LISTEN: Will Greenwood’s podcast – Henry Slade

On this week’s podcast episode, Will Greenwood and Rupert Cox catch up with England and Exeter Chiefs centre Henry Slade.

Our duo chat to 29-time capped England international about his life in lockdown and the coronavirus worries he has experienced during these strange times.

The 27-year-old also discusses playing professional rugby as a Type 1 diabetic, and also the conversations he has held with the Exeter Chiefs doctor in relation to Covid-19.

Slade also chats playing at inside-centre, outside-centre and at out-half, and which is his favourite position to date.

Greenwood and Slade also face off in a quiz, while the latter talks through his role in Jonny May’s try against Australia in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

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Izack Rodda and two other Queensland Reds ending contracts leaves Rugby Australia unfazed

Rugby Australia do not expect a rush of players to walk away from their contracts after they agreed to release three Queensland Reds team-mates who refused to take pay cuts during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Wallabies lock Izack Rodda, fly-half Isaac Lucas and lock Harry Hockings were stood down by the Reds last Monday for refusing to accept the salary reductions and their agent said on Friday they had sought termination of their contracts.

Rugby Australia interim chief executive Rob Clarke said they had released the trio on Saturday, but he doubted the decision would set a precedent for other players to demand a release.

  • Reds trio terminate contracts after rejecting pay cuts
  • Rodda stood down for rejecting pay cut

“We haven’t had any indication from any other players that they are looking beyond our shores,” said Clarke. “We understand the challenges the players are going through, it’s no different from the staff.

“But every single business in this country and around the world are facing the same decisions (and) other rugby economies are suffering as much as we are.

“I suspect players thinking this is a ticket to a golden pot will be sorely disappointed.”

Rugby Australia implemented a 60% pay cut for its players last month after tense negotiations with the Rugby Union Players’ Association amid the governing body’s financial struggles that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.

Almost 190 players accepted the pay cuts, while RA also furloughed about 75% of its staff in March.

Clarke said the RA had ruled out taking legal action against the trio as it was always “the last resort”.

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Warrick Gelant: Springbok joins Stormers from Bulls

South Africa World Cup-winning full-back Warrick Gelant has joined the Stormers from their great Super Rugby rivals the Bulls.

Gelant 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.

The 25-year-old was a free agent after his contract with the Bulls expired.

“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.

“With Dillyn Leyds leaving, we couldn’t have asked for anyone better to step into the 15 jersey. I am sure his presence will also have a hugely positive influence on the players around him.

“Warrick is a deadly finisher with a wonderful feel for the game and awareness of space, which is just what we need for the talent we already have in the backline to thrive.”

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.

He has scored three tries in nine international appearances since making his debut against Italy in November 2017.

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Marcus Rashford's new tattoo is an image of his own brand's logo

Tatt’s one way to announce yourself! Marcus Rashford returned to Manchester United training with new ink-work on his right leg… his own ‘MR’ brand logo complete with angel wings

  • Marcus Rashford resumed training with a Manchester United coach on Sunday
  • Eagle-eyed supporters could see the striker sporting a new tattoo on his leg
  • The ink depicts the England international’s ‘MR’ brand logo with a set of wings 

Marcus Rashford’s brand new tattoo is a depiction of his own brand’s logo.

The Manchester United striker returned to training this weekend, and was spotted with the ball at his feet while receiving instructions from a coach. 

The England international’s new ink was spotted for the first time as he was put through his paces at Altrincham FC’s ground.

Marcus Rashford displayed a new tattoo as he went through a training session on Sunday

The striker’s new ink is a replica of his own brand’s logo, which he uses for his Instagram 

The Manchester United star’s emblem is used as the profile image for social media accounts

He then drove on to United’s Carrington base where he underwent coronavirus testing along with the rest of his team-mates. 

Rashford and his colleagues will return to small-group training on Tuesday after clubs voted their approval of phase one of project restart.

The 22-year-old has spoken out during the crisis to reveal his own struggles with lockdown in a period that coincided with his recovery from a back injury.  

‘I have sort of had my head down. It has been a tough period for me, the last few months, obviously being injured,’ Rashford told the official club website. 

Rashford his currently coming back from injury after picking up a back problem in January

‘But in the last few weeks I have been able to step on it a bit more, so I have just been getting my head down and working.

‘I am privileged enough to have the equipment I need at home so it is not much different for me as I do a lot of work at home anyway, so I am just staying indoors and making sure I am eating right.

