Joe Root hailed Jofra Archer's "X-factor" after the all-rounder was included in England's squad for the Cricket World Cup.

Archer, who only became eligible for selection in March, was named in the final 15-man squad on Tuesday despite having only played three ODIs for England.

His selection over an established member of the side in David Willey was seen by some as controversial.

However, Root believes Archer has proven his worth with numerous instrumental performances in the Indian Premier League.

"He's obviously got that X-factor," Root told Sky Sports News. "You watch him play in the IPL, you watch the effect he's had on some of those games, high-pressure games and he's performed in that environment and thrived in it.

"He's only played a couple of games for us in international cricket and he's right at the start of his career but he has the ability to change games, he brings something different to our attack, which I think is a real bonus. It's a great, strong addition to the squad."

Asked if Archer could work his way into the Test squad for the Ashes series with Australia later this year, Root added: "He obviously would offer something different to the group of players we've got currently.

"I think it's very important throughout this next period, the selectors in particular watching county cricket, watching how guys go throughout the World Cup, guys within this World Cup squad - not just Jofra but other players as well - have got an opportunity to impress and make sure that they're up for contention when those Ashes squads are selected."

Root is Willey's team-mate at Yorkshire as well as with England and feels the fact a player of his quality has missed out is proof of the depth they have at their disposal.

"It was always going to be bitterly disappointing for whoever missed out," Root said. 

"Everyone's performed extremely well, done everything they can to give a good account of themselves going into the World Cup. For Dave, he's worked extremely hard, he'll be absolutely gutted.

"He's a brilliant team-mate, a great professional. He'll go back to Yorkshire and try to prove to everyone why he's going to play for England for a long time to come in the future.

"It's a very unique situation where you've got so many guys that have performed brilliantly, you look at the squad going into the tournament and there's no question-marks, everyone deserves their place, has performed consistently well going into it, it's a brilliant place to be.

"It is bitterly disappointing and it was always going to be tough on someone but it shows the strength in depth in the group, where we're at as a one-day team at the minute and it shows how well we've prepared.

"We've given ourselves the best chance leading into it, we're still going to have to play extremely well, nothing's going to be given to us, we're going to have to earn every win throughout the whole tournament."

George Smith said he "lived the dream" in 20 years as a professional after the Australia legend announced his retirement.

The 38-year-old, who won 111 caps for the Wallabies, called time on his career after a short spell with Premiership side Bristol Bears.

Smith also featured for the likes of Toulon, Lyon, Stade Francais and Wasps after beginning his career with Super Rugby club the Brumbies.

The flanker, fifth on the list of Australia's most-capped players, stressed he will end his playing days with no regrets.

"Finally the day has come where I officially announce my retirement from professional rugby," Smith said.

"It's been an absolute privilege to play professionally for the past 20 years. Rugby has provided and given me so much.

"The dreams that I had of playing rugby professionally as a young bloke, I'm fortunate to say that I've lived them and experienced so much more during my time."

Smith, the first John Eales Medallist in 2002, added: "The day my father registered me with the Warringah Roos at four years of age in Manly, I found myself returning to the game every year thereafter,

"I was extremely lucky in my career to have landed myself in Canberra as a young 19-year-old kid, having the luxury of being tutored by the finest peers and coaches in the game at the Brumbies."

Israel Folau has declined the option to appeal against his Rugby Australia (RA) ban, but is still considering his options after his contract was terminated last week.

The 30-year-old was sacked by RA on Friday following a hearing over his anti-homosexual social media post last month, in which Folau, a devout Christian, uploaded an image on Instagram that said "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators".

Folau, who had been warned by RA for similar comments last year, was found guilty of a "high-level breach" of the governing body's code of conduct and RA confirmed on Monday that the former Wallabies and Waratahs star had not appealed.

"The 72-hour window for Israel Folau to appeal his high-level code of conduct breach and sanction has expired," RA said in a statement.

"As Folau has not notified the panel of his intention to appeal, the code of conduct process has now formally concluded.

"With the code of conduct matter complete, Folau's employment contract will be terminated."

