Beauden Barrett fit to return for All Blacks against Argentina

By Sports Desk August 30, 2022

Beauden Barrett is fit to return for New Zealand when they go in search of revenge against Argentina on Saturday.

Barrett missed the Pumas' first-ever away victory over the All Blacks last weekend due to a neck injury, but he is back in contention for the Rugby Championship clash at FMG Stadium Waikato.

The two-time World Rugby Player of the Year said: "I'm feeling really good, sun's on the back, beautiful Hamilton day, and good to get a full training under my belt, too."

He quipped: "I've realised that I've got to get a neck like a front rower to be able to handle these knocks, so I've been working hard on it in the gym with Pete [All Blacks physio Pete Gallagher].

"A few more shoulder-on tackles, and I'd say I'm just about ready to go."

The All Blacks have lost four out of six Tests this year and are third in the Rugby Championship table after their historic loss to Michael Cheika's men in round three.

Barrett says the All Blacks will stick with their principles but are prepared to adapt.

"We don’t want to be like other teams," he added. "We've still got to be the expressive All Blacks that we know we can be.

"When the pressure comes on, we want to run the ball, keep it in hand, it's just what feels so natural to us.

"We've identified that in games that we’ve lost, we may need to kick the ball a little bit more, it seems unnatural, but it's just being aware of that.

"And looking to attack in different ways – everyone on our feet, chasing kicks, getting those 50-50 bounces or flooding rucks and looking for turnovers that way. We are figuring out the way that we want to play."

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    France, Brazil and Portugal are the only sides to have already secured World Cup knockout football, with numerous teams facing a nervy final matchday as they bid to reach the round of 16 in Qatar.

    Pre-tournament favourites Brazil breezed through Group G with wins over Serbia and Switzerland, while France became the first reigning world champions to escape the group stage since the Selecao in 2006.

    Portugal made sure of their round-of-16 spot after Monday's Group H victory over Uruguay, yet the likes of England, Spain, Germany and Argentina all need results on matchday three to progress.

    The Netherlands are another big name that have yet to confirm their place in the latter stages of FIFA's top tournament, while Belgium face a tense Group F clash with Croatia to avoid an early exit.

    Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the permutations riding on the final selection of group-stage action in the Middle East.

    Group A

    The Netherlands are largely in control of Group A, needing to just avoid defeat against the already eliminated hosts, Qatar.

    Louis van Gaal's side will also reach the round of 16 if Ecuador beat Senegal, who have to win otherwise Aliou Cisse's side will rely on a somewhat unlikely win for Qatar over the Netherlands to remain in contention.

    Ecuador, who have impressed in their first two games, must win or draw against Senegal to progress. However, Gustavo Alfaro's men could go through in defeat if Qatar beat the Netherlands.

    Group B

    A win or a draw is enough for England against fierce rivals Wales. Yet, the Three Lions would still progress as long as they avoid a four-goal defeat against Wales, whose goal difference is six fewer.

    Iran are guaranteed to qualify with victory over the United States, who know anything other than a win against Carlos Queiroz's side will see them eliminated from the competition.

    Quieroz's men could still escape Group B with a draw, though goal difference would come into play if Wales pick up their first win at the tournament against Gareth Southgate's England.

    Group C

    All four teams can still make it out of an enticing Group C, with Argentina – who were among the pre-tournament favourites – needing to beat Poland to guarantee a round-of-16 place.

    La Albiceleste could progress with a draw, however, and would be through in that instance if Mexico and Saudi Arabia also share the spoils.

    Yet, if Lionel Scaloni's men are held and Herve Renard's men beat El Tri, Argentina will be eliminated. If Mexico win and Argentina draw, it goes to goal difference.

    Poland would go through by avoiding defeat, but would be knocked out by a loss coupled with a Saudi Arabia victory over Mexico, who must win to have any chance of remaining in the tournament.

    If Poland lose and Saudi Arabia draw, the two teams will have to be separated by goal difference, which will also be used if Czeslaw Michniewicz's side are defeated and Mexico win.

    Group D

    France are already in the round-of-16 draw and will top Group D as long as they do not lose to Tunisia and Australia do not defeat Denmark, otherwise the Socceroos would move level on six points with Les Bleus.

    While victory would take Australia through, Graham Arnold's side would still reach the knockout stage with a draw unless Tunisia beat France, which would see Jalel Kadri's men progress on goal difference.

    Denmark would grab qualification with a win over Australia unless Tunisia triumph over France, which would leave goal difference or goals scored to separate the Carthage Eagles and Kasper Hjulmand's men.

    Group E

    Spain are the favourites to progress from Group E, requiring a win or draw against Japan. Defeat would see Luis Enrique's side still go through on goal difference, unless Germany lose to Costa Rica.

    Germany must pick up three points to stay in contention and would qualify as long as Spain defeat Japan, though a draw in the latter game or a win for Hajime Moriyasu's men would see goal difference needed.

    A win for Japan over Spain would take Moriyasu's side through, while a draw – coupled with a stalemate for Germany – would also see the Samurai Blue make the knockout stage.

    Costa Rica would earn a last-16 spot with victory and a point would also take them through if Spain overcome Japan. A draw in both games or a defeat for Fernando Suarez's side sees them eliminated.

    Group F

    Croatia will pass through Group F if they avoid defeat against Belgium, who require victory against the 2018 runners-up to guarantee a place in the round of 16.

