21 May 2020

Today's sports news: What you need to know

1:04 pm on 21 May 2020

Latest - Details released about the first draft for New Zealand NBL show the revamped competition is casting the net far and wide to find players to fill the seven teams' rosters.

NBL General manger Justin Nelson

Justin Nelson Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Some of New Zealand's top locally-based players have shunned the six-week competition which will be played without the Wellington Saints, Southland Sharks and Hawkes Bay Hawks.

The NBL introduced a draft to select 84 players to split into 12-man rosters for the Auckland Huskies, Canterbury Rams, Franklin Bulls, Manawatu Jets, Nelson Giants, Otago Nuggets and Taranaki Mountainairs.

Any male aged over 15 and based in New Zealand or Australia is eligible to enter the first NBL player draft. There is no limit on how many players can put their name forward for potential selection.

The draft will be held on 11 June, which is 12 days before the competition tips off.

NZNBL general manger Justin Nelson expected to get some players trying their luck.

"In some ways there is a bit of nostalgia up for grabs for people being able to say 'I was up for grabs in the first ever NZNBL draft' so I think we may get a few players just keen to see their name in the draft pool, but no doubt the coaches will quickly identify who they are after."

The draw for the 56-game competition based in Auckland has the Airs playing the Giants in the first game on 23 June.

Liverpool players not forced to train

No Liverpool player will be forced to train if he does not feel safe to do so, manager Juergen Klopp said after the English Premier League leaders' first training session for more than nine weeks.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.

Juergen Klopp Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The league has been halted since March 13 due to the COVID-19 pandemic but clubs can now train in small groups.

Klopp told Sky Sports television after a first session with 10 players that he expected all his players to show up but they were under no pressure.

"It's their choice so that's clear," said the German, who had two more training groups later in the day.

"There are no restrictions, no punishment, nothing. So it's their own decision and we will respect that 100%.

Groups of five trained on separate pitches but Klopp said "it looked like football".

The league will decide next week when to allow contact training as it seeks a June restart. Germany's Bundesliga resumed matches last weekend.

Liverpool were 25 points clear of second-placed Manchester City and two wins from their first top-flight title since 1990 when the season was brought to a halt.


Bleyendaal hangs up boots

The former Crusaders first-five Tyler Bleyendaal has been forced to retire from rugby at the age of 29.

Munster's Tyler Bleyendaal kicks a conversion.

Tyler Bleyendaal Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Bleyendaal has hung up his boots with immediate effect because of a neck injury, having last played for his Irish club Munster in November.

Bleyendaal joined Munster in 2015 and qualified to play for Ireland under the residency rule three years later, although he did not receive any international caps.

The New Zealand under-20 representative played three season for the Crusaders before heading overseas.

He played 62 games for Munster and captained them 11 times.

Meanwhile former Hurricane loosie Callum Gibbins has confirmed he will be leaving the Glasgow Warriors at the end of the season.


SVG sweeps Supercars round

Holden driver Shane van Gisbergen has dominated of the seventh round of the Supercars All Stars Eseries winning all three races to take the overall lead from fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin.

Van Gisbergen scored wins at the Charlotte motor speedway and two at the Daytona road course.

McLaughlin had a tough night that included a couple of spins.

Van Gisbergen now has a 64 point advantage over McLaughlin in the series standings.


Hockenheim says they can replace Silverstone

Hockenheim is ready to step in if British quarantine restrictions prevent Silverstone from hosting a Formula One race during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hockenheim race circuit Germany.

Hockenheim Photo: PHOTOSPORT

However the German circuit's boss Jorn Teske says a decision needed to be made soon.

"We are talking with F1, we have spoken about the idea of having a race without spectators here at the circuit," he said.

"We already checked if this could be possible, from dates as well as the legal general point of view. For us, it is an option."

Formula One has said a planned 14-day quarantine for most people entering Britain would rule out a British Grand Prix unless the sport, whose season has yet to start, was granted an exemption.

