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Category: Rugby union

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Quade Cooper omitted from Wallabies squad – but Cheika leaves door open for return

  • Playmaker left out of Australia’s extended Bledisloe Cup training squad
  • Eleven uncapped players named by coach Michael Cheika

Quade Cooper has been omitted from Michael Cheika’s extended Wallabies squad ahead of next month’s Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks, although the coach indicated the decision would not spell the end of the flashy but often unpredictable playmaker’s international career.

The move leaves Bernard Foley as the only specialist flyhalf in the extended squad picked by Cheika for a series of training camps starting north of Sydney next week. Kurtley Beale, a utility back who recently returned from England, was recalled to the squad for the first time since the 2015 World Cup and is only other potential No10 in the initial group.

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Lions prop Kyle Sinckler apologises after arrest on night out in Auckland

• Auckland police confirm man arrested following ‘minor disorder’
• Sinckler apologised for ‘any inconvenience caused’

The British & Irish Lions prop Kyle Sinckler has apologised for “any inconvenience caused” after he was arrested during a night out in Auckland at the weekend.

Auckland police confirmed that a man was placed under arrest but not charged following an incident involving “minor disorder” in the early hours of Sunday morning.

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Sam Warburton the Lions’ brightest star in series that had everything | Robert Kitson

The Lions captain did not make the starting XV for the first Test but his influence in the second and third matches against New Zealand was incalculable

There are several defining images from the 2017 British & Irish Lions tour, many of them involving the same colour: the red card shown to Sonny Bill Williams in Wellington, Warren Gatland’s red clown nose, the oceans of red in the stadiums and, perhaps above all else, the red‑shirted Lions captain, Sam Warburton, jokingly yanking the trophy towards himself as he and his New Zealand opposite number, Kieran Read, posed for end-of-series photographs.

Related: Warren Gatland sees Lions’ draw against All Blacks as next best thing to success | Andy Bull

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Warren Gatland sees Lions’ draw against All Blacks as next best thing to success | Andy Bull

Head coach is justifiably proud of his team’s achievement of a tied series against the best team in the world on their home territory

Warren Gatland lost his red nose somewhere along the way on Saturday night, but he did have a couple of black bags under his eyes on Sunday morning. He said he was feeling fresh, but you would not have guessed it to look at him. It had been “a pretty quiet night,” he said, “quiet for me, anyway.”

Related: Sam Warburton the Lions’ brightest star in series that had everything

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Warren Gatland sees Lions’ draw against All Blacks as next best thing to success | Andy Bull

Head coach is justifiably proud of his team’s achievement of a tied series against the best team in the world on their home territory

Warren Gatland lost his red nose somewhere along the way on Saturday night, but he did have a couple of black bags under his eyes on Sunday morning. He said he was feeling fresh, but you would not have guessed it to look at him. It had been “a pretty quiet night,” he said, “quiet for me, anyway.”

Related: Sam Warburton the Lions’ brightest star in series that had everything

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Wimbledon, cricket and strawberries: the joys of summer’s ‘odd years’

The ‘even years’ of a decade – 2010, 2012, and so on – are packed with Olympic drama and World Cup heartbreak. But 2017 has a different rhythm

They are sometimes called “the odd years”. The “even years” – those that end in 0, 2, 4, 6 and 8 – snaffle the most prestigious, watercooler, down-the-pub sporting events: football World Cups, the Euros, Olympics. The odd years, meanwhile, are stuck with just the solid perennials: Wimbledon, the Tour de France, Test matches.

But there are pleasures to be had in the odd years, in the same way that strawberries taste better when bought from a roadside stall in June than when they’re shipped halfway round the world in February. Summer in Britain should, in the natural order of things, be dominated by tennis, cycling and cricket. Men’s football can handle being knocked off the back pages every once in a while.

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New Zealand media attack referee Romain Poite’s late penalty U-turn

• Decision of accidental offside by Ken Owens labelled a ‘French farce’
• ‘Whether it was his Wayne Barnes moment remains to be seen’

Romain Poite was always going to be under intense scrutiny after his compatriot Jérôme Garcès sent off Sonny Bill Williams in the second Test but the Frenchman’s decision to rescind the late penalty awarded against Ken Owens guaranteed the attention of the host nation’s media after the All Blacks had to settle for a draw in both match and series.

Related: Lions and All Blacks draw thrilling final Test and series

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Lions prepare for a last whirl that could live in the memory for decades

There is a glint in the eye of Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions as they gear up for win-or-bust moment against New Zealand

One last spin of the roulette wheel and the 2017 British & Irish Lions will be history. This has already been a hell of a tour and everything now rests on the starkest of endgames. Red or black? It has the feel of one of those classic cinematic moments when the whole enthralled casino gathers round to watch the win-or-bust conclusion.

