26 Oct 2021

Today's sports news: What you need to know

12:47 pm on 26 October 2021

The Wellington Phoenix have named their first three Australian-based players for the upcoming A-League Women's Season.

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Photo: Photosport

Te Reremoana Walker, Isabel Gomez and Cushla Rue have all agreed to one-year terms with the Club, and will join up with the Phoenix squad once the team arrives in NSW early next month.

Walker, a 17-year-old Kiwi midfielder, has been based in New South Wales since 2017, played five seasons in the NSW competition before joining up with the Newcastle Jets Academy last season.

She represented New Zealand as an under-17 international player.

Isabel Gomez, an 18-year-old Australian midfielder, joins the squad with A-League experience after spending last season with the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Cushla Rue is an 18-year-old Australian defender who has also played in the NSW competition over four seasons for the Football NSW Institute, amassing 19 goals over 75 matches played.

She made the Young Matildas Squad Training Camp in June this year.

Walker will take up the eleventh and final Kiwi spot in the Phoenix A-League Women's squad, while Gomez and Rue are the Club's first signings to be included in the APL-mandated seven Australian spots.

The Phoenix first ever A-League Women's match is scheduled to be played against Western Sydney Wanderers on December 3.

More injury worries for Wales

Winger Alex Cuthbert has been added to the Wales squad for the November internationals starting with the All Blacks this weekend in Cardiff.

Wales and Lions outside back Liam Williams.

Liam Williams Photo: Photosport

Cuthbert hasn't played for Wales since 2017.

Coach Wayne Pivac gave Cuthbert the callup following fitness doubts about British and Irish Lions full-back Liam Williams.

Williams has trained with Wales but has not played for Scarlets this season since having his appendix removed.

Another fitness concern is flanker Ellis Jenkins, who came off in Cardiff's game against Sharks on 16 October with a rib problem.

Wales will be severely depleted when they take on the All Blacks at the Principality Stadium with England-based players Dan Biggar, Callum Sheedy, Louis Rees-Zammit, Taulupe Faletau, Nick Tompkins, Thomas Young and Christ Tshiunza are unavailable because the game falls outside World Rugby's international window.

Wales are also facing an injury crisis, with Josh Navidi, Justin Tipuric, George North, Dan Lydiate, James Botham and full-back Leigh Halfpenny ruled out of the entire autumn series.


Gymnasts sought to implement change

Applications to join the Gymnastics New Zealand Steering Committee are now open.

The Steering Committee will oversee the design of a work programme to implement the Independent Review recommendations.

Seven roles are currently being recruited for including five gymnasts with with lived experience of harm from a mix of experience across codes, clubs, genders, and other roles within the gymnastics community; one human rights specialist and one child and youth specialist member with experience implementing practical safeguarding strategies.

The Steering Committee will operate over the next 15 months.

Stokes to go to Australia.

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been added to the squad for the upcoming Ashes tour of Australia.

Ben Stokes of England.


Stokes had taken an indefinite break from cricket in July to focus on his mental health, while also recovering from a second operation on a broken finger, and was not included in coach Chris Silverwood's initial squad for the series.

However, the ECB said in a statement that the New Zealand-born 30-year-old had received the green light to resume training and would leave for Australia on Nov. 4.

"I had a break to prioritise my mental wellbeing and I got my finger sorted," said Stokes, who has played 71 tests for England.

"I am looking forward to seeing my mates and being on the field with them. I'm ready for Australia."

The five-test Ashes series is due to begin in Brisbane on Dec. 8. Australia retained the Ashes when the teams last met in 2019 in England after a 2-2 series draw.

Stokes last played a test match in March against India and was not considered for selection for the ongoing Twenty20 World Cup, where England defeated defending champions West Indies in their opening match.


Big day ahead for Canterbury

Defending Plunket Shield champions Canterbury face a long fourth day at the wicket if they're to at least save their opening game of the season.

Canterbury are 61 without loss chasing 450 to beat Central at Hagley Oval.

Wellington Firebirds have victory in their sights with just 98 runs required on the final day against Otago at the Basin Reserve.

Wellington are 95 without loss chasing 193 for the win.

WTA says unvaccinated players will be allowed in Australia

The Women's Tennis Association says unvaccinated players are set to be allowed to play in the Australian Open but face two weeks of hard quarantine and regular testing.

Rod Laver Arena, Australian Open Tennis, Melbourne.

Melbourne Park Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Australian ministers had said players without jabs would not be able to enter the country for the tournament.

But the WTA players' council says it has been told all competitors will be able to go to Melbourne in January.

It said Tennis Australia thought entry rules would "improve significantly".

Last week, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said he did not think an unvaccinated tennis player would be given a visa to enter Australia.

A significant number of tennis players - including 35% of those on the men's ATP Tour - remain unvaccinated.

Novak Djokovic, the men's world number one and nine-time Australian Open champion, said last week he did not want to reveal his vaccination status.

