Rugby Australia (RA) chairman Cameron Clyne has confirmed he will not seek re-election in 2020 after a controversial stint in the role.

Clyne took over the position at the back end of 2015 and has faced plenty of criticism during his four years as chairman.

Many blame Clyne for the decision that saw Western Force axed from Super Rugby, while the call to retain Michael Cheika as head coach following a dismal run of form in 2018 was questioned.

RA is also locked in a legal dispute with former Wallabies back Israel Folau, who had his contract terminated in April for a "high-level breach" after he posted "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram.

Clyne said he hopes his decision to stand down will see the attention return to on-field matters and not factors off the pitch.

"Unfortunately, recently, much of the focus of the media has been directed at myself, which has overshadowed a lot of great work that has been done and continues to be done at the community level through to the national level by our volunteers, administrators, players, coaches, and match officials across the country," he said via a statement.

"It is hoped that with my resignation, the attention can return to where it rightfully should be, which is on the field and that this positive work will be highlighted.

"I have decided that I will not seek re-election when my term concludes at the Rugby Australia AGM in March next year."

Clyne added he will still play a key role in overseeing key issues, including a resolution to the Folau dispute.

"Over the next four months I, along with the rest of the board, remain committed to overseeing the delivery of a new broadcast deal, the appointment of a new Wallabies head coach, and the conclusion of the legal matter involving Israel Folau," he added.

"During this time, the board will work with the Member Union Chairs and the Nominations Committee to find a suitable replacement for my position on the board and I will aim to make a seamless transition from the role, with a replacement in place at the AGM.

"Personally, it's been an incredible privilege to have served as chairman and to have been part of such a professional and devoted team on the Rugby Australia board. I look forward to continuing to support the game after my time in the role concludes."

Sacked Wallabies international Israel Folau has blamed gay marriage and abortion for the bush fires devastating Australia.

Firefighters are reported to be tackling 120 blazes across the country, with 303 homes said to have been lost in New South Wales over the past week.

Folau, a devout Christian, had his contract terminated by Rugby Australia in April for a "high-level breach" after he posted "hell awaits drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" on Instagram.

On Sunday, footage emerged of the 30-year-old delivering a sermon at the Church of Jesus Christ in Kenthurst, claiming the bush fires are a message from God over same-sex marriage and abortion laws.

"God's word says for a man and a woman to be together, one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage to be together," Folau told those in attendance. 

"They've changed that law and have now legalised same-sex marriage.

"Abortion, it's okay now to murder and kill infants, unborn children, and they deem that to be okay.

"You have changed the law and changed the ordinance of these things, look how rampant these bush fires, these droughts...all these things have come in a short period of time. Do you think it's a coincidence or not?

"God is speaking to you guys, Australia. You need to repent." 

Rugby Australia and Folau failed to reach a settlement in June over the full-back's sacking and an unfair dismissal case began in court in August.

The former Waratahs back had been previously warned over his online posts in 2018.

James Pattinson will miss Australia's first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba due to a suspension handed down by Cricket Australia (CA), it was announced on Sunday.

Australia and Victoria bowler Pattinson is ineligible for the series opener in Brisbane after being found guilty of a level two breach of CA's code of conduct for abuse of an opposition player in the Sheffield Shield.

The incident stems from Victoria's clash with Queensland in Melbourne and as it is Pattinson's third breach in the past 18 months, it triggered two suspension points and a subsequent one-match ban.

"I made a mistake in the heat of the moment," said Pattinson, who opted against contesting the charge. "Straight away I realised I was in the wrong, and I apologised immediately, both to the opponent and to the umpires.

"I have done the wrong thing and accept the penalty. I'm gutted to miss a Test match, but the standards are there for a reason and the fault is mine."

No replacement will be called into the Test squad for the Pakistan opener, which gets underway on Thursday.

"We have a duty to uphold the highest standards of behaviour and the action taken in this matter demonstrates that," CA's head of integrity and security Sean Carroll said. "On this occasion, James acknowledges he fell short of that expectation."