Peering over the players’ shoulders from afar, too, are the boys of 1971, the only Lions side in history to have conquered the oval-shaped Everest of a series victory in New Zealand.

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Rob Howley hits out at ‘disgraceful’ NZ media treatment of Warren Gatland

• Backs coach says Gatland will be All Blacks coach one day
• ‘The way Warren Gatland’s been treated has been an absolute disgrace’

The British & Irish Lions’ anger over the way Warren Gatland has been portrayed in the New Zealand media has resurfaced before the winner-takes-all third Test at Eden Park. Rob Howley, the Lions’ backs coach, has described some of the treatment of Gatland as “a disgrace” and predicted the 53-year-old will be a future All Black head coach.

Among other things, Gatland has been mocked as a clown in a full-page newspaper cartoon but he could yet have the last laugh if the Lions win a series in New Zealand for the first time since 1971. “The way Warren Gatland’s been treated has been a disgrace, an absolute disgrace,” said Howley. “We’re certainly aware of the NZ media and how they’ve portrayed certain personnel over the last couple of weeks.

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Rob Howley hits out at ‘disgraceful’ NZ media treatment of Warren Gatland

• Backs coach says Gatland will be All Blacks coach one day
• ‘The way Warren Gatland’s been treated has been an absolute disgrace’

The British & Irish Lions’ anger over the way Warren Gatland has been portrayed in the New Zealand media has resurfaced before the winner-takes-all third Test at Eden Park. Rob Howley, the Lions’ backs coach, has described some of the treatment of Gatland as “a disgrace” and predicted the 53-year-old will be a future All Black head coach.

Among other things, Gatland has been mocked as a clown in a full-page newspaper cartoon but he could yet have the last laugh if the Lions win a series in New Zealand for the first time since 1971. “The way Warren Gatland’s been treated has been a disgrace, an absolute disgrace,” said Howley. “We’re certainly aware of the NZ media and how they’ve portrayed certain personnel over the last couple of weeks.

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Hymns and hope as Lions fans await the greatest All Black test

Around 25,000 British and Irish fans have arrived in Auckland, staying in campervans and hotels, amid huge hype of an extraordinary rugby showdown

Over the past six weeks, members of the Lions four nations choir have sung in blustery southerlies, skin-blistering sun, and over the sneezes and coughs of New Zealand kids in the middle of winter.

Thursday night, though, was their greatest challenge – being buffeted by horizontal rain as members of their rugby squad marched by in handsome maroon blazers, flanked by wives and girlfriends in dresses and heels.

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Hymns and hope as Lions fans await the greatest All Black test

Around 25,000 British and Irish fans have arrived in Auckland, staying in campervans and hotels, amid huge hype of an extraordinary rugby showdown

Over the past six weeks, members of the Lions four nations choir have sung in blustery southerlies, skin-blistering sun, and over the sneezes and coughs of New Zealand kids in the middle of winter.

Thursday night, though, was their greatest challenge – being buffeted by horizontal rain as members of their rugby squad marched by in handsome maroon blazers, flanked by wives and girlfriends in dresses and heels.

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Warren Gatland sets the agenda for Lions’ last push against New Zealand

• There is going to be an improvement in the All Blacks, says coach
• Romain Poite asked to be ‘open minded’ during Eden Park decider

Warren Gatland says his British & Irish Lions players are physically equipped to handle whatever New Zealand can throw at them on Saturday and will be disappointed if they now fail to win the series.

Gatland and his Lions are fully aware the All Blacks have not lost a Test at Eden Park since 1994 but, after a vigorous training session described as “tasty”, are not about to back down in the third Test. “We’re ready for it,” said the coach, who anticipates a full-frontal assault from a side who have not lost a series to the Lions since 1971. “There’s going to be an improvement in the All Blacks but it’s something we don’t think is going to be a shock to us.”

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Warren Gatland trusts his gut instinct and his Lions of Wellington | Robert Kitson

The Lions head coach has picked an unchanged side against the All Blacks who are looking a little uncertain with their three changes for the Eden Park decider

For a glimpse of what might lie ahead for the British & Irish Lions in the closing 80 minutes of their New Zealand tour, it is worth recalling the final act of their previous series win here in 1971. The Lions were 2-1 up going into the fourth and final Test and the All Blacks kicked off like men possessed. “For the first 20 minutes the New Zealanders played as if they’d drunk an energy potion,” the great fly‑half Barry John recalled. “I thought we were going to be stuffed.”