The 34-year-old Serb added he was unsure whether he would defend his title in Melbourne, where he could win a record-breaking 21st men's Grand Slam title.


Pressure mounts on OGS

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer faced intense criticism and speculation over his future after his team's humiliating 5-0 defeat at home by Liverpool in the Premier League yesterday.

Manchester Untied Manager Ole Gunnar .


United's worst ever defeat at home to their arch-rivals killed in 90 minutes the short-lived hype that surrounded Cristiano Ronaldo's return to the club and the hopes of a title challenge that it raised.

But it also brought into the spotlight the Norwegian's management and coaching of the team as he approaches three years in charge of the side.

While United were booed off the field at halftime, as they trailed 4-0 at the break for the first time in the Premier League era, there were no chants for Solskjaer to be fired.

Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher, a lead analyst on Sky Sports, said that Solskjaer could not compare to his old club's manager Juergen Klopp, Manchester City's Pep Guardiola or Chelsea's German boss Thomas Tuchel.

"I think Ole has done a good job but to take on Klopp, Tuchel and Pep, Manchester United need a better manager," he said.

United have earned just one point out of the last 12 available and are already eight points behind leaders Chelsea after just nine games of the campaign.

Since the golden era of Alex Ferguson's reign, in which United won 13 Premier League titles, ended in 2013, the club have not come close to winning the league and David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho struggled to get the team back to the top.


Two new teams in IPL

The Indian Premier League has unveiled two new teams for the Twenty20 competition, with the Lucknow and Ahmedabad franchises sold for a combined $2.4 billion.

Kyle Jamieson of Royal Challengers Bangalore IPL 2021.


The RP-Sanjiv Goenka Group, which owned the now-defunct Pune franchise for two IPL campaigns, bid $1.3 billion for the Lucknow outfit while Irelia Company Pte. Ltd. (CVC Capital Partners) bid a little over $1 billion for the Ahmedabad side.

Both teams will compete in the competition from the 2022 edition, which will have 10 teams and 74 matches where each side will play seven home and seven away games.

The league had approved a proposal in December to add two franchises to the world's richest Twenty20 competition, which has an estimated brand value of $6.8 billion.

ESPNcricinfo reported that 22 companies had purchased the tender document but only nine were at the bidding process that took place behind closed doors in Dubai earlier in the day.


Two more into WTA Finals

Poland's Iga Swiatek and Spaniard Paula Badosa will make their WTA Finals debut next month after booking their spots for the season-ending tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Iga Swiatek of Poland wins French Open 2020.

Iga Swiatek Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Swiatek, last year's French Open champion, made at least the fourth round of each of the four majors in 2021 while also winning two WTA titles this season.

The 20-year-old will be the first Polish woman to play the WTA Finals since Agnieszka Radwanska in 2016.

Badosa, 23, has had a breakthrough season in 2021 and won titles in Belgrade and Indian Wells while also reaching the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for her best Grand Slam performance.

Badosa has reached a career-high ranking of 13th and will be joined in the Nov. 10-17 tournament in Guadalajara by compatriot and two-time major winner Garbine Muguruza.

The Finals, contested by the world's top eight singles players and eight doubles teams, was moved out of China's Shenzhen after last year's event was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aryna Sabalenka, Barbora Krejcikova, Karolina Pliskova and Maria Sakkari had earlier qualified in the singles field but world number one Australian Ash Barty's withdrawal has opened up a spot.


Beijing introduces rules for winter Olympians

Competitors in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be subject to daily tests for COVID-19 and will be required to remain in a closed loop that includes transport between the various games venues.

China, where measures to tackle COVID-19 are among the world's strictest, has already said international spectators will not be allowed to enter the country for the Games which will run from Feb. 4 to Feb. 20.

China has all-but shut its borders to international travellers, with the number of international flights drastically reduced from pre-COVID levels, and games organisers said on Monday that domestic and foreign airlines will be encouraged to operate temporary flights available only to participants.

Games participants will need to be tested for COVID-19 before arrival, and athletes and team officials must be vaccinated to avoid 21 days in quarantine, with some exceptions for medical reasons granted on a case-by-case basis.

Competitors will also be encouraged to wear masks and avoid spaces that are enclosed, crowded or involve close contact while every organisation taking part in the Games will be asked to nominate COVID-19 Liaison Officers.

Vaccination is not mandatory for the Beijing Games but some national Olympic committees, including that of the United States and Canada, are requiring team members to be vaccinated.


Cricketers fined

Sri Lanka fast bowler Lahiru Kumara and Bangladesh batter Liton Das have been fined over a standoff during their Super 12 match in the Twenty20 World Cup in Sharjah.

Kumara was fined 25% of his match fee while Das lost 15% for the incident, which occurred during the fifth over of Bangladesh's innings.

The Sri Lankan fast bowler walked towards Das after dismissing him, provoking an aggressive reaction from the batter. They had to be separated by the umpires and other players.

Both players accepted the proposed sanctions, the ICC said.

Sri Lanka won the match by five wickets.