Australia captain Tim Paine told ABC Grandstand: "He knows that he's let himself down and let the group down. We hold ourselves to really high standards now with our behaviour ... so we're disappointed in that.

"James has owned up and he knows he's made a mistake. He's apologised for it and will come back bigger and better."

Australia made it four wins from four in the second round of World Cup qualifying as Adam Taggart secured a 1-0 win away to Jordan.

The Suwon Bluewings striker scored the only goal of the game after 13 minutes in Amman to put the Socceroos five points clear at the top of Group B.

Graham Arnold's men were given a scare in the second half, most notably when Tareq Khattab headed wide from close range, but they held firm to take a significant step towards claiming the automatic qualifying spot for round three.

Australia went ahead from their first shot of the match, with Taggart running on to Jackson Irvine's throughball and finishing past the onrushing Amer Shafi.

Irvine spurned a good chance for a second when he side-footed over the bar after Aaron Mooy's corner was flicked on at the right-hand post.

The Socceroos were fairly comfortable until the break but suddenly came under pressure early in the second half, with Mousa Suleiman shooting narrowly wide and Mat Ryan making a good block to deny Yaseen Al Bakhit from a tight angle.

Khattab then spurned a glorious chance to equalise, heading wide of the left-hand post when left completely unmarked by a static Australia defence.

Ryan produced a brilliant save to keep out Hamza Al-Dardoor's header before Al Bakhit shot straight at the keeper in injury time, as Jordan suffered their first Group B defeat and missed out on the chance to leapfrog Australia at the top.

What does it mean? Socceroos bounding clear

Victory puts Australia five points clear of Jordan at the top of Group B, with a perfect 12-point return.

They are firmly on course to secure a place in the next phase of qualifying ahead of their meeting with Kuwait in March.

Clinical Taggart the difference

This was far from the free-scoring Australia that dismantled Chinese Taipei 7-1 last month, but Taggart made no mistake with his one goalscoring opportunity, and he completed all four of his attempted passes before being taken off 20 minutes from time.

Khattab miss costly

Khattab was caught out for the goal by Irvine's fine throughball and missed the best of Jordan's chances to equalise in the second half..

What's next?

Australia's next scheduled outing is a home qualifier against Kuwait on March 25. Jordan are in action on November 19 at home to Chinese Taipei.

Kane Williamson has been passed fit to captain a New Zealand Test squad to face England and Australia that includes uncapped paceman Lockie Ferguson.

A hip injury kept Williamson out of the five Twenty20 internationals on home soil against England, with the tourists earning a 3-2 series victory thanks to a Super Over triumph at Eden Park on Sunday.

The 29-year-old batsman has recovered in time to lead the Black Caps in the inaugural Test at his home ground of Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui, which begins next Thursday.

New Zealand will then face England again at Seddon Park from November 29 before a trio of Tests against trans-Tasman rivals Australia, the first of which takes place at Optus Stadium in Perth.

"Kane's made good progress over the past fortnight and we're delighted to welcome back a player of his class and experience," said selector Gavin Larsen.

"It's obviously going to be a very special Test for him and Trent Boult being such passionate locals - we know there's already a lot of excitement in that part of the Bay of Plenty."

Williamson will be joined by Ferguson, who has earned his maiden Test call-up after becoming a key cog for the Kiwis in white-ball cricket.

The 28-year-old paceman has claimed 153 wickets in 42 first-class matches at an average of 24.30.

"There's no doubt Lockie has been knocking on the door for a while now and we're delighted to finally bring him into the Test fold," Larsen said.

"It's well documented he has raw pace, but he also possesses a quality bowling skill set and has proven durability to stay on the park.

"He showed good form against England in the recent T20 series and backed that up with a solid outing for the Auckland Aces in the Plunket Shield where he claimed 4-23 against the Wellington Firebirds.

"Our pace bowling stocks are strong at the moment and we feel Lockie will add another dimension to the picture which will create some great competition."

