Warriors make Storm prop Fa’asuamaleaui bumper offer: report

Melbourne Storm could lose emerging star Tino Fa'asuamaleaui after the 2020 season as multiple NRL clubs chase the towering prop.

Stuff.co.nz reported on Monday that the New Zealand Warriors had a verbal agreement with the Queensland-raised forward for a four-year deal worth $700,000 per season.

Tino Fa’asuamaleaui. Credit:Getty Images

Fa'asuamaleaui, standing at 197 centimetres and weighing in at 107 kilograms, played five games for the Storm in 2019 and is under contract for 2020 but free to negotiate his next deal. While the Storm would love to keep him, they cannot match an offer of that level.

NRL sources suggest the Gold Coast Titans were another club competing with the Warriors to sign Fa'asuamaleaui, who is expected to remain with Melbourne in 2020 even if he signs a deal with another club for 2021.

Storm stars Josh Addo-Carr, Cameron Munster and Jahrome Hughes made their return to pre-season training on Monday after extended breaks due to international commitments with every listed player except skipper Cameron Smith back at training.

Smith is scheduled to return from his "long-service" leave in early January.

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Jose Mourinho believes Spurs team to avoid in Champions League draw

‘They know we have a good team, there are better options than Tottenham’: Jose Mourinho believes his Spurs side will be one to avoid in the Champions League last-16 draw

  • Draw for the last-16 of the Champions League takes place on Monday
  • All four English clubs will discover their knockout round opponents in Nyon
  • Tottenham can play Barcelona, Juventus, PSG, Valencia or RB Leipzig 
  • And Spurs manager Jose Mourinho believes all will want to dodge his team 

Jose Mourinho believes Tottenham will be a team to avoid in the Champions League knockout stages.

Spurs, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, will find out their opponents for the last 16 on Monday as the draw takes place in Switzerland.

They finished second in Group B, meaning they can be drawn against one of Barcelona, Paris St Germain, Juventus, Valencia or RB Leipzig.

Jose Mourinho believes his Tottenham side will be one everyone wants to avoid in the draw for the Champions League last-16, which takes place in Switzerland on Monday lunchtime

Mourinho and his assistant coach Joao Sacramento celebrates Spurs’ winner at Wolves 

Mourinho reckons those five teams will be hoping to avoid his side.

‘We have five options,’ he said. ‘We don’t have much to choose.

‘Basically every team has five or six options in the draw, the teams that finish first they have better luck than to get Tottenham.

‘They have better options than Tottenham, so every team that finished first and has better options than Tottenham, if they get Tottenham in the draw I think they will be very happy to play in our stadium but they know we have a good team.’

Reigning champions Liverpool, who beat Spurs in last season’s final, will be hoping to avoid a horror draw.

The draw for the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League takes place on Monday at 11am GMT

How does the draw work? 

The Champions League group winners will be seeded and runners-up unseeded.

The eight seeded and eight unseeded teams are placed in two separate bowls, with one picked from each to determine each of the eight two-legged last-16 ties. Unseeded teams will play the home leg first.

Teams can not face any side from their own nation (I.E Premier League sides cannot be drawn against another Premier League outfit) and neither can they face a team they competed against in the group stage.

Seeded

PSG (FRA, Group A)

Bayern Munich (GER, Group B)

Manchester City (ENG, Group C) 

Juventus (ITA, Group D) 

Liverpool (ENG, Group E) 

Barcelona (ESP, Group F)

RB Leipzig (GER, Group G)

Valencia (ESP, Group H)  

Unseeded

Real Madrid (ESP, Group A)

Tottenham (ENG, Group B)

Atalanta (ITA, Group C) 

Atletico Madrid (ESP, Group D) 

Napoli (ITA, Group E) 

Dortmund (GER, Group F)

Lyon (FRA, Group G)

Chelsea (ENG, Group H) 

An extra-time Jan Vertonghen winner gave Spurs all three points at Wolves on Sunday

The big Belgian powered home the header, hoisting Spurs to within three points of Chelsea

Mourinho leapt into familiar wild celebrations as Vertonghen’s header went in the pouring rain

They could be paired with either Real Madrid or city rivals Atletico, with Borussia Dortmund, Lyon or Atalanta their other possible opponents.