    Such a win for Belgium would leave Croatia needing already eliminated Canada to overcome Morocco, with goal difference coming into play to separate Zlatko Dalic's side from the Atlas Lions.

    A draw is likely not enough for Belgium. They would need Morocco to lose to Canada and then rely on goal difference, though Walid Regragui's men (+2) hold the advantage over Roberto Martinez's side (-1) in the decisive metric.

    Morocco would progress with victory over Canada, while a defeat would see Regragui's side reliant on Belgium beating Croatia for goal difference to be decisive between Dalic's men and the Atlas Lions for second.

    Group G

    Brazil have secured knockout football and will finish as Group G winners with anything other than defeat against Cameroon, who need victory against Tite's side and results to go their way to make the last 16.

    Rigobert Song's men would be eliminated if they do not win, though victory is not guaranteed to secure progression as Switzerland could play out a high-scoring draw with Serbia to go through on goals scored, which is used if sides cannot be separated on goal difference – Cameroon are currently on -1 and Switzerland level in the latter metric.

    The somewhat expected scenario of Cameroon losing to Brazil would see Serbia and Switzerland become a winner-takes-all clash. 

    Dragan Stojkovic's side need victory to progress in that instance, while a draw would be enough for Switzerland. Goal difference would be required if Serbia (-2) and Cameroon (-1) both win their final encounters.

    Group H

    Portugal are already through and would top Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea, who could still make a late charge for the round-of-16 stage should the result between Uruguay and Ghana go their way.

    The permutations are straightforward for Uruguay and South Korea, who must win to avoid elimination, though qualification is not assured even with victory.

    Both teams would be level on four points with victories, again leading to goal difference to separate. Yet, if Ghana beat Uruguay then South Korea's result against Portugal will prove irrelevant for Paulo Bento's side.

    A draw for Ghana and a win for South Korea would also see goal difference required to split the two sides, with Bento's men trailing the Black Stars by one in that metric, which could mean goals scored comes into it.

  • Woodward calls for Jones dismissal if England lose Six Nations opener against Scotland Woodward calls for Jones dismissal if England lose Six Nations opener against Scotland

    Eddie Jones should be sacked as England head coach if his side fail to beat Scotland in next year's Six Nations opener, says former boss Clive Woodward.

    The Australian oversaw a 27-13 defeat to world champions to South Africa on Saturday, another chastening result for his side ahead of next year's Rugby World Cup following a loss to Argentina at Twickenham.

    With just one win in November against Japan, England were well beaten by a Springboks team missing key European-based players,

    Woodward, who masterminded the Red Rose's 2003 Rugby World Cup, believes Jones' position should be under threat ahead of the latest Rugby Football Union (RFU) review.

    "England are not just losing, they are going backwards at an alarming rate of knots," he wrote in his Daily Mail column.

    "A full and totally transparent review must be done immediately to look into where the team are at. As head coach, Eddie Jones has serious questions to answer. Everything must be scrutinised."

    Woodward has pointed to the RFU's culpability too, in reference to a review panel that has assessed his tenure periodically.

    The 66-year-old feels he should have been asked to investigate the incumbent head coach, while shooting down suggestions he wants a role within the governing body.

    "Since 2019, when Jones' England failed to turn up in the World Cup final, this anonymous panel has conducted two utterly pointless reviews," he added.

    "For reasons which have never been explained to me, I have never been invited to participate in any of these reviews. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I believe I am the most qualified Englishman to conduct an investigation.

    "People might read that and think I'm angling for a job. Nothing could be further from the truth. The role as RFU director of rugby would have interested me 10 years ago, but that ship has long since sailed.

    "Jones needs to feel some serious heat from his employers. I would say to him: 'Forget the next World Cup, if you lose your next game against Scotland in the Six Nations you're out of your job.'

    "If Jones has to get paid off [through his contract], then so be it. Stop talking about the World Cup. It epitomises the cosy culture of English rugby and is a sure-fire way to keep your job no matter how poorly you perform.

    England will face Scotland at Twickenham on February 4 to kick off their Six Nations campaign ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

  • Boxing superstar Canelo issues Messi warning over alleged Mexico disrespect Boxing superstar Canelo issues Messi warning over alleged Mexico disrespect

    Canelo Alvarez has issued a warning to Lionel Messi as he accused the Argentina forward of disrespecting the Mexico flag following Saturday's World Cup clash.

    Argentina kept their hopes of being crowned champions alive with a 2-0 victory over Mexico, Messi scoring the opening goal with a sublime finish from outside the penalty area.

    Messi has incurred the wrath of boxing superstar Canelo after footage emerged of the Argentina captain with either a Mexico shirt in front of him on the floor in the dressing room during the post-match celebrations.

    As  Messi pulled off his boot, he appeared to have caught the shirt with his foot and Canelo was not impressed.

    "Did you see Messi cleaning the floor with our shirt and flag ???? I ask God that I don't find [him]!!" he posted on Twitter.

    The Mexican fighter added: "Just as I respect Argentina, you have to respect Mexico!! I'm not talking about the country [Argentina] I’m talking about Messi because of the b******* he did.

    Canelo wrote in another social media post: "Since the Mexico shirt is on the ground, it's already an insult. Stop b*******ing about what was or wasn't."

    Argentina go into their final Group C game against leaders Poland knowing a win will put them into the round of 16, while a draw will be sufficient if Mexico draw with Saudi Arabia.

    Mexico need a win to have any chance of progressing, while they also need a helping hand from Poland. 

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