 

New Zealand Test squad: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Jeet Raval, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.

Joe Burns has returned to a 14-man Australia squad at the expense of Marcus Harris and Usman Khawaja for the two-Test series against Pakistan.

Queensland batsman Burns is expected to partner David Warner at the top of the order on his home surface when the series begins at the Gabba on November 21.

Burns, who was overlooked for the Ashes after battling post-viral fatigue, is back in the fold despite making 0 and 11 for Australia A in this week's tour match against Pakistan.

Cameron Bancroft compiled a defiant 49 in the first innings of that match and is set to compete with Burns for a recall.

National selector Trevor Hohns indicated Travis Head, one of two vice-captains, would likely regain his spot in the playing side.

The 25-year-old South Australian was dropped for the final Ashes Test, but Will Pucovski's withdrawal from consideration for mental health reasons left selectors with few genuine middle-order options.

"Travis has immense experience as a young leader for his state," Hohns said on Thursday.

"He's certainly been in the mix, [firstly] to play, and we also like the way he goes about his business when he's around the team and the leadership skills he has to offer."

Left-handers Harris and Khawaja will not be involved in Brisbane or in the second Test in Adelaide, which starts on November 29.

Uncapped seamer Michael Neser is one of five pace bowling options in the squad alongside Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson.

Meanwhile, Steve Smith has been fined 25 per cent of his Sheffield Shield match fee after pleading guilty to the charge of showing dissent at an umpire's decision.

The world's top-ranked Test batsman showed visible frustration after being judged caught behind for 103 in the first innings of New South Wales' match against Western Australia.

 

Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (captain), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

Will Pucovski has pulled out of contention to be selected for Australia's Test squad against Pakistan to focus on his mental health.

The 21-year-old Australian batsman had been in line to push for the 14-man side, which will be named on Thursday ahead of the two-Test series starting November 21.

Pucovski has made a strong start in the Sheffield Shield, scoring 123 runs for Victoria against South Australia, while also impressing on tour with Australia A in England earlier in 2019.

He was also selected for an Australia A side that took on Pakistan in a three-day tour match in Perth this week. 

Having previously taken two breaks to deal with his mental wellbeing, Pucovski informed Australia's management that he was struggling during Tuesday's evening session, as his side collapsed in their first innings.

"We applaud Will for having the courage to discuss his situation with team management in Perth," Cricket Australia's manager of national teams Ben Oliver said in a statement.

"Will's decision not to nominate for Test selection was the right one in the circumstances and one that everyone in the Australian cricket family supports.

"Mental health is a complex issue that unfortunately impacts many young men and women in our society. By Will bravely taking this position, he will undoubtedly inspire others facing similar challenges to speak up and take positive steps towards improving their mental wellbeing.

"The most important thing now is for Will to be given the time, space and expert support that he needs to return to full health as soon as possible. I speak on behalf of everyone in Australian cricket when I say we wish Will the very best in his recovery."

Pucovski's decision comes on the back of Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell confirming he is taking time off to address "difficulties" relating to his mental wellbeing.

Virat Kohli believes the "remarkable" Glenn Maxwell has set a brilliant example for all cricketers by deciding to temporarily step away from the sport and focus on his mental health.

Cricket Australia announced ahead of the third Twenty20 against Sri Lanka two weeks ago that, following a talk with head coach Justin Langer, Maxwell would take a short break for personal reasons.

India captain Kohli commended the all-rounder and recalled difficulties he wrestled with alone while he struggled for runs during India's tour of England five years ago.

"I'm absolutely for it," Kohli said of Maxwell's decision ahead of the first Test against Bangladesh in Indore, which begins on Thursday.

"To be very honest, everyone is focused on what they need to do. It is difficult for anyone to figure out what is going around in another person's mind.

"I have gone through a phase in my career where I felt like it was the end of the world. In England in 2014, I did not know what to do and what to say to anyone and how to speak and how to communicate.