Four of those five teams could also be waiting for City, with Napoli a possible opponent instead of Atalanta, who they met in the group stage.

Chelsea look set to get a tough draw as they could face Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, PSG or Leipzig.

Liverpool and City as group winners get a second leg at home, while Spurs and Chelsea will be away.

The first legs of the last 16 will be played over 18/19 and 25/26 February, with the return legs on 10/11 and 17/18 March.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Wolves will find out their Europa League round of 32 opponents later on Monday.

 


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Europa League draw simulator: Man Utd vs Rangers, Celtic vs Wolves, Arsenal boost

Five British teams are in the pot for the Europa League knockout stages, with the draw for the last 32 set to take place this afternoon. Manchester United are the biggest name in the hat after topping their group while Arsenal also secured a favourable seeding despite inconsistent displays so far this season.

United confirmed their spot in the next round with two matches to spare, allowing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to rotate his squad against Astana and AZ Alkmaar.

The youthful Red Devils were still able to gather the points necessary to secure a first-place finish, standing them in good stead for a favourable draw.

And Arsenal ended the opening stages of the competition two points clear of Eintracht Frankfurt, despite a defeat and two draws from their six group matches.

The Premier League giants are joined in the last 32 by 2018/19 surprise package Wolverhampton Wanderers after Nuno Espirito Santo’s men finished a comfortable second in Group K behind Braga.

JUST IN: Europa League draw: When is it? Who can Man Utd, Arsenal, Celtic and Rangers face next?

And Scottish football is enjoying a resurgence in Europe with both Celtic and Rangers into the knockout stages this season.

Neil Lennon’s Hoops topped their group ahead of CFR Cluj, having pulled off two spectacular wins over Lazio, handing them a better chance of progressing deeper into the tournament.

And Rangers came second behind Porto to put Steven Gerrard’s men in the hat, although they are now at risk of a tough fixture.

The 32 clubs are split into two pots, with the 12 group winners and the four best third-ranked teams from the Champions League group stage all seeded.

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  • Steven Gerrard makes statement on future as Rangers boss

No team can play a club from their own Europa League group or match up against a team from their own nation.

And Rangers could be set to face Manchester United, according to our latest simulated draw.

Using draw.inker.one to predict how the next round will shape up, the Gers will welcome United to Ibrox on February 20 before travelling to Old Trafford for the second leg a week later.

Wolves are set to go up against Celtic in an all-British tie while Arsenal have a decent draw against Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets – but how could the rest of the draw play out?

READ MORE

  • Champions League draw simulator: Liverpool get Real Madrid

Europa League last 32 draw simulated

AZ Alkmaar vs Red Bull Salzburg

Bayer Leverkusen vs Benfica

APOEL vs Gent

Wolfsburg vs Braga

FC Copenhagen vs Sevilla

Shakhtar Donetsk vs LASK

Ludogorets vs Arsenal

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Inter Milan

Rangers vs Manchester United

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs Celtic

Getafe vs Basaksehir

CFR Cluj vs FC Porto

Club Brugge vs Basel

Sporting Lisbon vs Malmo

Roma vs Espanyol

Olympiakos vs Ajax

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Power Rankings: Jayhawks new No. 1; Memphis moves back onto list

Another week, another No. 1 conundrum. The top of the rankings has been an undesirable destination for teams this season, with four No. 1 teams losing in the first six weeks of the season. The latest was Louisville, which sat atop the Power Rankings for two weeks before falling to Texas Tech in the Jimmy V Classic last Tuesday.

Ohio State was the obvious choice to take its turn on the No. 1 merry-go-round, but the Buckeyes lost by 13 at Minnesota on Sunday night.

So that leaves two candidates to move up to the top of the rankings: Kansas and Gonzaga.

The Jayhawks were right behind Michigan State entering the season, but Bill Self’s team lost by two to Duke on opening night and have had to slowly climb its way back up the pecking order. They won the Maui Invitational before Thanksgiving, and own wins over Dayton, BYU, Colorado and a couple solid mid-majors in East Tennessee State and UNC Greensboro.

