George hails 'genius' Farrell

By Sports Desk February 11, 2019

Jamie George hailed Owen Farrell as a "genius" after he produced another inspired display in England's Six Nations thrashing of Italy.

Farrell showed his all-round class, thriving in his role as captain in a 44-8 thumping of Les Bleus at Twickenham on Sunday.

Hooker George waxed lyrical over his Saracens and England team-mate following his latest masterclass.

"The bloke's a genius." said George. "I never see him have a bad game and that's why he's one of the best players in the world, if not the best player in the world.

"In my eyes, it's amazing to be playing with a fly-half and captain who is as dominant as he is and who leads from the front in the way that he does.

"Owen's been a captain and leader for a long time now. It's not a new thing for us but he does it really well and it brings the best out of him in terms of his game.

"He's performing really well."

England are top of the table after bonus-point wins over Ireland and France, but George says there is room for improvement ahead of a potentially decisive showdown with Wales in Cardiff a week on Saturday.

"We have to be aware that we did well against France but recognise that it wasn't the perfect performance," said the forward.

"We really did a lot of analysis. We focused on ourselves a lot this week and tried to make sure we put our best performance out there.

"We still didn't do that so an exciting thing for us is there's still a lot to come. The important thing for us is to keep the ball rolling."

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    This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Australia ball-tampering scandal that rocked world cricket. 

    During the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town in March 2018, Australia opening batsman Cameron Bancroft was caught on camera attempting to change the condition of the ball with a piece of sandpaper that he subsequently hid down the front of his trousers. 

    Bancroft, captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner were subsequently banned by Cricket Australia (CA), as the cricketing fraternity expressed its severe condemnation of such a blatant act of cheating. 

    Bancroft is back playing while Smith and Warner's lengthier suspensions are set to come to an end - in a World Cup and Ashes year, no less. 

    Below, we recap the events of a damaging 12 months for Australian cricket.

     

    March 24, 2018: During day three at Newlands, television replays begin to emerge of Bancroft rubbing the ball with sandpaper, which he then hides down his whites.

    March 24: Bancroft and Smith face the media after the day's play, admitting - along with the "leadership group" - their plot to manipulate the ball, although they claim the foreign object was tape. Bancroft confirms he has been charged by the International Cricket Council (ICC) while Smith insists he will not resign as skipper.

    March 25: Amid rising condemnation, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull is scathing in his assessment of the issue, saying the plan to cheat "beggars belief". CA promises to investigate.

    March 25: Shortly before the start of day four, it is confirmed Smith and Warner will relinquish their leadership roles for the remainder of the Test, with Tim Paine taking over as captain.

    March 25: The ICC announces that Smith has been suspended for the fourth Test, although Bancroft is free to play. Australia collapse from 57-0 to 107 all out to lose by 322 runs in Cape Town.

    March 27: Smith, Bancroft and Warner are all sent home from the tour. CA decrees they were the only individuals who knew of the plan. Matt Renshaw, Joe Burns and Glenn Maxwell are called up.

    March 28: CA hands Smith and Warner one-year bans from international and domestic cricket. Bancroft is suspended for nine months, while Warner will not be considered for any leadership roles in future. James Sutherland, CEO of CA, reiterates that head coach Darren Lehmann knew nothing of the plan. It is confirmed Bancroft used sandpaper and not tape on the ball.

    March 29: An 'absolutely devastated' Smith breaks down in tears when addressing the media upon his return to Sydney. Bancroft also faces reporters and expresses remorse for his part in the fiasco.

    March 29: Lehmann confirms he will resign from his post after the fourth Test. Sutherland insists he will not follow suit. Somerset cancel plans for Bancroft to join as the county's overseas player for 2018.

    March 31: Speaking to the media at the Sydney Cricket Ground, Warner takes full responsibility for his actions while adding he has a "tiny ray of hope" that he will play for Australia again.

    April 6: CA launches a review into "cultural, organisational and governance issues", employing an independent, player-driven panel to advise on future steps.

    April 11: As expected, Smith, Warner and Bancroft are absent from CA's contract list for 2018-19.

    May 2: Former opening batsman Justin Langer is appointed as Lehmann's successor as head coach.

    June 3: Smith and Warner are each selected to play in the inaugural Global T20 Canada tournament. The pair later feature in the Caribbean and Bangladesh Premier Leagues, as well as Australian grade cricket.

    June 13: During the first ODI between the sides at The Oval, England fans mock Australia's plight, distributing sandpaper marked with "4" and "6" to celebrate boundaries.