"I could not have said I am not feeling great mentally and I need to get away from the game because you never know how it is taken.

"I think these things should be of great importance because if you think that a player is important enough for the team or Indian cricket to go forward. I think they should be looked after. When you get to the international stage, every player needs that communication, that ability to just speak out.

"I think what Glenn has done is remarkable and he has set a right example for the cricketers all around the world that if you are not in the best frame of mind, you try, try and try but as human beings, you reach a tipping point at some stage when you need time away from the game. Not to say you give up, but just to gain more clarity."

Chelsea have signed Australia forward Sam Kerr on a two-and-a-half-year deal, the Women's Super League club have confirmed.

Kerr will be available for Emma Hayes' league leaders from January after securing a third consecutive Golden Boot in the NWSL with Chicago Red Stars.

The 26-year-old netted 19 goals in 23 games to be named the competition's MVP, although the Red Stars missed out on glory after suffering a defeat to North Carolina Courage.

Kerr swept the board in terms of individual awards despite taking a mid-season break to feature at the World Cup in France, where she scored five goals for Australia.

She has 38 goals overall for the Matildas over the course of an international career that began at the age of 15, and she is on the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or Feminin after also receiving a nomination at the FIFA Best Awards.

Kerr told Chelsea's official website: "The WSL is the best league in Europe. I want team success and I don't want it to come easy.

"I feel Chelsea have been building something special over the years and I want to be a part of that – I want to lift some trophies."

Chelsea manager Hayes added: ‘Sam has proved time and time again in the NWSL that she is a prolific goalscorer. She's won the Golden Boot many times and she’s a player that can make things happen, but she’s also a fantastic team player.

"The fact she chose Chelsea when she could have gone to any club in the world is a testament to the players and the staff here because she saw this is the best place for her to grow and take the next step in her career. That's a wonderful compliment to us all."

Chelsea have a one-point advantage over Arsenal and Manchester City at the WSL summit having won four times and drawn once amid an unbeaten start to the campaign.

Misbah-ul-Haq has backed spinner Yasir Shah to have a big impact for his Pakistan side as they prepare to take on Australia in an upcoming two-match Test series.

The Pakistan side have undergone a revamp following a frustrating 2019, with Azhar Ali replacing Sarfraz Ahmed as Test captain, while Misbah has been appointed as both coach and chief selector.

Australia provide Pakistan's first opponents in the longest format since this overhaul, with matches set for Brisbane and Adelaide later this month.

Yasir was one of the players involved when Pakistan last toured against Australia in 2016-17, as the visitors succumbed to a 3-0 series whitewash.

And Misbah claims the experience from three years ago means Yasir, who took 1-24 from Australia A's brief first innings in this week's warm-up match, is well placed to spearhead Pakistan's bowling attack this time around.

"Our young fast bowlers and spinner Yasir Shah are our biggest positives," the coach told a news conference. "[Yasir] is aware of Australian conditions and he also had better preparation playing domestic cricket at home.

"He bowled lengthy spells there and he knows exactly what was missing during his previous tour here. So I am hoping that our preparations are better than before.

"It's important for us to take 20 wickets because you can't win without it. I feel our batting line-up is capable enough to put up 400 to 450 runs on the board, so it also helps our bowlers along the way."

Pakistan lost 2-0 in the sides' Twenty20 International series that ended last week, but Misbah believes the introduction of several fresh faces has given the tourists cause for optimism.

"Overall, when you try out different options and search for solutions, you have go through all of that," Misbah said.

"Obviously, when you are settled, you get the results. But if you want to improve a few things, you should also think about the future for back-ups.

"If you need to try new players, you need to look past that [the loss]. Obviously, we were looking to win those games. But we were looking far ahead by giving a few players the experience they need.

"There are a lot of positives for us, and this is definitely going to help Pakistan in the future."

Cameron Bancroft dug in after his fellow Test hopefuls failed miserably with the bat on day two of the tour match between Pakistan and Australia A.