Gonzaga beat up on bad teams for the first three weeks of the season, but then went to the Battle 4 Atlantis and beat Oregon in overtime before getting blown out by Michigan. The Zags have really boosted their resume over the last two weeks, getting a pair of true road wins at Washington and Arizona.

Here’s how I settle the debate. Gonzaga has the better wins and certainly has the better wins away from home, but the Bulldogs also lost to a worse team and were blown out in that game. And if the two teams played tomorrow on a neutral court, I think I’d lean toward Kansas. Those two things give the Jayhawks the very slight edge in this week’s Power Rankings.

There’s another key week for both teams coming up. Kansas is visiting Villanova and Gonzaga is hosting North Carolina. If the Jayhawks can’t win on the road, then we’re headed for the sixth No. 1 of the season and that decision will be much easier.

1. Kansas Jayhawks (9-1)
Previous ranking:
3
This week: at Villanova (Saturday)

With games against Milwaukee and UMKC out of the way, Kansas now faces 21 consecutive power-conference opponents the rest of the way. The Jayhawks head to Villanova and Stanford the next two weekends before Big 12 play, and the only break from conference play is a home game against Tennessee in late January. In fact, every opponent Kansas faces the rest of the season is ranked inside the top 90 in both the BPI and KenPom. And here’s another wrinkle. The Jayhawks haven’t played a true road game yet this season; that’s about to change. Five of Kansas’ next seven games are on the road.

2. Gonzaga Bulldogs (11-1)
Previous ranking:
5
This week: vs. North Carolina (Wednesday), vs. Eastern Washington (Saturday)

In the past two and a half weeks, Gonzaga has wins away from home over Oregon, Washington and Arizona. Aside from earning honorary Pac-12 champion consideration, those victories also give the Bulldogs arguably the best away-from-home résumé in the country. And star big man Killian Tillie might not even be 100% yet. So yes, Mark Few once again has the Zags back in the national discussion — and in the mix for yet another top seed in the NCAA tournament. There’s no rest for Gonzaga, though. Up next is a visit from North Carolina. The key in that game will come on the glass; UNC is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the country, and Gonzaga protects the defensive glass at an elite level.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes (9-1)
Previous ranking:
2
This week: vs. Southeast Missouri State (Tuesday), vs. Kentucky in Las Vegas (Saturday)

Ohio State was set to be the no-brainer No. 1 team in the country with a road win at Minnesota on Sunday night … but Marcus Carr and the Golden Gophers had other ideas. Carr had 35 points as Richard Pitino’s team handed the Buckeyes their first loss of the season. Ohio State was without second-leading scorer and top 3-point shooter Duane Washington Jr., who is out with a rib injury. But either way, it’s a bad loss — as Minnesota entered Sunday with a 4-5 record and coming off a 20-point loss to Iowa. The Buckeyes could regain some momentum this week, as they will face Southeast Missouri State and then head to Las Vegas to face Kentucky. Will Washington be healthy for the game against the Wildcats?

4. Louisville Cardinals (10-1)
Previous ranking:
1
This week: vs. Miami (Ohio) (Wednesday)

Even during Louisville’s 9-0 start, there were concerns about the Cardinals’ guard play, especially at the point of attack. It really came to the forefront against Texas Tech, with Darius Perry and Lamarr Kimble combining for six points and seven turnovers. Tech pressured the ball in the half court and made the Cardinals uncomfortable trying to run their offense. There is some hope that a healthy David Johnson could help the situation. The 6-foot-5 freshman missed the first four games of the season after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery but played a season-high 17 minutes against Eastern Kentucky and could see an increased role moving forward.

5. Duke Blue Devils (9-1)
Previous ranking:
7
This week: vs. Wofford (Thursday)

After playing 10 games in the first 31 days of the season, the Blue Devils play only two games between Dec. 7 and Dec. 31. The last time we saw Mike Krzyzewski’s team in action, he was expanding the rotation and finding some bench help after a stretch of contests in which he had to rely almost exclusively on his starters. Joey Baker had 16 points against Winthrop and 11 against Michigan State, while Jordan Goldwire had 10 points against Virginia Tech and eight steals in his past three games. Jack White also slotted into the starting lineup the past two games, with Krzyzewski opting to go with a bigger frontcourt.

