Reds end nears for Horwill, Genia

If his words somehow didn’t do it justice, Queensland Reds halfback Will Genia illustrated just how much Suncorp Stadium means to him with a simple gesture after his final home game for the club.

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The Reds were dealt a 24-3 defeat by the Chiefs to add a tinge of frustration to the cocktail of emotions that bubbled in Brisbane as Genia and former captain James Horwill said goodbye to an adoring crowd of more than 25,000 fans.

But it took no gloss off the occasion for Genia, who knelt down amidst a gushing on-field farewell presentation after the match and kissed the turf.

“A bit over the top, but I love this place,” he said.

“I’ve never taken for granted the opportunity to play here at Suncorp, it’s an incredible stadium.

“It’s the old cliche – I never thought I’d play for Queensland. Ever.

“Never thought I’d play one game, let alone 100 games.

“I’ve appreciated it a hell of a lot.”

Genia and Horwill, who will both play in Europe next season, have one more chance to taste victory in their Reds careers when they face the NSW Waratahs in Sydney next weekend to close a dismal Super Rugby season.

Queensland had their chances to notch a win against the Chiefs on the back of their overwhelming set-piece dominance, but fluffed their lines in attack and were made to pay by the three-try visitors, who were comparatively surgical in their precision going forward.

“We threw a lot of shots at them – I don’t think anyone’s going to say that we didn’t go down swinging,” Horwill said.

“We just came up short, we gave them some unstructured ball that they cherished and they capitalised on a couple of opportunities that they got.”

Coach Richard Graham admits it will be impossible to replace the 200-plus games of experience Horwill and Genia will take with them when they leave.

“It leaves an enormous dent,” he said.

“The passion, dedication and commitment that both of them (show) in terms of their training and playing, it’s certainly going to be missed.

“This week is an emotional week because it’s both their last game here but as we said in the changerooms, there’s still one more game to go.

“I reckon the performance that we’ll see from both these guys next week will be a true indication of how much they care about the place.”

Qld children’s hospital denies turning away ill kids

The governing body for the new children’s hospital in Brisbane has denied a report that sick children are being turned away because of a lack of beds.

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The Sunday Mail reports that seriously ill children are being diverted from the Lady Cilento hospital and surgery cancelled amid a shortage of beds and staff.

However the chief executive of Children’s Health Queensland Hospital and Health Service, Fionnagh Dougan, says while elective surgery is occasionally rescheduled, no seriously ill children have been turned away.

“The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH) is not full and has capacity to admit any child requiring tertiary-level in-patient care,” Ms Dougan said in a statement on Sunday.

“The LCCH has never turned away a seriously ill or injured child requiring emergency care.

“There is no instance of or plans to transfer a child interstate for emergency surgery.”

The Sunday Mail article refers to a hospital director’s email to staff that reportedly says the facility is at “absolute capacity” and foreshadows the cancellation of major surgery.

Ms Dougan said there had been more patients than usual in recent weeks and the hospital’s pediatric intensive care unit could increase its average capacity as required.

It is standard practice to transfer children to other hospitals to ensure intensive care beds remain available at Lady Cilento, she said.

Queensland Nurses Union secretary Beth Mohle said she is aware the hospital is 30 to 40 theatre nurses short of what is required and existing staff are working excessive overtime.

“I’m not aware of any particular examples of children being turned away, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that is occurring if they haven’t got sufficient staffing to safely care for children,” Ms Mohle said.

Staffing shortages has been a problem since the transition to Lady Cilento from Brisbane’s previous children’s hospitals, the Royal and the Mater, she said.

Lehmann wants more from Aussie batsmen

For all the excitement about Australia’s emphatic three-day Test win over the West Indies in Dominica, the performance of the top order has come into question.

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Australia came away with a nine-wicket victory in Dominica, but not before slumping to 6-126 in their first innings.

Worryingly, it’s the 20th time in 46 innings that Australia have lost five or more wickets for less than 150 runs.

Coach Darren Lehmann admits it’s a statistic that leaves him worried.

“That was a disappointing output … we need our top six making runs,” Lehmann said.

“We know that, to perform how we want to perform in each Test match.

“The tail got us out of jail here and they’ve done that a bit in the past. The batters will be working hard to get it right.”

Australia’s saving grace has been their tail-enders as it was in Dominica.

Adam Voges, who scored an unbeaten 130 on debut, combined with the last four batsmen to lift Australia’s first innings to 318.

In the past year, Australia have added 100 or more runs after being seven down four times.

Fast bowlers Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood as well as Nathan Lyon have all proven their worth with the bat as well as the ball.

With several members of the batting lineup having their first red-ball bat in the first Test for months, Lehmann is hopeful Australia will be better for the experience in the second Test in Jamaica starting on Thursday.