    October 29: CA slammed as "arrogant" and "controlling" in the results of the body's independent review. 

    December 26: In the build-up to the Boxing Day Test against India, Bancroft gives an interview during which he suggests the plan to tamper with the ball was Warner's. "I didn't know any better," says Bancroft.

    December 30: Bancroft returns from his ban and scores two for Perth Scorchers in a Big Bash League defeat to Hobart Hurricanes.

    March 8, 2019: Although set to be eligible for the final two matches of the ODI series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates following the expiry of their bans, Smith and Warner are not included in the Australia squad.

    March 21: Durham announce Bancroft as their new captain for the County Championship and One-Day Cup ahead of the start of the English domestic season.

  • Sterling demands UEFA makes an example of Montenegro after alleged racist abuse Sterling demands UEFA makes an example of Montenegro after alleged racist abuse

    Raheem Sterling urged UEFA to take "a proper stance" against racism by issuing Montenegro with a stadium ban after he and England team-mate Danny Rose were allegedly targeted by monkey chants in Podgorica on Monday.

    England ran out impressive 5-1 winners in the Euro 2020 qualifier, but the match was overshadowed by apparent racist abuse, with Sterling appearing to react while celebrating the fifth goal.

    Manager Gareth Southgate claimed Rose was targeted after picking up a yellow card in second-half stoppage time, while Callum Hudson-Odoi said he heard "monkey stuff".

    UEFA has often been accused of not punishing incidents of racist abuse harshly enough, and Sterling was mindful of that when demanding European football's governing body comes down hard on Montenegro.

    When asked by Sky Sports if a stadium ban should be issued, Sterling said: "Yeah, it's got to be something that serious for them and make them think twice about ever doing something like that again.

    "I can only, we can only, the FA can only do so much. We've got to leave this to the people in charge to make a proper stance on it.

    "Just banning one or two people is not going to change anything, you've got to make [an example] – even if it was our fans, I'd be saying the same thing.

    "The people in charge need to actually do it [punish] as a whole, the whole [of the] Montenegro fans. I don't know, I'm not the one who makes the rules, but they've got to do something that makes a real stance.

    "It's 2019 now, I keep saying it. It's a shame to see this still going on. We can only bring awareness to the situation.

    "It's now time for the people in charge to put a real stamp on it. You can fine someone, but what's that going to do?

    "You've got to make it harder, you've got to punish the whole [group of] fans, [so] that [they] can't come to the ground.

    "You've got to do something to really make them think twice, because if their team can't play with fans, it means it's going to be difficult for them, so it's got to be something to make them think twice about."

  • We are equal – Hudson-Odoi slams 'monkey' chants We are equal – Hudson-Odoi slams 'monkey' chants

    Callum Hudson-Odoi described "monkey" chants by Montenegro supporters as "unacceptable" and hopes that UEFA will deal with it following England's Euro 2020 qualifier.

    Gareth Southgate's side ran out 5-1 winners, but alleged racist abuse directed at England players towards the end of the Group A contest threatens to overshadow Monday's match, with Raheem Sterling appearing to react to the chants while celebrating the fifth goal.

    Proceedings got feisty late on in Podgorica as Danny Rose was booked for a heavy challenge, and it was then that reporters in the stadium claimed abuse was aimed at the Tottenham full-back.

    Chelsea forward Hudson-Odoi – making his first start for the Three Lions – confirmed he heard "monkey stuff" from the stands and the 18-year-old hopes robust action will be taken.

    "I don't think discrimination should be anywhere, we are equal," Hudson-Odoi told beIN Sports.

    "We have to play a fair game and enjoy the moment, but when you're hearing stuff like that from the fans, it's not right, it's unacceptable. Hopefully UEFA deal with it properly.

    "When I went over there, me and Rose heard it, they were saying: 'oohh ah ah', monkey stuff. We have to keep our heads, have a strong mentality.

    "Hopefully Rose is okay, and we'll have a chat about what happened, but he's got a strong mentality, he's a strong guy, and hopefully UEFA deal with it. It's not right at all.

    "Raheem always helped, he's been talking to me about it, saying: 'listen, don't worry about it, it's football, people do it, it's not right, but you've got to stay strong'.

    "I've spoken to him and Rose about it at the same time, and they said that in football you always get things like that, people will always be rude, say things you don't want to hear.

    "Sometimes you've got to block it out of your heads, but it should not happen in football. It's unacceptable."

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