6. Baylor Bears (8-1)
Previous ranking:
9
This week: vs. UT Martin (Wednesday)

Baylor has had two of its three worst offensive performances of the season in the past 10 days against Arizona and Butler, scoring fewer than 0.90 points per possession, but the Bears gutted out two impressive home wins. But what’s been going on for Baylor at that end of the floor? Perimeter shooting is one of the issues. The Bears went a combined 12-for-51 from behind the arc in those two games after shooting 39.6% in the first seven games of the season. Jared Butler needs to find his rhythm again, too. Butler averaged 10.5 points and 1.0 assist on 6-for-24 shooting in the two games; he’s averaging 17.4 points and 3.0 assists on the season.

7. Maryland Terrapins (10-1)
Previous ranking:
4
This week: at Seton Hall (Thursday)

The Terrapins’ tendency to get down early in games finally caught up to them against Penn State last week, as the Nittany Lions handed Maryland its first loss. Mark Turgeon’s team has only two more games until full-time Big Ten play: at Seton Hall and home vs. Bryant. Seton Hall scoring star Myles Powell is unlikely to play against the Terps on Thursday after suffering a concussion against Rutgers over the weekend. If Powell does recover in time, it will be yet another opposing star guard Maryland will look to limit. The Terps have done a pretty good job so far this season, most notably against Marquette’s Markus Howard, who had six points on 12 shots last month.

8. Kentucky Wildcats (8-1)
Previous ranking:
8
This week: vs. Utah in Las Vegas (Wednesday), vs. Ohio State in Las Vegas (Saturday)

Saturday’s win over Georgia Tech was Kentucky’s second-best win of the season, but the Wildcats’ schedule is about to get considerably tougher over the next couple of weeks. After a neutral-site game against Utah, Kentucky faces Ohio State in Las Vegas and then returns home to play Louisville. With Nate Sestina out injured and EJ Montgomery struggling with consistency, freshman Keion Brooks has been a bright spot. He’s averaged 12.5 points in Kentucky’s past two games, while also contributing on the glass and defensively. He’s versatile and can fill a variety of frontcourt roles. Brooks might be passing Kahlil Whitney in the rotation.

9. Auburn Tigers (9-0)
Previous ranking:
10
This week: vs. NC State (Thursday), vs. Lehigh (Saturday)

The Tigers are one of just five undefeated teams in the country, but they have struggled in back-to-back wins against Furman and Saint Louis. Against the Paladins, they shot 4-for-25 from behind the arc and turned it over 19 times. And against the Billikens, they got down early and only made 12 2-point shots all game. Some of it can be traced back to Samir Doughty, who was playing out of his mind in November and has now totaled 21 points on 6-for-18 shooting with six turnovers the past two games. Danjel Purifoy, who can create mismatches with his size and shooting ability, has totaled eight points on 11 shots the past two games.

10. Oregon Ducks (8-2)
Previous ranking:
14
This week: vs. Montana (Wednesday), vs. Texas Southern (Saturday)

Oregon’s collection of wins got much better on Saturday, when the Ducks beat Michigan on the road and Memphis took down Tennessee in Knoxville. Dana Altman’s club now owns victories against the Wolverines, Tigers, Seton Hall and Houston. Payton Pritchard’s performance against Michigan was one of the better late-game efforts we’ve seen this season; he consistently took Zavier Simpson off the dribble and finished at the rim. Pritchard was unstoppable. And now Oregon gets the services of freshman N’Faly Dante, who was ineligible for the first six weeks. Dante will add elite rebounding and shot-blocking ability.

11. Virginia Cavaliers (8-1)
Previous ranking:
11
This week: vs. Stony Brook (Wednesday), vs. South Carolina (Sunday)

The Cavaliers don’t leave Charlottesville until Jan. 7, when they head to Boston College. Until then, we’ll see whether the offense that hasn’t cracked 65 points yet this season has become more efficient at that end of the floor. And before you say that Virginia’s offense is always ugly, the Cavaliers were No. 2 in adjusted offensive efficiency last season and scored 70 or more points 20 times. The biggest difference between last season and this season (No. 134 in adjusted offensive efficiency), outside of not having a trio of since-departed pros to bail them out? It’s been 3-point shooting. Virginia is shooting 24.9% from behind the arc compared to 39.5% a year ago.