“We were a little bit rusty the first hour with the ball on the first day because blokes hadn’t played in a bit,” Lehmann said.

“The same with the bat in the first innings.

“Hopefully all the cricket we’ve played, with the tour game and the training, hopefully in Jamaica we’ll start to settle into that five-day Test mode.

“It’s not a concern. It’s just about the batters adapting better.”

WAGGING TAIL – Australia’s tail-end batting efforts in past year

3-140 v West Indies, Dominica 2015

3-154 v India, MCG 2014

2-84 v India, MCG 2014

3-110 v India, Gabba, 2014

3-68 v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi 2014

3-8 v Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, 2014

3-41 v Pakistan, Dubai 2014

3-105 v Pakistan, Dubai 2014

‘Drained’ Mo Farah withdraws from UK meet

A “drained” Mo Farah has withdrawn from the Diamond League athletics meet in Birmingham a day after insisting he will not leave coach Alberto Salazar despite a BBC documentary alleging the latter had encouraged his athletes to use illegal substances.

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The 32-year-old Briton, the double Olympic, world and European champion over both 5000 and 10,000 metres, said he was “emotionally and physically drained”.

“This week has been very stressful and taken a lot out of me,” he said in a statement.

“I have not been able to focus properly on today’s race and after the events of the last few days I feel emotionally and physically drained.

“I want to run well in the World Championships in Beijing and have decided it is better for me to go back to the US, seek answers to my questions and get back into training.

“I apologise to the people who bought tickets to come and watch me race and ask for your understanding at this time.”

Farah had said at a press conference on Saturday he was “angry” his name had “been dragged through the mud” and he had seen no evidence linking Salazar to doping.

“I’m not leaving Alberto, for the reason I’ve not seen any clear evidence,” said Farah.

There is no suggestion Farah has done anything wrong and Salazar strongly denies all claims made by the BBC documentary, namely that he had encouraged athletes including the United States’ Olympic 10,000 metres silver medallist Galen Rupp, a training partner of Farah, to use illegal substances.

“I’m a clean athlete. I’m against drugs 100 per cent and believe anyone caught should be banned for life,” Farah said on Saturday.

Guam find their voice ahead of first home World Cup qualifier

To mark Thursday’s historic fixture at the National Training Center in Hagatna, Guam’s goalkeeping coach Adrian Creamer tapped his musical friends to provide a football anthem.

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Creamer’s contact was Ronan McManus, the younger brother of British singer-songwriter Elvis Costello, who wrote and released “Biba Guahan” with his band Brand New Zeros which the Guam Football Association have posted for free online.

“It’s sort of a Hollywood story, really,” McManus was quoted as saying by Sunday’s Pacific Daily News. “A small nation really making great strides. You can feel the excitement.”

Some members of the British-based band needed some convincing at first, McManus said.

“There was a little bit of an explanation as to where Guam is, but once they heard the story they all loved it. They were happy to be involved. They were delighted.”

And hopes are high of a happy ending to Thursday’s script for the team known as the ‘Matao’, a traditional term for the indigenous Chamorro population that refers to courage.

Since the arrival of Englishman Garry White in 2012 as head coach and technical director the double digit devastations have ceased for the side which became FIFA members in 1996.

In 2013, they recorded a first win over Taiwan and last year achieved their best ever FIFA ranking of 160th, a sizeable feat for a squad headlined by Los Angeles Galaxy defender A.J. DeLaGarza but featuring many players with limited U.S. college experience.

For Jason Cunliffe, the side’s 31-year-old skipper and forward who juggles his national team duties with working in a bank, the opportunity was one to grab with both hands.

“We go out to win,” he told FIFA. “We are looking to take scalps. We are not going to sit back and park the bus. We are going to come at you, and you will have to beat us.”

White, who was released by English Premier League side Southampton as a youth player, couldn’t wait for the opening match of the joint World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying campaign.

“The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the planet. It’s bigger than the Olympics,” White, who held similar roles with other tropical minnows British Virgin Islands and Bahamas, told the Pacific Daily News.

“This type of event could inspire our next generation of players. It could be the turning point for some of them.”

Thursday’s match is followed by another home qualifier on June 16 against India, the world’s second most populous nation.

A trip to Iran follows in September at the Azadi Stadium in Tehran, which could almost house the entire population of Guam having routinely hosted 100,000 fans for matches. Oman are also Group D opponents.

Cunliffe said the home fixtures were a chance to put Guam, which takes four hours in a flight from Manila, on the map.

“We can show them that maybe we only have a population of about 180,000, but when we come to play, we can bring it, too,” he told local media.

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)