinho's side when they travel to fourth-place Arsenal, who are in danger of being eliminated from the title race.

At the other end of the table, second-bottom Cardiff City visit fellow relegation contenders West Bromwich Albion hoping to bridge the three-point gap that separates them from the Midlands club.

Elsewhere, Swansea City host Norwich City, Hull City travel to Stoke City, and Southampton tackle Newcastle United.


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Twilight race a new dawn for Volvo

Written By malwan milad on Sabtu, 01 Maret 2014 | 23.52

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THE Red Bull domination was easy enough to pick - but their biggest challenger was a what? A Volvo?

Craig Lowndes won last night's Clipsal 500 Race 2 twilight fight but there was only one man who owned Adelaide on the opening day of the new V8 Supercars season - Volvo sensation Scott McLaughlin.

MORE: CHECK OUT ALL THE LATEST CLIPSAL 500 NEWS HERE

The 2013 rookie of the year Scott McLaughlin took his rookie Swedish ride to second in last night's second 125km sprint, holding off defending champion and Race 1 winner Jamie Whincup and upstaging established rivals and manufacturers with a drive built on guts and defiance.

McLaughlin, who also qualified second, was faced with holding off Whincup for 11 long laps after the five-time champ caught him on the 28th lap.

Whincup took second spot at the final hairpin but McLaughlin regained position when Whincup ran wide at the thrilling final turn, prompting a standing ovation on the home straight.

"I gave it some jam and f*** yeah," an exuberant McLaughlin said of the final move.

"My boys, man, I can't thank them enough. All the fans, you guys were playing Volvo jokes, but I guess they're gone now.

So popular was McLaughlin's victory, the Adelaide crowd booed Whincup for almost snatching silver

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Volvo's outright speed and the 20-year-old's skill behind the wheel halted a Red Bull double one-two.

The pre-race concern about glare from the setting sun at turn four amounted to little on track, with no major incidents at the blinding run out of the chicane.

But turn six, with a similar view, tossed up a brush that is likely to reappear on an end-of-season bloopers reel.

James Courtney was left with an open suicide door when his passenger side peeled back after he dived for a tight gap between South Australian Scott Pye and Erebus driver Lee Holdsworth.

The 2010 drivers champion tried to scrape the outer wall to lose the door but was shown a mechanical black flag.

Mechanics yanked the offending bodywork free and Courtney was cleared to continue racing with a door-sized air vent.

Whincup suffered an early setback when he was held up in his pitstop. Just as teammate Lowndes suffered a wheelnut problem in Race 1, there was a delay changing the Whincup's right-rear tyre.

The setback left Whincup behind Lee Holdsworth, who was among the first to pit, and was later dropped behind Mark Winterbottom.

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McLaughlin held his second position off the line, sandwiched between Lowndes and Whincup.

Foreshadowing the closing tustle, it took only until the hairpin on the second lap for Whincup to make his move up the inside.

But McLaughlin refused to be intimidated and swiped the nose of his Volvo past Whincup's rear bumper searching for a quicker exit.

The pair went shoulder to shoulder - the sport's undisputed alpha lion and the kid tipped to one day usurp him - but Whincup stuck the move at the next turn.


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Windies legends get knighthoods

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THREE former West Indies cricketers took their legendary status to another level after being knighted in a special ceremony in Antigua.

Curtly Ambrose and Andy Roberts, both brilliant exponents of pace bowling during West Indies cricket's golden era, received the honour along with former Test captain Richie Richardson during the innings break of England's first one-day international against West Indies.

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The hosts won the match by 15 runs after a familiar batting collapse by England.

But perhaps the biggest cheers of the day were reserved for the trio receiving their knighthoods, all of whom hailed from the tiny island of less than 100,000 people.

The only previous Antiguan to receive a knighthood was the master blaster Sir Viv Richards, although the latest ceremony brings the total number of West Indies cricket knights to 11.

Both Roberts and Ambrose have already been inducted into the International Cricket Council's Hall of Fame.


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The 300km/h flying fridge

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NISSAN driver Todd Kelly secretly hired a major metropolitan airport in Melbourne to help turn his car labelled a "flying fridge'' last year into a V8 rocket ship for the 2014 season.

The Sunday Telegraph can exclusively reveal the extraordinary lengths Nissan Motorsport have gone to ensure they soar into the championship with team owner and driver Kelly drag racing Jetstar planes on the runaway at Avalon airport.

The four Nissan Altima's — brand new to the sport last year — severely lacked straight-line speed last season thanks to a poor aerodynamic package that saw the V8 Supercars compared to a fridge.

Nissan went all out over the off-season to give their multi-million dollar investment a chance of success with aerodynamic experts in both Europe and Japan helping redesign the car with state-of-the-art software used for spaceships aeroplanes, and Formula One cars.

But it was the testing phase of the no-expense spared operation that left early morning flyers stunned.

"He was driving the car at 300kph on the runway at Avalon,'' said a team member who asked to remain unnamed.

"It was an early morning exercise with the testing down between 4am and 6am. But there were times were Todd was just about directing aircraft to where they should land.''

The team shunned the V8 Supercar test facility with the team unhappy with last year's official sanctioned parity tests.

"The problem there was you could only get up to 200kph on their runway,'' said the team member.

"The aerodynamic properties are most important at the higher speeds and that is where we suffered last year.''

So what Kelly do? Looking for a piece of road, flat enough and long enough for his to hit top-speed, he hired Melbourne's second biggest airport.

The Jack Daniel's Nissan on the track in Adelaide. Picture: /Getty Images Source: Getty Images

Brother Rick Kelly, also a Nissan driver and team-owner, is confident the changes to the car will help them buy into the 2014 V8 Supercars championship fight.

"The guys at Nissan Motorsport have put in a huge amount of work over the last six months to identify what on our car is hindering us in a straight line,'' Kelly said.

"We have had to undertake a lot of research to work out exactly what it was. We have worked that out and implemented those changes over the Christmas break so it is now time to hit the track and see where it was out.''

Kelly confirmed the design process was a muli-national operation that stretched from Europe to Asia.

"We have done a lot of it ourselves but we have had a lot of assistance from Nissan and NISMO,'' Kelly said.

"We have had more help from Europe more than anything and one of the resources they provided was assisting us with information on how to make the aero quicker.

"We are all a lot wiser 12 months down the track but we also have new cars coming in like the Volvo. We are confident we have made a lot of progress but we need to race now to see exactly where we are at.''

Kelly said he was not motivated by beating new manufacturer Volvo.

"Our mission is simply to get the most out of what we have,'' Kelly said.

"We are confident that we have now matched the others in terms of straight-line speed.''

Kelly was not expecting rival team to claim Nissan had received an unfair advantage with the sport's governing body approving the redesigned aero package.

"And if they do whinge it is up to V8 Supercars to make sure that we are all equal and we all have a fair shot,'' Kelly said.

"We need to have the opportunity to win if we go out there and do our best. I think it will still be a big ask for us to win a championship this year. While we have been working on our aero and our engine, they other's have been working on suspension and other areas that they haven't had time to work. All I want to do is get to the end of the year and say we have been able to get the most out of our car. If this year I can get into the top six, that will put us in a great position for 2015.''


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