12. Memphis Tigers (9-1)
Previous ranking:
In the waiting room
This week: vs. Jackson State (Saturday)

If someone wrote a script on how Memphis would lose to Tennessee, Saturday’s game was essentially it. The Tigers were down two starters in James Wiseman and Lester Quinones; it was an ugly game that totaled 98 points; and some of the Tigers’ freshmen really struggled to score early. Yet Memphis went into Thompson-Boling Arena and ended the Volunteers’ 31-game home winning streak (the longest active streak of any Division I team). Sophomore guards Tyler Harris and Alex Lomax came off the bench to spark the first-half comeback. That’s a big win for Memphis’ résumé, but it’s also a huge step forward for this young Tigers team.

13. Dayton Flyers (8-1)
Previous ranking:
12
This week: vs. North Texas (Tuesday), vs. Colorado in Chicago (Saturday)

Obi Toppin rightfully gets most of the attention for Dayton’s hot start, but Anthony Grant is starting to get terrific bench production from former Michigan transfer Ibi Watson. Watson couldn’t carve out a consistent role during his two seasons in Ann Arbor, and he started slowly on the offensive end at Dayton, but over the past four games, Watson has really stepped up. During that stretch, Watson is averaging 14.8 points and 2.3 assists while shooting 13-for-23 (56.5%) from 3-point range. He had 20 points and four 3-pointers off the bench against Drake on Saturday.

14. Michigan Wolverines (8-3)
Previous ranking:
6
This week: vs. Presbyterian (Saturday)

It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Michigan since it returned from the Battle 4 Atlantis with a top-five ranking. The Wolverines have lost three of their past four, with the lone win coming over Iowa — in a game in which Michigan allowed 91 points. The culprit in the losses to Louisville and Illinois was clear: 3-point shooting. The Wolverines shot a combined 6-for-37 from the perimeter in those two games, after shooting 42.3% in their eight wins. Against Oregon on Saturday, it looked like more of the same in the first half, but Michigan got hot after halftime only to fall victim to Payton Pritchard’s dominant performance down the stretch.

15. San Diego State Aztecs (10-0)
Previous ranking:
In the waiting room
This week: vs. San Diego Christian (Wednesday), vs. Utah in Los Angeles (Saturday)

The Aztecs were off last week but move into the rankings after losses by Butler and Xavier. If you’re looking for the team to go unbeaten the longest this season, San Diego State might be your best bet. The Aztecs are likely to be favored in each of their next four games before a trip to Utah State on Jan. 4. If they win that one on the road, there might not be another obvious spot for a defeat. With that said, San Diego State has already had a closer-than-expected game in league play, beating San Jose State — a team with two Division I wins — by just two points.

16. Arizona Wildcats (10-2)
Previous ranking:
13
This week: vs. St. John’s in San Francisco (Saturday)

A furious comeback came up just short against Gonzaga on Saturday night, meaning the Wildcats missed another chance at a marquee nonconference win. They are going to head into Pac-12 play with their best win coming over Illinois at home, followed by a neutral-court victory over Wake Forest. Not exactly headliners for the résumé. Star freshman Nico Mannion has really struggled shooting the ball against both Baylor and Gonzaga, going a combined 6-for-34 in the two games. That said, Arizona having a chance in the final minute against Baylor, and leading Gonzaga for half the game without getting much scoring from Mannion could bode well down the road.

Dropped out: Butler (15), Xavier (16)

In the waiting room

Butler: A one-point loss at Baylor dropped the Bulldogs out of the rankings, but they don’t go too far. Kamar Baldwin had been playing at an All-American level but went just 9-for-24 from the field against the Bears and then scored two points on eight shots against Southern.

Penn State: Pat Chambers’ team is a blown lead against Ole Miss away from being a consensus top-20 team in the country. The Nittany Lions’ lone loss besides the November defeat to the Rebels came against Ohio State. They own wins over Maryland, Georgetown, Syracuse, Alabama, Yale and Wake Forest.

