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David Pocock
Australia coach to roll the dice on Pocock selection for WC
22 August 2019, 4:37 PM

Australia coach Michael Cheika is expected to roll the dice and include David Pocock in his World Cup (WC) squad to be released on Friday despite growing concerns over the loose forward’s lack of match fitness ahead of the global showpiece in Japan.

The 31-year-old had been expected to feature in at least one match during the Rugby Championship and two Bledisloe Cup tests against New Zealand, but selectors kept him wrapped in cotton wool throughout.

Pocock has not featured in Wallabies gold since a test against Italy last November and he barely played Super Rugby this year while struggling with a problematic calf injury.

If selected, he would have only one warm up before the World Cup, a farewell test against Samoa on Sept. 7, to prove his body is still up to the rigours of test rugby.

Pocock returned to full training before the Wallabies’ last test against the All Blacks but ended up playing no part in the 36-0 humiliation at Eden Park.

Concern over the no-show has been compounded by the caginess of the Wallabies’ selectors over Pocock’s fitness.

“There’s no clarity off the field nor on it, especially after Australia’s near record loss to the All Blacks on Saturday,” the Canberra Times complained earlier this week.

As a masterful ball-poacher and one of the world’s most fierce combatants at the breakdown, Pocock is arguably worth waiting for, even if his return might mean change to a back row that appeared set after victory over the All Blacks in Perth.

The back three of captain and open-side flanker Michael Hooper, blindside Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and rookie number eight Isi Naisarani performed well in the 47-26 defeat of the world champions at Perth Stadium, so Pocock’s eventual resumption may end up launched from the bench.

Cheika answered many of his selection posers against the All Blacks, confirming that the once-wayward James O’Connor is a handy asset at outside centre and that Nic White will challenge Will Genia for the starting scrumhalf role.

There is less certainty on the fringes, however, particularly around the outside backs and playmaking positions.

Nick Phipps, once Genia’s understudy and a veteran of two World Cups, has fallen off the radar, leaving hope for ACT Brumbies’ Joe Powell to be included if Cheika opts to avoid the risk of bringing only two scrumhalves to Japan.

Kurtley Beale has locked up his old position at fullback following the sacking of Israel Folau, with Dane Haylett-Petty a likely backup for the 15 jersey.

Pacy outside backs Jack Maddocks and Tom Banks may be nervous, however.

They could be shut out if Cheika opts to back the highly rated teenager Jordan Petaia after his recovery from a foot injury, while giving the versatile Adam Ashley-Cooper a fourth World Cup campaign.

Tevita Kuridrani, the starting 13 through most of the 2015 World Cup in England, is also no certainty after a subdued Rugby Championship outside Samu Kerevi.

With no Australian playing contract announced, time may have run out for England-based lock Will Skelton’s hopes of a late inclusion, leaving Luke Jones and Rob Simmons the likely second row reserves after Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda and Adam Coleman.

At 34 and without international rugby since the England test last November, Tatafu Polota-Nau could be set for his third World Cup as a reserve hooker behind Tolu Latu and Folau Fainga’a, which would edge out three-test rake Jordan Uelese.

Accident Scene
Remains of N11 Mpumalanga crash victims handed to families
22 August 2019, 3:00 PM

The remains of seven of the eight victims who were burnt beyond recognition during a horrific accident on the N11 near Middleburg in Mpumalanga have been handed over to their families. This after DNA tests had been completed.

The eight victims were killed during a head on collision between a heavy vehicle and minibus last month. Community Safety MEC Gabisile Tshabalala says only one family have not received their sample because the family is from outside the country.

“Only one that did not yet receive the sample, obviously because they from outside the country from Mozambique. So we are waiting because we do that process through relatives. We need a family member who is going to volunteer that they are going to take the sample. So we had that challenge, so I want to believe that we will have a progress because we are waiting for the relative to come forward so that we do the process,” says Tshabalala.