Silverstone, which this year marks the 70th anniversary of hosting the first world championship race, has been earmarked for two closed-door races following two in Austria in July.

Hockenheim, which hosted the German Grand Prix last year but could not agree a new deal on acceptable terms, is an obvious alternative.


Breakers keen to re-sign trio

New Zealand Breakers owner and CEO Matt Walsh says re-signing star import Scotty Hopson is a "priority" for the team in the offseason.

NZ Breakers Scotty Hopson.

Scotty Hopson Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Walsh also confirmed the club is heavily chasing locals Isaac Fotu and Tai Webster.

Walsh said he would "love to see" Hopson, Fotu and Webster in Breakers uniforms next season, but acknowledged the different situations each player finds themselves in.

Hopson averaged 19.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.7 assists last season and Walsh believes the 30-year-old will have the opportunity to explore NBA options.

Fotu (Universo Treviso - Italy) and Webster (Galatasaray - Turkey) have both been playing overseas but with the COVID-19 pandemic changing the global basketball landscape, Walsh is hoping the duo stay in New Zealand.


South Korean football club fined for using sex dolls

South Korea's K League said its disciplinary committee decided to impose a $130 million fine on FC Seoul for using sex dolls instead of mannequins to fill empty seats in their stadium.

The club placed dolls in seats during a K League match on Sunday to make up for the absence of fans due to COVID-19 restrictions.

"The disciplinary committee decided to take heavy disciplinary action considering the graveness of the incident, caused by the 'real doll', that has greatly insulted and hurt female and family fans and to prevent similar incidents going forward," K League said in a statement.

The club apologised on Monday saying they had failed to check the consignment sent by the supplier, though adding it was not aware the dolls were "adult products".

Some of the dolls had been dressed in the club's kit while others were holding supportive placards. Fans watching the match on television took to social media to raise doubts about the inflatable spectators.


Pulev won't give up Joshua bout

Kubrat Pulev says he will not step away from his shot at the world heavyweight boxing belts and warned Anthony Joshua "you either fight or vacate the title".

Kubrat Pulev

Kubrat Pulev Photo: Photosport

The Bulgarian is mandatory challenger for Joshua's IBF title but their planned bout on June 20 was postponed.

It led to talk of Pulev being paid to step aside so Joshua could face Tyson Fury for all four heavyweight belts.

"I can't understand why we are still postponing instead of fixing a date and venue and getting to work?" said Pulev.

"Enough is enough. I can't wait to win this fight.

Pulev was due to face Briton Joshua in 2017 but withdrew because of injury and was also in mandatory position when Joshua lost to Andy Ruiz Jr in June 2019.

Joshua holds the IBF, WBA and WBO belts and has talked of his desire to face WBC champion Fury, who is due to face Deontay Wilder for a third time when boxing returns following its shutdown because of the coronavrius pandemic.

It would appear the two British heavyweights will need to wait and win their respective fights with neither Wilder nor Pulev appearing likely to accept 'step-aside' money.


Pantano banned

Former Tour de France stage winner Jarlinson Pantano has been handed a four-year suspension after failing an anti-doping test last year.

Colombian Pantano retired last June, two months after he was provisionally suspended following a positive test for the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO).

He had also been suspended by his then Trek-Segafredo team after the test carried out in February, 2019, came back positive.

Pantano, 31, won a Tour de France stage in 2016 and was crowned Colombian time trial champion the following year.


Bok fullback on the move.

South Africa World Cup-winning fullback Warrick Gelant has made the switch from the Bulls to their great Super Rugby rivals the Stormers.

Gelant, 25, will swap Pretoria for Cape Town and has been brought in to fill the gap left by another Springbok, Dillyn Leyds, who has moved to La Rochelle in France.

"Warrick has established himself as one of the most dynamic backline players in South Africa, so we could not be more thrilled to have him on our books going forward," Stormers coach John Dobson said in a statement.

Gelant, who can also play on the wing, was part of the Bok squad that lifted the World Cup in Japan last November, though he did not feature in the match-day squad in the final win over England.