Villanova: The Wildcats don’t have a marquee win to their name yet, with their best win thus far coming over Mississippi State. But their only losses are away from home to Ohio State and Baylor, and they will have a huge chance at a statement victory this weekend when Kansas comes to town.

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Did the Patriots cheat by videotaping Bengals? Examining evidence on both sides of the NFL’s investigation

The Patriots, who in 2007 were fined $250,000 and docked a first-round draft pick as a result of the infamous Spygate scandal, do not get the benefit of the doubt as the subject of illegal videotaping allegations.

Then again, New England can’t be foolish enough to do this again, can it?

The NFL is investigating footage confiscated from a Patriots staffer who was seen filming the field area from the press box during Sunday’s Browns-Bengals game. The Patriots, who are preparing to play the Bengals this week, claim they were not recording Cincinnati coaches’ signals as suspected; rather, the Pats say they were shooting background footage for a video feature about the day-to-day work of their advanced scouting department.

Both the Bengals and the NFL, neither of whom were notified about the Patriots’ presence at the game in Cleveland (the Browns credentialed the film crew for the game), have a copy of the tape, which is now out of the hands of New England as the league investigates.

The tape should make clear that New England violated the NFL’s policy on filming opponents’ sideline; the Patriots already admitted as much in a statement issued Monday night. So the question becomes why they did it, and to what extent?

Is this a sequel of sorts to the Spygate scandal in which the Patriots deliberately cheated, or simply a misunderstanding and, as New England claims, an unintended oversight on the part of the film crew?

Below are both sides of the story, pieced together with various accounts reported in the media and a statement from the Patriots.

DECOURCY: Patriots facing a credibility problem in defense of videotaping

Why the Patriots might be guilty of cheating

On Sunday, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer released footage of the confrontation in the press box between the Patriots videographers and Bengals security. It confirms reports that the Patriots videographers attempted to delete the footage upon being noticed by security.

A source told ESPN “a Bengals employee was watching the videographer/cameraman who identified himself as a Robert Kraft employee. The Bengals employee kept an eye on that monitor, (and) the shot was of the Bengals coaches and staff on the sidelines for the entire 1st quarter.”

According to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr., who cited sources who have seen the footage, “it shows about eight minutes of footage focusing on recording the Bengals’ sideline. It’s a direct view of the sideline as coaches make signals for plays. This isn’t an over-the-shoulder of the advanced scout who is doing his job stuff. This is shooting the sideline. For an extended period of time. The egregious nature of the video is why it set off the firestorm it did during the game with the Bengals executives in the press box.”

When the videographer/cameraman was confronted and interviewed by Bengals/NFL security, he “asked if they could just delete the footage and it all be forgotten,” according to ESPN.

In a statement, the Patriots admitted the production crew “inappropriately filmed the field from the press box.”

The incident occurred a week before New England was scheduled to play Cincinnati, which has a first-year coach in Zac Taylor. As ESPN notes, there are advantages to be gained in filming signals used by a first-year coaching staff.

While the Browns approved credentials for the video crew, the Patriots failed to notify the NFL and the Bengals of their intention to gain footage in Cleveland.

These specific allegations of cheating bear a striking resemblance to the 2007 Spygate scandal for which the Patriots were punished. The following quote is from a 2015 ESPN investigative piece that breaks down the measures New England took to film opponents’ signals and plays: “The Patriots’ videographers were told to look like media members, to tape over their team logos or turn their sweatshirt inside out, to wear credentials that said Patriots TV or Kraft Productions. The videographers also were provided with excuses for what to tell NFL security if asked what they were doing: Tell them you’re filming the quarterbacks. Or the kickers. Or footage for a team show.”

Why the Patriots might be innocent

The Patriots claim the video crew was at the Browns-Bengals game “to capture one part of a longer feature on the Patriots scouting department, in this case a Patriots pro personnel scout while he was working in the press box.” The seven previous episodes of the video feature series, titled “Do Your Job,” are archived on patriots.com.

While the Patriots admitted the video crew inappropriately filmed the field from the press box, they said there was “no intention” of using the footage for any other purpose: “We understand and acknowledge that our video crew, which included independent contractors who shot the video, unknowingly violated a league policy by filming the field and sideline from the press box. When questioned, the crew immediately turned over all footage to the league and cooperated fully.”