Joe Root
England decide to bowl first in 3rd Ashes test
22 August 2019, 1:54 PM

England have won the toss and decided to bowl first in the third Ashes cricket test against Australia at Headingley in Leeds. The start has been delayed due to rain and the overcast conditions are ideal for bowling.

England have retained the side from the drawn second test at Lord’s, while Australia made three changes. Opening batsman Marcus Harris replaces Cameron Bancroft, while fast bowler James Pattinson comes in for seamer Peter Siddle.

Klerksdorp-born Marnus Labuschagne will bat at number four in place of the injured Steve Smith who is still suffering from the after effects of the blow he took to the head on day four of the Lord’s test match. Australia lead the five-match series one-nil.

‘SABC, PSL saga should be resolved’
20 August 2019, 9:00 PM

It’s in the best interest of all the stakeholders involved to find a solution in the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) broadcast rights saga and resolve it; that’s the sentiment expressed by a leading market research company. There’s a current blackout of ABSA Premiership and MTN 8 matches on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) platforms.

Managing Director of leading Marketing research company Nielsen, Kelvin Watt adds that sponsors will not pull the plug on the PSL because they understand the SABC’s current financial situation.

The SABC could not reach an agreement with Supersport on a sub-licence contract at the start of the current football season. Those who are most affected are the millions of South Africans who have been left with no access to live matches on the public broadcaster’s television and radio platforms.

However, they are not the only ones on the receiving end. The SABC has a bigger audience than Supersport with sponsors losing out on exposure.

Although it’s relatively early days in the new season, it’s far from ideal for the PSL and its sponsors.

Currently, ABSA who are the title sponsors of the league, and MTN with the MTN 8 underway, are directly affected.

“If we can get past the first quarter of the season that starts to become serious; obviously from an MTN perspective it’s a little bit pressing than most because they have two more weekends of the MTN 8 left. The ABSA premiership is going to be played until the end of May. Nedbank Cup, Telkom Cup those sorts of things are still coming well into the season.  I think certainly my view it’s an interest of all the parties to have resolved the matter long before it becomes an issue specifically for those competitions; right now for the MTN 8 it’s obviously a bit of a concern,” says Watt.

The SABC is also set to lose out, not only commercially, but on greater content and audiences. The sponsors, on the other hand, could optimise on other platforms to reach the fans.

“From a sponsorship perspective television exposure is not the only important return on investment for sponsors, so far a lot of that has been in the game.  The benefit of sponsoring football in South Africa and anywhere else in the world is greater than television: social and digital channels have grown enormously in the past number of years, so they still have those accesses to fans available to them,” says Watt.

While the standoff continues football-loving fans bear the brunt.

Watt feels it’s a matter that can be resolved between the stakeholders. Despite the SABC providing a far bigger footprint, other free-to-air channels could decide to jump into the market.

“Personally, I feel it’s opening up an incredible opportunity to someone like etv, its open view platforms to potentially get involved in football. From a SABC perspective, I think that’s one thing that’s got a concern because there is another free-to-air operator out there,” says Watt.

Meanwhile, the Sports Ministry is reported to have had meetings with both the PSL and the SABC, but they have not resolved anything yet.

Oom Jan STeenberg
Elderly Jan Steenberg hopes government could keep their promises
20 August 2019, 3:36 PM

Elderly Oom Jan Steenberg who is 114-years old and from Colchester wishes government would keep its promises. In his life-time he has seen different government administrations come and go, making promises which are never kept. He’d been a grave yard keeper in Uitenhage for many years before working on a farm. Aside from his pension and a house, he feels he hasn’t benefitted from the government.

Jan Steenberg says he would love the country to be at peace.

“I want peace in our country.  We must live in peace with one another.  Don’t gossip or bad mouth people rather say good things.  Don’t judge it is a sin,” says Jan Steenberg.

The government did assist Jan Steenberg by handing out food and blankets. The government has now promised to fix houses but he is not satisfied that they will keep their promises.

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