Related: Steve Hansen hoping pressure on All Blacks is a challenge, not a burden | Andy Bull

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Warren Gatland trusts his gut instinct and his Lions of Wellington | Robert Kitson

The Lions head coach has picked an unchanged side against the All Blacks who are looking a little uncertain with their three changes for the Eden Park decider

For a glimpse of what might lie ahead for the British & Irish Lions in the closing 80 minutes of their New Zealand tour, it is worth recalling the final act of their previous series win here in 1971. The Lions were 2-1 up going into the fourth and final Test and the All Blacks kicked off like men possessed. “For the first 20 minutes the New Zealanders played as if they’d drunk an energy potion,” the great fly‑half Barry John recalled. “I thought we were going to be stuffed.”

Related: Steve Hansen hoping pressure on All Blacks is a challenge, not a burden | Andy Bull

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Steve Hansen hoping pressure on All Blacks is a challenge, not a burden | Andy Bull

All Blacks coach expects a tight game and says rebuilding his team after the retirement of so many great players has been harder than people think

It has been a long while since the All Blacks lost in Auckland. Two decades, three years and three days, to be exact. But then, as Sam Whitelock said on Tuesday, “we shouldn’t have to lose to learn”, and in among all those victories, one seems particularly instructive right now.

It is the most famous of the lot, the 2011 World Cup final against France. A game a lot of New Zealanders assumed they would breeze through but which, in the end, turned out as close as they come, settled by a single point, 8-7. That match was a different order of magnitude again to the one being played on Saturday. But still, the third Test against the British & Irish Lions is, everyone agrees, the biggest that has been played in New Zealand since. “It definitely has that feel,” Jerome Kaino said, when he was asked how it compared to the World Cup final.

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Warren Gatland names unchanged Lions side for deciding Test against New Zealand

• Wales full back Liam Williams passed fit to start after Wellington win
• Jordie Barrett, Julian Savea and Ngani Laumape to start for New Zealand

The British & Irish Lions will enter the decisive final Test against New Zealand believing they have already identified the best recipe to win the series. With the teams level at 1-1 the head coach, Warren Gatland, has urged his players to make history after retaining his faith in the starting XV from the 24-21 win against the All Blacks last week and also naming the same bench.

Related: Win, lose or draw, Lions tour has enhanced Warren Gatland’s reputation

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Lions’ Irish players steeled for decider having felt force of wounded All Blacks

Prop Tadhg Furlong is among the Lions who faced the All Blacks for Ireland last year and knows the physical battle they must win to make history in Auckland

It is cold and clear in beautiful central Otago, the home of bungee jumping, fruit orchards and fine wine making. The British and Irish Lions are starting their week at leisure in jet boats, off-road vehicles and helicopters but the most important night of their rugby lives is fast approaching. By the time they transfer back up to Auckland they need to be fully focused on the All Blacks and, specifically, how to beat them twice in a row.

Winning a Wimbledon final against Roger Federer in his heyday or shooting 63 in the final round to win the Open at Royal Birkdale would be simpler than defeating the All Blacks in a series-defining Test in Auckland where the home side have not lost in 23 years. The good news for the Lions is that Saturday’s 24-21 victory over New Zealand has given them a shot at one of the game’s ultimate prizes.

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Warren Gatland wary of All Blacks’ response after Lions ‘poked the bear’

• Coach cautions against winding up New Zealand before decisive third Test
• ‘Hopefully the wounded Lion from last week is still recovering as well’

Warren Gatland says his British & Irish Lions players can go on and win the series after their dramatic 24-21 success against New Zealand in the second Test. The Lions head coach is wary, nevertheless, of a ferocious response from the All Blacks on Saturday, acknowledging the Lions have “poked the bear” with their victory in Wellington.

The Lions have transferred to the south island for a couple of days’ relaxation and recuperation but are confident they can improve further in the decisive third Test in Auckland. “Yes, we have poked the bear but hopefully the wounded Lion from last week is still recovering as well,” said Gatland, suitably encouraged by the evidence of the first two Tests.

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Sonny Bill Williams ban could be blessing for the All Blacks | Gerard Meagher

New Zealand’s Sonny Bill Williams will miss the third Test against the Lions through suspension, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has plenty of potential replacements

Not long after Warren Gatland had named his British & Irish Lions squad in April, Steve Hansen warned his compatriot against trying to replicate Ireland’s method of victory against the All Blacks in Chicago. It will be intriguing to hear if Gatland has any words of wisdom for his rival this week; to hear what he may think of New Zealand looking to bounce back from defeat in the same manner as against Ireland, a couple of weeks later in Dublin.

Not least because the suspension of Sonny Bill Williams means there is every chance Malakai Fekitoa will return to the All Blacks midfield alongside Anton Lienert-Brown, just as he was at the Aviva Stadium.

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