The current New Zealand Warriors group won't experience a more unique situation in their careers than the one they have are returning home from. A week ago, the conversation was around how to keep the team in the NRL without the option of returning to New Zealand for home games. Now, after making the decision to remain in Australia for the foreseeable future, they have packed their bags and headed back across the Tasman. With the NRL indefinitely suspended earlier this week, the Warriors were free to return home to those they were forced to leave behind. "It was a sense of relief for some of them in respect to getting back to loved ones," Warriors coach Stephen Kearney told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave of the playing groups reaction to the competition being suspended. "There's also a sense of sadness in not being able to play footy but obviously the situation is much larger than our game of footy – you just have to turn on the telly to see what's happening all over the world and how devastating the situation is." Since setting out for Newcastle ahead of their opening match of the season two weeks ago, the Warriors have been through a range of scenarios. First, they learnt they would be unable to return home to play after the New Zealand Government implemented a mandatory two-week self-isolation period for all travelers entering the country. That was followed by the uncertainty of their immediate future, with suggestions the NRL could continue without them in the competition. The side found a resolution to keep them in the game by relocating to the Gold Coast, where they were based last week and held their opening home game of the season. Now, after all that, the situation changed again when the NRL's biosecurity and pandemic expert recommended the competition be halted due to the threat posed by the rapidly spreading coronavirus. "It was the old cliché of one day at a time," Kearney said of the constantly changing situation the team found itself in. "What happened 24 hours earlier was a totally different situation; it was changing that quickly. "We wanted to commit to playing in the competition and no doubt first up there would have been a little bit of doubt in some boys' minds, but I thought for the most part they handled it really well. I'm really proud of how they went about it in such challenging times. "They were really resilient in the sense that it was an uncertain time and they just got on with the job. They were really well led by Roger (Tuivasa-Sheck), Tohu (Harris), Greeny (Blake Green) and Blairy (Adam Blair). I know the type of characters they are and they just made everyone proud the way they went about it." The Warriors will now join the rest of New Zealand in a government mandated lockdown over the next four weeks in a measure that was put in place in an attempt to slow, or stop, the spread of Covid-19. As of Wednesday, there were 205 cases of the virus in New Zealand; the Ministry of Health confirmed 50 new cases on Tuesday alone. But while the playing group is able to return to their families, Kearney will have to wait longer before he can get home to his, who are based in Brisbane, as he will be in New Zealand to help put plans in place for the players to follow during the lockdown. "I thought it was really important I travel with the team and get the process over the next four weeks planned out and be here during this time, then I'll try get home to my family as soon as all this has settled down a bit," Kearney said. "We'll be sending out a plan for them early next week to follow over the next four weeks while this national lockdown is on. "We've got a bit of a plan around it and it's just about getting through the situation as best we can." • Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website
Kiwi Olympic athletes have said they support a postponement of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, an approach backed jointly by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Paralympics New Zealand and High Performance Sport New Zealand (HPSNZ). New Zealand Olympic Committee CEO Kereyn Smith said she welcomed the feedback gathered in a New Zealand Athletes' Commission survey this morning and thanked athletes for their input."Our focus is first and foremost the athletes," she said. "It has been important to us to give them the opportunity to talk to us. We value their resilience and flexibility and we know working through the changes won't be easy. "We support their position and will now share their views with the IOC as we advocate internationally on behalf of New Zealand athletes and sport. We reiterate the need for a swift decision." Covid19.govt.nz: The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website The sentiment has been supported by Paralympics New Zealand and HPSNZ. "Providing carded athletes with high performance training and other HPSNZ facilities and services has become increasingly challenging," said HPSNZ CEO Michael Scott. "The current Covid-19 environment is not conducive to the sense of fair play which underpins these pinnacle events, as the preparation of New Zealand's athletes and others around the world is hampered to varying degrees. "We fully support current steps to postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games This decision needs to be made quickly to provide the athletes, coaches and support staff with certainty, which will allow them to focus on their wellbeing at this critical time, while resetting and recalibrating for Tokyo." Paralympics New Zealand surveyed Para athletes this morning and also received overwhelming feedback. Paralympics New Zealand boss Fiona Allan said: "Paralympians and Para athletes believed a postponement of the Paralympic Games is the preferred option. This would create a fair, safe and level playing field for all nations especially given the severely hampered training environments. "Our Para athletes and our wider organisation echo the support for a postponement," she said. "Para athletes told us that an early decision is critical to best ensure the wellbeing of all athletes throughout New Zealand. It is imperative that this decision is made quickly to provide certainty." New Zealand Athlete Commission member Sarah Cowley-Ross said New Zealand athletes were adaptable and determined and she had every confidence they could meet the challenges ahead. "New Zealand athletes have long prepared for a July 2020 Olympic Games however the Olympic Movement is founded on humanity and that, right now, must come first," she said. "As the New Zealand Olympic Committee's Athletes' Commission, and on behalf of New Zealand's Olympic athletes, we are asking the IOC to immediately confirm a postponement, using the following four weeks to clarify details. "Each athlete has their own set of individual perspectives and challenges, and we acknowledge those who would have liked the games to occur as scheduled. We wholeheartedly thank all the athletes and their support staff for the time they took to share their views with us." Smith said she thanked HPSNZ and Paralympics New Zealand for their ongoing commitment. She acknowledged the value of the New Zealand high performance sporting system's joint approach to support New Zealand Olympic sports and athletes. The New Zealand Olympic Committee Athletes' Commission is made up of elected athlete representatives of Olympic and Commonwealth sports. It provides input and advice to the New Zealand Olympic Committee on all key decisions and represents the athlete voice on the NZOC Board.