Joe Burns was bowled for a golden duck by the excellent Imran Khan (5-32) before Marcus Harris (16), Travis Head (13), Usman Khawaja (6), and Will Pucovski (5) also fell cheaply.

Bancroft made a patient 49 after coming in at number six, putting on 65 with Riley Meredith (19 not out) for the last wicket to get Australia's second string up to 122 from a shambolic 57-9.

Veteran seamer Khan was the star of the show as Pakistan dominated the penultimate day of the pink ball contest at Perth Stadium, closing on 7-0 with a lead of 313.

The tourists were a bowler down after 16-year-old Naseem Shah was withdrawn following the death of his mother.

Australia and Pakistan start the two-match Test series at the Gabba on November 21.

Australia fast bowler James Pattinson plans to make back-to-back Test matches the next milestone in his return to international cricket.

The injury-ravaged Victorian ended a three-year absence from the top level with two appearances in the recent Ashes series in England.

Pattinson was forced to undergo spinal surgery to correct a career-threatening back problem in 2017 and selectors have been careful with his reintegration.

He took two wickets in the Ashes opener at Edgbaston and then claimed another three in the third Test in Leeds, with a rest in between.

"The next process for me now, if I do get the chance in the Test arena, is to play more back-to-back cricket," Pattinson told reporters.

"I've been injury-free for the best part of a year now. The body is feeling good. Hopefully that's the next progression, if I do get a chance in the Test team."

He continued: "I think the more cricket you play, the more comfortable you feel in terms of your body and how the ball is coming out.

"You see the batters around and they're playing all the time and they get into a rhythm. As a bowler, it's hard sometimes when you're stopping and going and stopping and going.

"Hopefully the next step of the process is playing some consistent cricket."

Australia are set to play five Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand over the next two months, giving Pattinson the chance to push for consecutive matches.

But the 29-year-old faces strong competition simply to win selection, with Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser also challenging Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc for places.

"We've got a lot of fast bowlers up at the moment, which is great for Australian cricket," Pattinson said.

"All anyone can do is go out there and do their best for the team they're playing in."

Sean Abbott described his Australia return as "a privilege" after he earned the man-of-the-match award in his first international appearance for five years.

The fast bowler, 27, had not played for his country since a Twenty20 against South Africa in Sydney on November 9, 2014, but was back to face Pakistan in Perth on Friday.

Abbott was only hit for two boundaries as his figures of 2-14 from four overs helped Australia to restrict Pakistan to 106-8 in the third T20I. 

Captain Aaron Finch (52 not out) and David Warner (48 not out) then led Australia to a 10-wicket triumph, sealing a 2-0 win in the three-match series.

"It's been a privilege to be part of this side," Abbott said of his return. "It's awesome to be back out here.

"A lot of hard work has gone into it, but there's a lot of talent in this country.

"The guys have been playing really well and they've welcomed me back in the group. Very pleased."

Australia have a rating of 269 in the T20I rankings and are just one behind leaders Pakistan.

They have won series against India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan in 2019 without losing a match, putting them in a strong position ahead of hosting next year's T20 World Cup.

Finch said: "Really proud of my boys. The way we've applied ourselves over the last couple of weeks has been really impressive. We're improving as a team and that's the most important thing. 

"The way Ashton Agar bowled in these two series was amazing. He was outstanding, alongside Adam Zampa and they were bowling against quality players of spin. The quicks in the powerplay were outstanding, too. Mitchell Starc in general and Abbott in this game.

"It's pleasing one of our top three batted really deep throughout the two series and we can only kick on from here."

Pakistan, by contrast, are on a miserable run. They have lost 2-1 to South Africa, 1-0 to England, 3-0 to Sri Lanka and now struggled against the Aussies in their last four series in the shortest format.

"I am very disappointed, but we lost to a very good team," said captain Babar Azam.

"We've learnt a lot and we want to make sure we don't make the same mistakes again. As captain, I learnt a lot personally too, but there's a long way to go. 