However, Folau issued a statement of his own that was widely circulated in the Australian media on Monday in which it was noted that he was "considering all potential avenues" with regards to further action against RA's decision.

"The last few weeks and, in particular, the last 72 hours have given me considerable opportunity to reflect and think about my future," he said.

"I will not be exercising my right to appeal Rugby Australia's decision to terminate my employment contract."

He added: "My decision not to commence Rugby Australia's appeal process is in no way an acceptance of the judicial panel's findings.

"I simply do not have confidence in Rugby Australia's ability to treat me fairly or lawfully throughout this process."

Folau, who has made 73 appearances for Australia, had previously said he would be willing to walk away from the sport but added in his statement: "I believe I still have a lot of rugby left in me."

Wallabies and Waratahs star Israel Folau officially had his contracted terminated by Rugby Australia, it was confirmed on Friday.

Rugby Australia sacked Folau over anti-homosexual social media posts following a hearing, in which the Australia international was found guilty of a "high-level breach" of the RA's code of conduct.

A three-person panel considered a sanction after Folau contested the breach notice issued to him in the aftermath of a post in April that said "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolators", having been warned by RA for similar comments last year.

And the country's governing body decided to terminate Folau's four-year, multi-million-dollar contract, though the 30-year-old and devout Christian has 72 hours to appeal.

Folau – who made 62 appearances for Australia and won the 2014 Super Rugby title with the Waratahs – is reportedly set to launch legal action.

"While Rugby Australia accepts the panel's decision directing termination of Israel Folau's playing contract for his high-level breach of the Code of Conduct, we want to stress that this outcome is a painful situation for the game," RA chief executive Raelene Castle said.

"Rugby Australia did not choose to be in this situation, but Rugby Australia's position remains that Israel, through his actions, left us with no choice but to pursue this course of action.  

"This has been an extremely challenging period for Rugby and this issue has created an unwanted distraction in an important year for the sport and for the Wallabies team.

"But our clear message to all Rugby fans today is that we need to stand by our values and the qualities of inclusion, passion, integrity, discipline, respect and teamwork.

"I've communicated directly with the players to make it clear that Rugby Australia fully supports their right to their own beliefs and nothing that has happened changes that. But when we are talking about inclusiveness in our game, we're talking about respecting differences as well.

"When we say rugby is a game for all, we mean it. People need to feel safe and welcomed in our game regardless of their gender, race, background, religion, or sexuality. We thank the tribunal panel for their decision and we respect the time, consideration and expertise the panel members brought to this process.

"Representing Australia and all Australians on the rugby field is a privilege. Selection is dependent upon a player's ability to contribute to the Wallabies, and the game of rugby itself, in a positive and consistent manner both on and off the field. When players sign a contract with the Wallabies, they sign up to the values of the team and the sport.

"Israel is a great rugby player and we are disappointed and saddened by the fact that he will not see out his four-year commitment to the Wallabies and Waratahs."

Stuart Hogg believes Warren Gatland has earned a third stint as head coach of the British and Irish Lions.

Outgoing Wales head coach Gatland is reported to have agreed a deal to take charge of the Lions for the 2021 tour of South Africa.

Gatland masterminded a 2-1 victory in Australia in 2013 and a 1-1 draw with New Zealand two years ago.

Scotland full-back Hogg, who suffered a facial injury on the tour of New Zealand after also missing out on a first Lions Test in Australia, would welcome the reappointment of the wily 55-year-old.

"You only have to see the job that he and the rest of the coaching staff have done on the last two tours, he's been absolutely tremendous." Land Rover ambassador Hogg told Omnisport.

"The record he's got as a Lions head coach is superb. Not many teams have gone to New Zealand and done a job on them.

"He's been brilliant for the Lions, he knows what is right for everybody and I'm sure he'll get the lads going in the right direction."

Hogg will leave Glasgow Warriors to join Exeter Chiefs at the end of the Pro14 season and the 26-year-old is determined to feature in a first Lions Test in two years' time.

"From a personal point of view, obviously I was disappointed to miss out in the last tour with injury, but I'll certainly be trying to get on the next one," Hogg added.