‘For me motivation is always quite simple. It changes as time goes on, but now that everything outside the pitch is sort of dealt with, I can just focus on myself and improving myself.’




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Eddie Jones: England head coach says some players will return in ‘terrible’ condition

Rugby players not committed to maintaining their fitness during the coronavirus lockdown will return in “terrible” condition when the sport resumes, says England head coach Eddie Jones.

Rugby, like many other sports, has come to a standstill due to the pandemic and competitions have been suspended since March. The Six Nations tournament was put on hold with England at the top the standings.

With World Rugby postponing all test matches scheduled for July due to travel curbs and health protocols, a quick return for the contact sport is not on the cards.

  • World Rugby postpones July Tests
  • RFU ‘to consider’ individual training return

“You are going to find out about your players, you are going to find out which of your players really want to get better and which players only want to get better to keep the coach happy,” Jones said in an online coaching class with other coaches.

“Some players will come out of this better, some players will come out of this terrible. How your team comes out of it, you don’t know. But the big thing for the team is not what you do now, it’s what you do when you get back together.”

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Super Rugby: New Zealand teams to play domestic series from 13 June

New Zealand’s Super Rugby mini-series will begin on 13 June after the government confirmed it would lower its coronavirus alert level from Thursday.

Lowering the level from three to two means professional sport can resume behind closed doors.

New Zealand is the first major rugby nation to announce a restart to competition during the pandemic.

“It’s fantastic news for the game right across the country,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said.

“It’s been a challenging time right around the country so if this acts in any way to provide leadership and hope and some inspiration to Kiwis that are doing it tough, it will be fantastic.

“I think a lot of people around the world are obviously watching us and being in touch around how we’re approaching it, not only for New Zealand but right around the sporting world. So it’s critical we do it well.”

New Zealand has recorded under 1,500 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths.

The country’s five Super Rugby teams – Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders – will play each other home and away over 10 weeks, with two matches every weekend in the ‘Super Rugby Aotearoa’ tournament.

Teams will use chartered planes to travel on match days and players will be checked daily for coronavirus symptoms.

The wider Super Rugby tournament – which includes teams from Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Japan – was suspended in March and there are no current plans for it to resume.

A decision over the All Blacks’ scheduled home Tests in July against Wales and Scotland is expected within the next two weeks and New Zealand Rugby is yet to announce arrangements for the resumption of women’s rugby.

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Coronavirus: England forwards coach Matt Proudfoot learning to cope with training restrictions

England forwards coach Matt Proudfoot is getting used to overcoming issues concerning contact-training as the RFU looks to navigate a route out of the coronavirus crisis.

Proudfoot, who masterminded the Springboks’ World Cup final demolition of England before joining up with Eddie Jones’ squad, is currently in his native South Africa where he is linking up with his new colleagues through social media.

The inability to maintain tough physical training during the lockdown presents a particular problem for forwards, and Proudfoot admits it may take “a bit of time” before they are able to restore some form of normality to proceedings.

Proudfoot said: “Our strength and conditioning guys have been in contact with the players and clubs, and tried to formulate a process that is best suited to the individual.

“Rather than a generic programme that most teams would follow, we’ve tried to look at the player from an holistic point of view – where could we improve him in his home environment where we couldn’t have improved him in camp.

“Contact training is something that is going to take a bit of time. Once we can start training in smaller groups and institute smaller group situations, things can start to change a little bit.”

Stepping into the England set-up for the first time for this year’s now postponed Six Nations, Proudfoot says he has noticed fundamental differences in the approach of his former employees and England coach Eddie Jones.

“What’s been very different for me is the way Eddie produces his system,” added Proudfoot.

“It’s very much about wanting to build the best environment and he pushes every part of the department to be the best they can be.

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Eli Manning: Daniel Jones' second year will be 'easier'

Eli Manning knew it had to be a little uncomfortable to be Daniel Jones in 2019.

A first-round pick of the Giants and the anointed successor to Manning, the khakis-and-backpack-wearing Jones was tasked with learning how to exist and attempt to succeed in the high-pressure New York market, while also processing the ins and outs of quarterbacking in the NFL. All the while, Giants fans called for him to replace Manning — the longtime face of the franchise who happened to be in the same meeting room as Jones every day.

