Root reflects ahead of crucial fourth Test

Joe Root’s England have arrived at Old Trafford in a state of reinvention as the new captain acknowledges the important lessons already learned during his short tenure.


Victory in Manchester will deliver a 3-1 series success over South Africa in Root’s maiden series in charge but it has been far from plain sailing.

Sandwiched between impressive victories at Lord’s and The Oval was a 340-run trouncing in the second Test at Trent Bridge.

It was after that mishap that former England captain Michael Vaughan claimed the current team were failing to “respect” Test cricket, specifically with their gung-ho approach to batting in Nottingham.

Asked if the experiences of Trent Bridge could turn out to be a watershed for his developing team, he said: “Maybe slightly. We weren’t good enough, and I think it was important that we sat down and found a way to come back from that. The response the guys came up with was excellent.”

“One thing we can take from last week was that batting approach, playing in that manner,” he added.

“If we try and harness that and repeat that over and over, we will give ourselves the best chance.

“There were very few dismissals in that first innings where we gave our wickets away on a very bowler-friendly surface.”

Root is already beginning to think about fine-tuning plans for the Ashes in November, including settling the batting order, which last week featured two debutants.

Several positions remain far from certain, including that of Keaton Jennings as Cook’s opening partner.

Jennings began his Test career with a century on debut in Mumbai, but averages only 15.33 against South Africa this summer.

Root has been impressed nonetheless by the Durham batsman’s general composure.

”He’s a very level-headed guy. He’s got a very strong character and throughout he’s been very much the same in the way he’s approached his training and in each game as well,” he said.

”It’s great to see someone so light of experience be very mature and go about it in the right way.”

Drug testing dole recipients harmful: RACP

Plans to drug test Australians on welfare won’t work and could seriously harm those battling addiction, says The Royal Australasian College of Physicians.


The RACP – which represents more than 15,000 physicians across Australia and New Zealand – will on Friday lodge its its submission to an inquiry into the federal Social Services Legislation Amendment (Welfare Reform) Bill 2017.

Legislative changes being proposed will force about 5000 Newstart and Youth Allowance recipients to undergo drug testing and subject them to a variety of restrictions if they test positive.

The RACP is “strongly” opposed and is urging the federal government to instead “appropriately” invest in alcohol and drug treatment services.

“RACP members see first-hand the many and varied harms caused by addiction when treating their patients in Australia’s addiction clinics, rehabilitation centres, liver clinics, cancer wards and hospital emergency departments,” the submission states.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a serious, complex health problem and there is “absolutely” no evidence to show drug testing trials will work, says RACP President Dr Catherine Yelland.

The experience of countries like America and New Zealand, she says, have shown drug testing has a poor record in modifying drug use.

“Similar programs have been shown to be ineffective in identifying people with substance dependency and have been criticised for discriminating against some of the most vulnerable people in those communities.”

The RACP also has serious concerns about amendments that will remove drug and alcohol dependency as a legitimate reason for jobseekers to not meet participation requirements.

It won’t help addicts and it won’t motivate them to seek treatment, Dr Yelland says.

“Taking payments away from these people will only cause even greater hardship and a likely spiral into worse health,” she said.

Forgotten Sun could make Freo remember him

Peter who?

Gold Coast forward Peter Wright will attempt to etch his name into the brain of Fremantle coach Ross Lyon in Saturday night’s AFL clash at Domain Stadium.


Fremantle’s biggest challenge in defence will be halting star Suns forward Tom Lynch but 20-year-old Wright, who doubles as a part-time ruckman, also poses a threat.

Wright sits second on Gold Coast’s goalkicking tally this season with 24.17 from 18 matches.

He would have kicked even more goals had he not dropped a series of gettable marks throughout the season.

Lyon is well aware of Wright’s talent, but remembering the name proved a bit tricky this week when the coach was assessing Gold Coast’s forward set-up.

“Lynch is a superstar of the competition,” Lyon said.

“They’ve got some other height with Peter … I forget his last name, it escapes me at the minute.”

Lyon was then told the name was Peter Wright.

“Peter Wright. There you go. He’ll probably be thinking he’ll make me remember it post-game,” Lyon said with a smile.

Both sides enter the match desperate for a win.

The Dockers have lost eight of their past nine to crash out of finals contention while Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade is fighting for his future with his side 15th on the ladder.

Fremantle recalled Jon Griffin and Danyle Pearce to replace Connor Blakely (shoulder) and Sean Darcy (rested).

Gold Coast made six changes, headlined by the return of Gary Ablett and Steven May from injury.