During a radio interview Monday night, New England coach Bill Belichick claimed he and the football operations staff have nothing to do with the team’s video production staff. “We have never seen anything that they’ve shot,” he said, “other than what has come down on TV.”

David Mondillo, the Kraft Sports Entertainment producer who was on site in Cleveland and has since been suspended, released a statement Sunday that explains his actions.

According to The Washington Post, severe punishments are not expected as a result of the NFL’s investigation, which suggests the league in its review of the footage has not seen anything that resembles cheating.

• The Bengals, 1-13, are the worst team in the NFL. Why would the 11-3 Patriots need the advantage of taped signals ahead of their Week 15 game?

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Warne calls for shock Aussie spin bolter

Australian great Shane Warne has called on Test selectors to pick uncapped Mitchell Swepson as a second spin option during the series against New Zealand.

Warne declared Swepson the nation’s next best spin-bowling option behind established star Nathan Lyon and said the pair could play together in the third Test in Sydney.

Warne’s call comes amid growing concern over the lack of depth of Australia’s spin stocks, with 14 tweakers used at Test level since Warne’s retirement in 2007.

Only Lyon and fellow off-spinner Nathan Hauritz have managed to spend significant amounts of time in the Australian team since the Victorian leg-spin legend’s career came to an end.

There is currently no clear second option behind Lyon.

Warne tipped Swepson to make his Test debut within six months and implored selectors to consider the 26-year-old leg-spinner sooner rather than later.

“Swepson, to me, has elevated himself already this year,” Warne said. “If something happened to Nathan Lyon, I think Mitchell Swepson would probably come into the side.

“No disrespect to (Ashton) Agar and all those guys. Those guys could come in and they’d do a very good job.

“But I’d like to see us pick a wrist spinner, an attacking option, not a safe option with a finger spinner.”

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Swepson, who has one T20 international appearance under his belt, has taken 12 wickets at 26.58 in four Sheffield Shield matches for Queensland this season. His record includes impressive match figures of 7/92 in a win over Victoria at the MCG in November and 2/107 against NSW at the SCG this month.

Veteran former Test left-armer Steve O’Keefe (NSW) is the only spin bowler with more Shield wickets (14 at 18.42) than Swepson this season.

Mitchell Swepson should be the next cab off the rank, according to Warne.Source:AAP

Warne said it was up to state selectors to ensure the next wave of spin bowlers were given opportunities to develop into capable Test players.

“If anything happens to Nathan Lyon we’re in real trouble because he’s so good, but I think we’ve got to look at these next spinners,” he said.

“It’s up to each of the state sides to play these young spinners in Sheffield Shield games so they get used to bowling in all conditions.

“The spinners in all states have to have exposure to the different conditions and the states have to remember that they’re not just there for the betterment of their own state.

“They’re there for the betterment of Australian cricket, so they’ve got to encourage these young spinners.”

Lyon is the only spin bowler named in Australia’s squad for the Boxing Day Test against the Black Caps at the MCG.

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Gilchrist burns Wade in hilarious tweet after repeated body blows

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Adam Gilchrist has torched Matthew Wade in a hilarious tweet in reference to his bizarre innings that saw him wear a number of balls from Neil Wagner in the first Test against New Zealand.

Wade copped body blow after body blow from Neil Wagner on day four at Perth Stadium before falling to Colin de Grandhomme for 17.

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Gilchrist posted a an image of Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore copping baseballs to the head and body in a batting cage, captioned with Wade’s name.

😂 @FoxCricket 🦊 pic.twitter.com/1vw8GZMMKi

Wade was struck repeatedly by Wagner, later revealing he did not want to succumb to the trap that had claimed so many of Australia’s wickets, despite eventually pulling de Grandhomme straight to deep square leg.

“He (Wade) said he found him (Wagner) really tough,” Mike Hussey told Fox Cricket of Wade’s innings.

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“He was just going to allow him to hit the body. He wasn’t going to play too many shots.

“He found it hard to play the pull shot against him (on day three) because the ball is quite soft and he was worried about getting caught in the deep.