"For me it will case of making sure I'm doing a job for Exeter first and foremost and then for Scotland if given the opportunities, but there is a hell of a lot of rugby to come before then."

 

- Stuart Hogg is a Land Rover ambassador. Land Rover understands and shares the values of rugby. Follow @LandRoverRugby

Peter Fulton will replace Craig McMillan as New Zealand's batting coach after the Cricket World Cup.

Fulton, who played 84 internationals for New Zealand, will take over in July after McMillan announced in February he would be stepping down.

Black Caps head coach Gary Stead was delighted with the appointment of Fulton, a former top-order batsman.

"We're delighted to have Pete come on board after the World Cup and are confident he will be a good fit for our environment," he said in a statement.

"We had a thorough process and utilised our senior players to help assess all the candidates.

"Pete obviously has a good understanding of batting, but he also demonstrated a clear vision for helping our elite batsmen.

"He's shown he has the coaching skills through his work with the New Zealand Under-19s and our winter training squads, while we know from his playing days that he will certainly add to our team culture."

The Cheetahs have announced Franco Smith will replace Conor O'Shea as Italy head coach at the start of next year.

O'Shea has been in charge of the Azzurri for three years and was contracted until after the 2020 Six Nations.

Pro14 club the Cheetahs on Tuesday announced that head coach and director of rugby Smith will succeed O'Shea on January 1 after being offered his first international role.

A Cheetahs statement said: "Franco was offered the opportunity to coach the Italian national side from 1 January 2020.  

"The board of directors see this as a great opportunity for Franco and is proud of the fact that so many top coaches have been developed by the Free State Cheetahs.

"Free State Rugby is seen as a breeding ground of opportunity with coaches like Rassie Erasmus, Neil Powell, Jacques Nienaber, Pote Human, Brendan Venter, Rory Duncan, Daan Human, who all started off in the Free State – and in the past, Nelie Smith, Gysie Pienaar and others.

"The board of directors is proud of and wishes Franco the best of luck with the opportunity to coach on an international level until the next World Cup in 2023.    

"In order to ensure a smooth transition, Franco will remain in the position as head coach for Currie Cup, where after the new coach will take over the reins for Pro14 later in September.  

"The new coach will be part of the coaching structures during Currie Cup to experience the culture. After Currie Cup, Franco will stay in the fold as director of rugby until the end of November 2019."

Italy have not won a Six Nations match under O'Shea and their last victory in the tournament came when they upset Scotland 22-19 at Murrayfield in 2015.

England bowler James Anderson will undergo tests on a knee injury sustained playing for Lancashire but coach Glen Chapple is confident there is "no proper damage".

Anderson was hit on the left knee by the ball after bowling a delivery to Hampshire's James Fuller during Sunday's Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final at Southampton.

England's record wicket-taker grimaced in pain but initially tried to complete his over only to pull out at the end of his run-up then leave the field of play.

Anderson, however, is expected to be fit to lead Joe Root's attack in the first Test of the 2019 Ashes against Australia on August 1 at Edgbaston. He is not involved in England's squad for the upcoming World Cup.

"Obviously it's a nasty blow on the inside of the knee, it's a painful area," Lancashire coach Chapple told BBC Sport. "I don't think we're certain but we're fairly confident it will just be a nasty bruise and it will settle down in a few days.

"First things first, he'll see the physio tomorrow morning [Monday] and he'll be able to tell. But as you saw, he walked off no problem and was nearly able to bowl.

"It is a bad spot and as soon as there's any swelling in there it's going to restrict movement and limit strength. I would imagine it will be very painful for a couple of days.

"A lot of us have had a blow in a similar area and it's just on the edge of the joint. I'm not an expert and can't be sure until things pan out, but I'm hopeful there's no proper damage."

Hampshire completed a four-wicket win to set up a Lord's clash with Somerset in the final.

Alex Goode is still dreaming of an England recall after being named European Player of the Year and says Saracens must "come out throwing punches" in pursuit of another double.

Goode rose to the occasion once again on the big stage as Sarries fought back to beat Leinster in a ferocious European Champions Cup final at St James' Park on Saturday.