Trent McKenzie, Josh Schoenfeld, Daniel Currie, and Mitch Hallahan are the other inclusions.

Jarrod Witts (shoulder), Brayden Fiorini (hamstring), Jesse Lonergan (axed), Michael Rischitelli (rested), Callum Ah Chee (shoulder), and Ben Ainsworth (knee) are out.

Lyon is unlikely to apply a hard tag to Ablett, but said it would be a good experience for his young group to see such a class player in action.

“I have heard the comment that the more you tag (Ablett) the more he gets,” Lyon said.

“So you have to try and spread off him and attack him a little bit because he’s great. I love him. I don’t think we’ll tag him, but we’ll deal with it when it comes.

“He’s a great player and it would be a great experience for our lads to mark him at some point in time.”

Marschall targets spot in pole vault final

It’s only natural that Kurtis Marschall would draw inspiration from the exploits of Steve Hooker.


What better role model for an Australian pole vaulter than the man who won Olympic gold in 2008 and the world championships title in 2009, both in thrilling fashion?

The 20-year-old Marschall is tracking ahead of Hooker’s exploits at the same age.

He improved his personal best to 5.73m last month and is already a regular fixture on the prestigious Diamond League circuit, where he recently finished ahead of French great Renaud Lavillenie in Monaco.

“That was pretty unexpected because he is the world record holder and world-renowned for being one of the most consistent guys on the circuit,” said Marschall, who is targeting a spot in the final at the world championships, which start on Friday.

“It’s probably not the best year he has jumped but you know anyone’s scalp is there to take and his was that on the day.

“It was huge, a real confidence booster knowing I am not just one of the guys filling the field.”

Marschall acquitted himself well on his Olympic debut last year, clearing 5.60m and only missing out on a spot in the final on countback.

The South Australian is already consistent around the 5.70m mark – a standard Hooker didn’t reach until he was 22 when he made a giant leap forward.

“He obviously is the best vaulter that’s ever lived in Australia,” said Marschall.

“I know he wasn’t an early bloomer like me, he picked up the pole a little bit later and progressed a little bit later.

” … I would like to fulfil what Steve has accomplished in winning the Olympic Games, winning the world championships, winning world indoors – that’s pretty insane.”

Marschall’s progression to date more closely resembles that of another Australian, 1996 world junior champion Paul Burgess, also a member of the exclusive six-metre club but whose career never reached the dizzying heights of Hooker’s.

“(Burgess) had all the records before me,” said Marschall.

“I equalled his under-18 national record and I beat his under-20 national record so I am sort of comparing myself to him because we are on the same sort of path and he jumped six metres in the end as well.”

The men’s pole vault qualifying is on Sunday and the final is on Tuesday.

American Sam Kendricks and Poland’s Piotr Lisek top the entry list, with both having already cleared 6m this year.

Hasler pressure mounts as Dogs lose again

Under-fire Canterbury coach Des Hasler has rubbished suggestions that speculation about his future contributed to his side’s dismal display against Parramatta.


Hasler described his side’s performances as “unbelievably undisciplined” after they were comprehensively beaten 20-4 at ANZ Stadium on Thursday night.

While the gulf between the two teams wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard, due to the wet and difficult conditions, the Bulldogs were never in the match.

The game’s stats made for ugly reading for Bulldogs fans.

The Eels forced nine drop-outs to three and ran for 1486m to the Dogs’ 1185m.

The Bulldogs made 11 errors – four of which came from Josh Morris – had 13 tackles inside the opposition red zone compared to Parramatta’s 39 and had just 42 per cent of possession.

Despite being re-signed on a two-year deal just four months ago, Hasler’s future at Belmore is uncertain unless he can right the ship in the remaining four rounds.

He was forced to front the club board last week, while Jim Dymock, Trent Barrett and Paul Green have been linked to the Dogs’ head coaching job.

However Hasler, with his side sitting in 13th with just seven wins this year, denied the scrutiny had taken a toll on his players.

“I don’t think they’d cop that excuse,” Hasler said.

“We just dropped the ball didn’t we? We executed poorly. We didn’t play wet weather football.

“I don’t know how you want to dress it up or beat it up, the second half, I thought we were a lot better.”

Hasler is set to miss the finals for the first time since 2004 but skipper James Graham said that wasn’t a factor in their performance.

“I don’t believe so,” he said when asked if the spotlight on Hasler had rubbed off on him and his teammates.

“It’s never good when you’re losing games, it knocks you around in terms of your confidence and your ability.

“I don’t know if it’s down to a combination of things or just confidence, I honestly don’t know.”