Matthew Wade chose to let a number of balls hit him in the body.Source:Getty Images

“He was happy to duck and dive a little bit early in his innings, but he also didn’t want to play much with the bat because he was worried about bringing in the close in fielders. So he thought, ‘well I’m just going to let it hit me’.”

After Gilchrist’s hilarious tweet a new nickname might be on the cards for Wade.

***

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Originally published asGilchrist burns Wade in hilarious tweet after repeated body blows

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Dak Prescott’s massive Cowboys coin-toss gaffe leaves fans fuming in LA Rams win

Dak Prescott left Dallas Cowboys fans furious after his request was misheard by referee Walt Anderson.

The NFC East side saw off last year’s Super Bowl finalists 44-21 in a crushing win.

And one man they have to thank is Prescott, who made two touchdown passes and 212 passing yards.

But the quarterback was involved in a huge error at the start of the game at the AT&T Stadium.

In the clip, Anderson is throwing the coin in the air before the first kick.

And Prescott has called it right, earning the choice of whether to kick or receive.

The 26-year-old quickly replies: “Defence.

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“We want to kick it.

“We defer to second half.”

And the NFL official accepts this while the team prepares for the kick off.

Anderson did not appear, though, to hear the 26-year-old asking to defer, thinking the Cowboys start wanted to start the game with a kick.

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This allowed Rams quarterback Jared Goff to say they would receive in the second half.

It meant the NFC West side were allowed to receive the ball in the first and second half.

The NFL officials did correct the decision, though, as the Rams kicked to start the second half.

This footage has been viewed more than 370,000 times on Twitter.

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And Cowboys fans were left fuming at the referee’s miscommunications with Prescott.

“What the actual f***,” one said.

Another commented: “You hate to see it.”

While a third held nothing back.

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“Anderson should be fired for being old and deaf,” they said.

And a fourth simply added: “Wow.”

It comes as Prescott is in a contract crisis with the Cowboys after months of failed talks.

Despite the five-touchdown win, a place in the play-offs is not secure as they sit second to the Philadelphia Eagles.

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Jenas slams Ozil for walking off pitch and kicking gloves

‘You’ve not done anything – get off the pitch’: Jermaine Jenas slams Arsenal star Mesut Ozil for ambling off pitch and kicking gloves when he was substituted… just weeks after Granit Xhaka told fans to ‘f*** off’

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Match of the Day pundit Jermaine Jenas has slammed Mesut Ozil after the Arsenal midfielder reacted angrily to being substituted during the humiliating 3-0 defeat by Manchester City.   

The German vented his frustration by kicking his gloves along the touchline as he was taken off by interim manager Freddie Ljungberg on 59 minutes, with Emile Smith-Rowe his replacement.

But the 31-year-old then proceeded to kick the turf before brushing past the Arsenal interim manager and Per Mertesacker. 

Jermaine Jenas has criticised Mesut Ozil after he showed disrespect to Freddie Ljungberg

Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil showed his frustrations by kicking his gloves along the touchline 

The Arsenal crowd initially booed the substitution and their reaction gradually intensified as Ozil made his way off at a leisurely pace. 

The boos did not however draw the same reaction from the German as Granit Xhaka when he was booed off in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October.

The Swiss international – who was Gunners captain at the time – appeared to tell his own fans to ‘f*** off as he walked off the field. 

Former Tottenham player Jenas has encouraged Ljungberg to persevere with the young players who showed professionalism at the Emirates Stadium, and he believes Gunners fans were well within their rights to jeer Ozil. 

The incident did not eclipse the ire shown by Granit Xhaka against Crystal Palace in October

He said: ‘I’m at a place with Arsenal and Freddie Ljungberg – how he finished the game with all of the young players he had on I think I would just go out with that.

‘From what I saw from Mesut Ozil and what I’ve seen from Mesut Ozil since he’s come back into the team. 

‘He’s always made a scapegoat because of the size of the name and the player and he’s not been delivering but shows petulance when he’s strolling off the pitch at 3-0, kicking his gloves away, that’s not helping, you’ve not done anything – get off the pitch.’   

Ljungberg bizarrely claimed he was ‘proud’ of his players after the disappointing defeat, but has also vowed to ‘deal with’ Ozil in the coming days. 




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