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When Callum Gilbert was 12 he started paddling after school. A couple of years later he got a taste for paddling competitively while at Tauranga Boys' College, sparking a long love of canoe slalom as a sport. Today, the Tauranga man now living in Rotorua is one of two paddlers named to represent New Zealand in canoe slalom at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Olympics newcomer joins Luka Jones, who secured New Zealand's first silver medal in the discipline, in the New Zealand team. Alexandra paddler Finn Butcher has been conditionally selected as a non-travelling reserve. The canoe slalom athletes were named at an event at Wero Whitewater Park - the home of Canoe Slalom New Zealand's High Performance Centre - in Auckland today. Tokyo 2020 will be the fourth Olympic Games for 31-year-old Jones, while Gilbert will be making his Olympic debut after giving up his job as a software engineer three years ago to chase his sporting dreams. "My employers were great but I wasn't able to give 100 per cent to my training while I was there so I made the decision to resign. Looking back on it now it was a good decision and it's been awesome being able to fully commit to the sport," Gilbert says. "It's an amazing opportunity to go to an Olympic Games and I've been really fortunate to have gone to so many," Jones says. Gilbert will compete in the K1, while Jones will compete in both the K1 and C1 events. "I'm over the moon, it's been a long time coming and a lot of work has gone into this so I'm so stoked to have it made official," 24-year-old Gilbert says. Callum Gilbert, a former Tauranga man now living in Rotorua, has been selected for the Tokyo Olympics. Photo / Getty Images "Competing in both events adds another element to the Olympic Games and it's an awesome opportunity to earn a medal," Jones says. "My goal is the same as it was at Rio 2016 and that's to prepare really well and put down a performance that I can be proud of. We're working really hard and I'm in a really good place in my paddling career, from a performance perspective." Both athletes are originally from Tauranga but have strong ties in Rotorua. Jones was part of a Rotorua-based sports academy launched in 2007 and Gilbert now lives at Okere Falls, 20km north of Rotorua. "When I was 12, I got into an after school paddling class then, when I attended Tauranga Boys' College, a teacher picked a few of us to attend nationals. From there, I loved it and that was it." Gilbert had a strong year on the world tour in 2019, with his top result fifth at the London World Cup. He plans to head overseas to train and compete in further World Cups while Jones will also be based overseas from mid-April. New Zealand Olympic Committee chief executive Kereyn Smith says Jones and Gilbert provide an exciting mix of talent. "With Callum also selected there's a great mixture of experience and exciting new talent in this team so we can't wait to watch these athletes compete in Tokyo." Jones is coached by former British paddler Campbell Walsh while Gilbert is coached by Paul Macdermid of Massey University.
Football commentator Chris Milicich joins D'Arcy in studio to discuss the latest from the world of football. On today's episode they discuss the club vs. school issue facing grassroots football and Coronavirus.
World renowned surfer Bethany Hamilton is looking forward to hanging ten at the Piha Pro and talks about her challenging career on the world circuit.