The full-back has not played for his country since November 2016 and Saracens director of rugby Mark McCall is certainly not alone in being staggered that the 31-year-old has been overlooked by Eddie Jones.

Goode has not given up hope of adding to his 21 caps with the Rugby World Cup on the horizon after playing his part in a 20-10 victory in Newcastle that saw the London club crowned champions of Europe for a third time in four years.

He told Omnisport: "It would be a dream to play for England again, I love playing for my country, it was always a dream and the pinnacle of my career.

"Right now all I can do is focus on my own form. I'm over the moon about winning with this club, it's a club I've always been at and the only club I know, it's a special place for me and my family and I love it."

McCall's men won every Champions Cup match this season to dethrone Leinster and Goode is hungry for a repeat of a European and Premiership double they achieved three years ago.

He added: "I think we know we can build from this, we've got a game against Worcester and then the semi-final. We've got to make sure we prepare well and turn up, we know whoever we play will be coming at us from all directions.

"We can't rest on our laurels, it's part of being a Premiership player that [when you] win something, you've got to go back to the grind and make sure you prepare unbelievably well and you come out throwing punches."

Stuart Broad believes new England star Jofra Archer has what it takes to be a success in international cricket's longest format.

Archer became eligible to play for England this year and earned his first call-up for the limited-overs fixtures before the Cricket World Cup, although he was not included in the preliminary group for the home tournament.

The all-rounder has impressed in his early showings in an England shirt and, with the Ashes to come later this year, Test regular Broad sees no reason why Archer should not be involved.

Archer took a wicket on his one-day international debut against Ireland and a further pair in a Twenty20 international against Pakistan.

"I can't see a way that Jofra doesn't play some sort of role in that Ashes series," he said. "He has the rhythm, the style, the pace.

"He generates pace with ease, which is always exciting as a fast bowler. He has everything you would want in a fast bowler to succeed at the top level.

"He's got the character to play at the top level. I've seen him run all day when things don't quite go his way, which is a good sign.

"I hope he's in front of The Oval pavilion lifting the Ashes urn come September because he's a very exciting cricketer."

And Broad is not worried that the arrival of Archer on the Test scene would threaten his place, insisting his focus is on England winning.

"I'm not threatened at all," he said. "I think he's a brilliant cricketer. At the end of the day, as an England supporter, you want England to win every trophy available this summer.

"He's going to be in the World Cup squad, I'd imagine, not that it's my decision. You can't leave a player like that out, I don't think. And I'm sure he'll go well in that."

Ben Smith suffered a hamstring blow in the Highlanders' 31-31 Super Rugby draw with the Chiefs that could keep him out for two months.

The New Zealand star was cleared of serious injury following a heavy collision late in Saturday's game that saw him helped off, sustaining a hamstring problem and a cut to the chin.

Smith, who will leave the Highlanders for Pau later this year, could still be out for the remainder of the Super Rugby season.

Highlanders assistant coach Glenn Delaney suggested that the All Black would miss a key stretch in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup, which gets under way in Japan in September.

"He's had a high hamstring strain so he's going to be out for six to eight weeks," Delaney told reporters. "It's just a classic rugby incident where he got caught in a tackle and overextended.

"All the right things are being done and he'll be back as quick as he can be with the right rehab."

Smith's team-mate Aaron Smith added: "Six to eight weeks, from how the injury looked, you could say, was very lucky.

"Obviously, in New Zealand rugby, we've got a few big injuries this year, but that's the game we play. [Ben Smith] is already in the mindset that he'll be back quicker than six to eight."

A three-person panel is considering a sanction following the end of Israel Folau's hearing into a "high-level breach" of Rugby Australia's (RA) code of conduct.

Wallabies and Waratahs back Folau was contesting the breach notice issued to him in the aftermath of his latest controversial social media activity.

Folau sent out an anti-homosexual post, saying "hell awaits you", having last year been warned by RA for similar comments.

A hearing, to determine whether RA's intent to terminate Folau's contract will be upheld, concluded on Tuesday and the panel judged the player had committed a "high-level breach" but will now take time to receive written submissions before deciding on a sanction.