Imagine working closely with your manager for an entire year while all of your coworkers spend their lunch breaks loudly talking about how they feel it’s time you replace your manager and send him off to the pastures of retirement. While all of this is going on, your best source of advice and direction is your manager. Oh, and the executive level of your company is on the verge of being fired — to ensure that you, the new addition, are set up as perfectly as possible to one day run this place.

This is where Jones — a talented quarterback with the off-field appearance of a sophomore mathematics major — found himself.

Manning believes now Jones is well-positioned to take the reins, thanks in part to Manning’s acceptance of AARP and pension withdrawals. The "world’s best boss" mug now belongs to the young gun.

"I think it will be easier this year for him to kinda step up as that leader,” Manning said Monday on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "Last year was probably awkward for him, me being there, me being in meeting rooms and just kinda the whole dynamic. Me being gone and hey, he is the quarterback, he is the guy, for him to have that control and the authority over receivers and offensive line.

"I think he’s proven to be tough and works hard, he’s done all the right things, he has gone in with that approach of keeping his head down and not saying more than he has to, working hard and earning the respect from the teammates. Now he can elevate that where now he’s in charge. The questions are coming to him from the coordinator, he’s gonna have to give his voice and his opinion on things.”

Being the guy should help Jones plenty. After all, when you’re the chosen leader, it doesn’t give much wiggle room for dispute. There’s no viable Plan B lurking behind you while the glint of two Super Bowl rings catches the corner of your eye.

"He’s got to learn a new offense, and get total control of that and earn the respect of a new coaching staff,” Manning said of Jones. "I think he’ll do a great job. They’ll figure out how to play and how to win football games in the NFL, the style, and I think he’s got the respect of the team and he’ll go out there and have a great year.”

Manning had the luxury of just one coach (Tom Coughlin) for the majority of his career, which included two victories on football’s grandest stage. Jones is already on coach No. 2, and with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic making things unusual in the 2020 offseason, he has an extra challenge in attempting to learn new coach Joe Judge’s offense.

That’s not to say it can’t be done, though. After all, Jones is the guy now. He doesn’t have to fret about a camp competition; he just needs to arrive to camp with a full grasp of the offense with which he’s being entrusted.

Without Manning existing as the face of the Giants’ glory days, Jones can proceed forward. We’ll see if that takes him to similarly great heights.

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Jalen Green says new Pathway program is his 'best route' to the NBA

Top high school prospect Jalen Green said signing to the G League as part of the new Pathway program is his ‘best route’ to the NBA.

Green was wooed by Memphis and the college’s fan for months. Thousands chanted “We want Jalen” at the team’s first event that he visited this past season as he nodded in approval and acknowledgement. Even Grizzlies rookie guard Ja Morant was in on the sales pitch, doing all he could to convince Green to come to his city.

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New Zealand offer support to English cricket amid coronavirus crisis

‘We really feel for the ECB right now’: New Zealand offer support to English cricket amid the coronavirus crisis… and they could host ‘home’ matches in the winter if season is wiped out

  • The English game is in a difficult position amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis 
  • ECB have already put the season back twice and summer could be wiped out
  • New Zealand chief David White said they were keen to help ‘in any way’
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

New Zealand cricket officials have called for the sport to rally round the English game as it faces the possibility of a wipeout this summer because of the coronavirus.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison revealed on Friday that he had offers ‘on the table’ from both New Zealand and Australia, as English cricket explores all options in a bid to fulfil its busy fixture list.

The chief executive of the New Zealand board, David White, told the Mail on Sunday: ‘We really feel for the ECB right now, given the disruption to their season, and are wanting to help in any way we can.

New Zealand cricket chief David White says they will help England ‘in any way’ they can

‘I’m in constant contact with Tom and have communicated that offer to him, should it become possible at our end. We’re part of a global cricket family, and we need to support each other.’

The offer is not understood to include specifics at this stage, but New Zealand – who have had success staving off the pandemic, suffering only 18 deaths so far – could come into play this winter as a venue for England to stage ‘home’ matches if they struggle to host games this summer.

The ECB have now put back the start of the 2020 season twice – first to May 28, and now to July 1 – though there is an acceptance at Lord’s that the government’s social-distancing measures may rule out any cricket at all before the summer’s scheduled conclusion at the end of September.

Much will depend on whether cricket’s administrators can persuade the government of the efficacy of proposed measures to create bio-secure venues, which in theory would lower the risk of infection.

Tom Harrison revealed that he had offers ‘on the table’ from both New Zealand and Australia

 

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