New Zealand Rugby has revealed the creation of an 'All Blacks XV' – a new high-performance squad that will undertake a mini tour of Northern Hemisphere venues this year. The team will play three matches in the last weekend of October and first two weekends of November. NZR Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said the team, which is set to practically function as a second-string or developmental All Blacks side - will provide a new national team aspiration for current professional players. It's not a new innovation – the Junior All Blacks, New Zealand A and Emerging Players have all served a similar purpose in the past before being scrapped – but Cass believes it will have benefits for the depth of New Zealand rugby. "This is a fantastic opportunity for those players to experience a national team environment and prove themselves on the international stage, or for those who have already worn the All Blacks jersey to get more game time at this level and potentially earn a recall to the team. "The high-performance benefits of this team will be significant. It will help to develop the next group of players, many of whom will likely become our future All Blacks, as well as give further opportunities for our coaches and other team personnel. "We also believe that this will aid with retention of players and personnel in New Zealand, which will benefit our Super Rugby clubs and provincial unions as well as the All Blacks," Cass argued. Cass said that the intention was for the All Blacks XV to become a regular national team playing second-tier overseas opposition, and hoped the side would last longer than the similar teams who came before them. "These teams have been sporadic in the past, and we believe that there is great value in making this a regular national team. "Beyond its high-performance role, this new team also has real commercial value for NZR. It will play offshore in growing rugby markets that are of strategic and commercial importance, allowing us to showcase and grow New Zealand's brand of rugby in many more parts of the world," Cass said. New Zealand Rugby Players' Association CEO Rob Nichol said the team was a positive move for players. "Players are excited about the prospects of this team. If they don't quite make the All Blacks touring squad, being able to push their case through Super Rugby and Mitre 10 Cup for selection to the All Blacks XV will be a strong motivator for many. It will provide an opportunity for quality players to tour and represent their country against some tough international opposition, to play alongside players and work with coaches they respect and a platform to continue that push for higher honours," Nichol said. The All Blacks XV's opponents are yet be revealed, with details for their first match set to be announced this afternoon.
Black Caps' captain Kane Williamson reflects on the 2019/2020 cricket season ahead of the upcoming ODI series in Australia.
Discussions have begun on a Kiwi heavyweight blockbusting fight between Joseph Parker and Junior Fa – potentially to be held in Auckland in the middle of the year. The rival factions will hope the fight lives up to the last truly high-profile local boxing scrap – the showdown dubbed the "Fight of the Century" between David Tua and Shane Cameron still holds the record for the highest pay per view numbers in New Zealand. The key to the popularity of that fight at Mystery Creek in 2009, won by Tua via a devastating round-two knockout, was the rivalry that built between the pair, and a Parker v Fa fight could generate similar intensity. Both are New Zealand-born, with Parker, a former world champion, of Samoan descent, and the unbeaten Fa of Tongan descent. Parker and Fa have fought each other four times as amateurs and share two wins each. They have never fought each other as professionals. There is respect between the pair but they are not friends and fireworks could develop between the two camps; a prospect that would have their rival promoters Eddie Hearn and Lou di Bella salivating. "We have made an early start on discussions on a possible blockbuster in Auckland," Parker's manager David Higgins told the Herald today. "David Tua v Shane Cameron remains a record breaker and hopefully this one would also capture the public's imagination. "It makes a lot of sense. Junior is unbeaten and ranked No6 in the world by the WBO, while Joseph is ranked No2. A lot of people back Fa. Obviously as Joe's manager I think he would be the favourite, but Fa is a big unit." Fa's manager Mark Keddell told the Herald: "We'd always be happy to do that fight. But the money would have to be right." That could be a sticking point, added to which is the potential for the negotiations between Englishman Hearn, and American di Bella, to quickly break down. Entering meaningful discussions in an attempt to lock down a deal quickly appears to be the key. Keddell, who suggested Fa would be happy for a similar share of the revenue that Parker enjoyed in his unification defeat to Anthony Joshua (about 34 per cent), added: "We have other options for the middle of the year, so Eddie is going to have to make a meaningful offer to Lou. I know they spoke a day after Joseph's fight in Texas." Higgins confirmed: "We could make this fight happen next, but the numbers would have to work. There are other options on the table." Asked whether he had been in talks with Dazn, a global sports broadcaster about to make its first start in New Zealand in May, Higgins replied: "Sky is the incumbent broadcaster. There have been no formal discussions with Dazn." Parker is coming off an impressive knockout win against American Shawndell Winters in Frisco, near Dallas, and would relish locking in a fight against Fa in Auckland as many of his potential opponents are already locked into deals. Dereck Chisora, Oleksandr Usyk, Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin are all scheduled for fights in May or June. Other potential opponents include a rematch against Andy Ruiz Jr or a fight against Luis Ortiz, but neither match-up would be easy to make. One potential other opponent is American Michael Hunter, a 31-year-old with a 18-1-1 professional record (his loss was to Usyk). After watching Parker's fifth-round knockout of Winters, Hunter called out the Kiwi, with his manager Martin Mikolajczak saying: "Parker is slow on his feet and his cardio is terrible. Michael would definitely KO Parker." Fa, who has a 19-0 professional record, last fought in November - a points victory over American Devin Vargas in Salt Lake City. Parker has a 27-2 pro record.
Blues hooker James Parsons joins D'Arcy Waldegrave in studio to discuss all things rugby thanks to Barfoot and Thompson.