A statement from RA read: "The code of conduct hearing in the matter of Israel Folau has concluded in Sydney today.

"A panel of John West QC (chair), Kate Eastman SC, and John Boultee AM presided over the three-day hearing which commenced on May 4.

"The panel has today provided a judgement that Israel Folau committed a high-level breach of the professional players' code of conduct with his social media posts on April 10, 2019.

"The panel will now take further written submissions from the parties to consider the matter of sanction.

"A further update will be provided after the panel delivers its decision on sanction."

England flanker James Haskell will retire at the end of the season, his club Northampton Saints have announced.

Haskell joined the Saints from Wasps last year but has endured an injury-plagued campaign, playing only four times and prompting a decision to call time on his career.

The 34-year-old has 77 England caps and played at the last two Rugby World Cups, while he also featured in the Top 14 and Super Rugby at club level.

He last represented England in March 2018, failing to build his form and fitness for a recall this term.

"I have loved every minute of my career in rugby and feel very privileged to have played with and against some exceptional players," Haskell said in a Northampton statement.

"Retiring is obviously a really difficult decision for me to make; professional rugby has been the centre of my life for such a long time now and, while it's weird to imagine living without it, I look to the future with huge excitement.

"I look back at my career and have been very lucky to have done most things there are to do in rugby. Sadly, I will never know what it's like to win a World Cup or represent the Barbarians."

England coach Eddie Jones described Haskell as "one of the game's great characters".

"When I look back at my time coaching James, it will always bring a smile to my face," he said. "It was a privilege to coach him, but also great fun. He's what I'd describe as a 'glue' player - someone who always tries to bring a squad together.

"His tour to Australia in 2016 sticks in my mind. He was absolutely outstanding on that tour, amazingly physical, uncompromising and just totally dominant.

"Despite injuries preventing him from achieving his goals this season, he should be remembered for a great career and as someone who never gave less than 100 per cent for club and country.

"Not only a superb player, but also one of the game's great characters; rugby will be poorer without the old fella."

Saints director of rugby Chris Boyd said: "James has had a tough time with injuries this season and not run out for Saints as often as he'd like but, despite that, he's had a huge impact here and is an invaluable member of the squad.

"He brings to the table a vast amount of experience and is a consummate professional not to mention a superb example for our younger players.

"He has been a wonderful servant to the English game and I've no doubt he'll be just as successful in his retirement."

Aaron Mauger has allayed concerns over Ben Smith after the New Zealand full-back was helped off late in the Highlanders' thrilling 31-31 Super Rugby draw with the Chiefs.

Smith was treated as he lay on the turf following a heavy collision with Chiefs flanker Luke Jacobson at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.

The All Black looked groggy as he walked off the field with assistance from medics.

Highlanders head coach Mauger says 32-year-old Smith - who will join Pau after the Rugby World Cup in Japan - was not seriously injured.

"He's got a hamstring strain, and he's also got a good laceration on the chin and he's getting stitched up at the moment," Mauger said.

"He's got a strain and we'll know a bit more in the next couple of days. Structurally he's fine, it's just soft tissue."

New Zealand have already lost versatile back Damian McKenzie for the World Cup due to a knee injury, so Steve Hansen will be relieved to hear that Smith is not facing a lengthy absence.

New Zealand fly-half Beauden Barrett refused to be drawn on his future when quizzed on Friday, but hopes to make an announcement in the near future.

The Hurricanes captain has been linked with a move overseas after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Barrett gave nothing away when asked about a potential move later this year, saying his only interest was preparing for a Super Rugby clash with the Rebels on Saturday.

"I'll talk about that [his future] in due course, I'll just focus on the game tomorrow at the moment," said the two-time World Rugby Player of the Year.

Sam Whitelock recently signed a four-year contract extension with New Zealand Rugby, which includes a spell playing for Japanese club Panasonic.

Barrett was reluctant to address suggestions he may follow suit.

The 27-year-old added: "Look, my team is working on it and I'm being patient, I'll be ready to hopefully announce something soon if all things fall into place.

"I don't know the ins and outs of his [Whitelock] contract, I don't want to comment."

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