"[Muhammad] Musa and [Mohammad] Hasnain were bowling well, but Finch and Warner were just in a different class. We wanted to blood them and I'm sure the experience will be good for them in future."

Australia and Pakistan will now prepare for two Test matches, the first coming in Brisbane on November 21.

Aaron Finch hit an unbeaten fifty as Australia stormed to a 10-wicket victory over Pakistan in the third Twenty20 international, sealing a 2-0 triumph in the three-match series.

After weather impacted the first match, Steve Smith inspired Australia to victory in Canberra and Friday's match in Perth also went the way of the hosts in comprehensive fashion.

Captain Finch opted to bowl after winning the toss on a lively pitch and was rewarded when Pakistan struggled to 106-8, Kane Richardson recording the best figures as he took 3-18.

Openers Finch (52 not out) and David Warner (48no) reached the target themselves in only 11.5 overs.

Australia's win cuts Pakistan's lead at the top of the world rankings to just one point.

Mitchell Starc got Australia off to a flying start, taking the key wicket of Pakistan captain Babar Azam (6), which was upheld after the batsman reviewed, before bowling wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan for a golden duck.

Pakistan were in a hole at 22-3 when man of the match Sean Abbott (2-14) – playing his first international in five years – got rid of Imam-ul-Haq (14).

Iftikhar Ahmed was the only man to offer meaningful resistance as he hit 45 from 37 balls, but wickets tumbled around him, including that of debutant Khushdil Shah (8), who fell to Richardson.

When Richardson removed Iftikhar as Starc caught him at fine leg, the tourists' total was only 92 with 23 deliveries left, the tail left to bat out the innings.

Australia's reply got off to an eventful start, with David Warner's six from the third ball only just beating third man before Imam missed a glorious run-out opportunity.

The openers were in control from there, though, Finch's total coming from just 36 balls with three maximums, and Warner ending just short of a half century himself after hitting six boundaries in a 35-ball knock.

Pakistan's other debutant, Muhammad Musa, came in for punishment with figures of 0-39 from his 3.5 overs.

The teams will now turn their attention to two Test matches, the first of which starts in Brisbane on November 21.

Kenneth Dougall could make his Socceroos debut later this month as Tom Rogic and Martin Boyle were also named in a 24-man Australia squad for a World Cup qualifier against Jordan.

Barnsley midfielder Dougall, 26, is the only uncapped player in the squad for the clash in Amman on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Celtic playmaker Rogic and Hibernian attacker Boyle – who is back from a knee injury – are also part of the squad.

Australia head coach Graham Arnold has opted for a slightly extended squad due to star attacker Mathew Leckie awaiting the birth of his second child.

"There are a few minor injury issues with some players who were part of our successful October window – including Mark Milligan, Jamie Maclaren, and Mustafa Amini – so we felt it was important to select players that physically will hit the ground running in Amman," Arnold said in a statement on Friday.

"Overall, I am delighted with the strength and balance of the squad that we have selected to play Jordan next week.

"We will have three training sessions together before the match, and with competition for places for every starting position I expect I will have to make some tough decisions."

The Socceroos have won their opening three matches to hold a two-point lead over Jordan atop Group B.

Australia: Adam Federici (Stoke City), Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Mathew Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion); Aziz Behich (Istanbul Basaksehir), Milos Degenek (Red Star Belgrade), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Josh Risdon (Western United), Trent Sainsbury (Maccabi Haifa), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Fleetwood Town), Bailey Wright (Bristol City); Kenneth Dougall (Barnsley), Ajdin Hrustic (Groningen), Jackson Irvine (Hull City), James Jeggo (Austria Vienna), Aaron Mooy (Brighton and Hove Albion), Tom Rogic (Celtic); Brandon Borrello (Freiburg), Martin Boyle (Hibernian), Apostolos Giannou (AEK Larnaca), Craig Goodwin (Al-Wehda), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland), Adam Taggart (Suwon Bluewings).

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.