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Pumas the perfect audition for under pressure O’Brien

Saturday's game is a big test for Sean O'Brien, a key moment in his career.

Is he the first-choice openside on form in that back row?

I'd say Josh van der Flier and Dan Leavy might have something to say about that, even Rhys Ruddock to an extent.

He hasn't been firing on all cylinders for Leinster, he's not the same barnstorming player we saw on the Lions tour in 2017.

His injury problems this year have been well documented and he needs to get back up to speed, starting with Argentina at the Aviva in the first of the Guinness Series games (Live on RTÉ2, kick-off 6.30pm).

Joe Schmidt is saying to him, "okay, you've had a few games for Leinster, let's see your mettle when it comes to a big international game".

Having two very experienced lads beside him in Peter O'Mahony and CJ Stander doesn't hurt. They'll share the workload but I'm expecting a huge game from Sean.

When Joe picks guys like this, they tend to perform, and Sean, as much as anyone, knows how to turn it on on the big stage.

And if he turns in a 'Sean O'Brien Performance' then I expect him to keep his place for the All Blacks next weekend.

New Zealand actually hold him in high regard. Argentina is a big game for Sean because those guys behind him are young and enthusiastic, have lots of ability and are not going to roll over just because it's Sean O'Brien.

I'm surprised Tadhg Beirne didn't get his name somewhere on the sheet.

I know Jordan Larmour got man of the match against Italy but, speaking as a forward, Beirne's work-rate, his carries, his offloads were really good and I thought that would get him onto the bench ahead of Devin Toner, who also played well off the bench in that game.

Many people would have expected Luke McGrath perhaps – based on his Leinster form and his try-scoring – to start this game.

However, his box-kicking was very average against Italy, he knocked one on in the backfield, and missed a tackle.

A lot of Ulster fans won't be happy that John Cooney didn't make the cut this time but Kieran Marmion has served his time behind probably the best scrum-half in the world in Conor Murray and deserves his shot.

Even though he has 22 caps, everyone remembers him for jumping on to the wing against Australia in 2016 and doing a really good job – the head coach certainly hasn't forgotten that.

I know Joe said at today's press conference that Rob Kearney and Larmour will be fighting for the 15 shirt next week but if Rob is fit next week I don't think that it's between him and anyone, it's his place.

Joe always goes back to the tried and tested for the big games. Against the All Blacks he needs people he can trust and Kearney has earned Joe's trust.

He just makes the right decisions at the right times.

If you ask people what's your favourite back row, they'll say the best three ball-carriers; if you ask what's your favourite back three, they'll say the three fastest flashiest guys but you've got to have balance.

That's what O'Mahony brings to the back row, and what Kearney brings to the back field. You can't just put 15 ball-carrying players into a team and hope that it works. There has to be a strategy behind the selection.

Argy bargy

Whenever I've played against Argentina, the cornerstone of their game plan was a really strong scrum, a strong maul. Very, very physical. I won't say dirty but they were very physical and made life difficult.

Now they seem to have gone away from that and their biggest threat comes from out wide through Ramiro Moyano and Emiliano Boffelli. They have a great out-half in Nicolas Sanchez, with his kicking game. You are going to see some more wide play.

They scored an average of 25 points per game in the Rugby Championship, however, they conceded 33 points per game. In years gone by they were happy to stick it up the jumper and grind teams down but that's changed.

They are very passionate and never lie down.

It's going to be a thrilling Test match but any team that concedes like that against the big teams, of which Ireland are one, are in trouble.

If the weather brightens up, I can see Ireland notching up 35-40 points and restricting the Pumas to a couple of tries.

Stephen Ferris is an analyst on RTÉ's coverage of Ireland v Argentina. Follow via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to live commentary on RTÉ Radio 1 this Saturday (kick-off 6.30pm)

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CPA call on fixture motion to be backed

CPA chairman Micheál Briody has called on all Central Council delegates to support a motion for an immediate review to be conducted on the GAA annual fixture list.

The motion, put forward by Roscommon GAA, is on the agenda for the meeting of the GAA’s main decision-making group, and the club player representative body want to see it passed.

CPA chairman Micheál Briody said: "It is no surprise that Roscommon GAA have stepped forward to say enough is enough, someone had to say stop sooner or later. It is a fairly serious matter when a county committee feels they need to step in and plead for common sense to prevail.

"For almost two years now the CPA has called for an immediate 'blank canvas' approach to fixing the fixtures.

"Some progress has been made but the lack of real urgency is not acceptable in our view. Behind the recent ESRI and CPA findings and submissions are the lives of young sports people.

"Years and sports careers pass very quickly as this report actually highlights. This in our view places an enormous requirement and responsibility for leadership and decisive action."

The introduction of Tier 2 football competitions is also on the agenda and Briody feels the structure of fixtures needs to be addressed before introducing new competitions.

He added: "We are witnessing a number of alarming developments in the GAA. We were told that no change to the playing calendar could be considered for three years yet here we are with two proposals on the table for Tier 2 competitions in football.

"There is inherent value in a multi-tiered football structure but it beggars belief that this is being brought to the table as yet another incremental change that could sound the death knell for summer club football which is already practically extinct.

"This comes on the back of the GAA-sanctioned breaches of its own rules by allowing tournament matches involving Tier 1 hurling counties in Australia and the United States.

"In some respects yes, that is a matter for individual counties, but it sends out a message that the hierarchy is able to cherry pick its own rule book. One of the recent findings among players was that they needed a break."

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Euro 2020 draw: Seedings clearer after Nations League

Germany are set to be a second seed in the draw for Euro 2020 following the conclusion of the UEFA Nations League group stage tonight.

Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will be third seeds as expected.

In the draw, the four teams in the final of the Nations League, Netherlands, England, Switzerland and Portugal, will be placed in a separate pot and drawn into Groups A–D which only have five teams.

The rest of the groups will have six teams with a team from each pot. Ireland could secure a play-off if failing to qualify automatically, but it is dependent on how many teams from Pot 4 and Pot 5 qualify. The top two from each group progress to the main tournament.

The play-off formula is semi-finals and final as opposed to the previous two-legged games

The draw is on Sunday 2 December in Dublin.

UEFA 2020 draw expected seedings:

Pot 1

France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Portugal, Italy, Spain, England, Croatia and Poland.

Pot 2

Germany, Iceland, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria, Wales, Denmark, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Sweden.

Pot 3

Slovakia, Turkey, Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Israel, Finland, Norway, Serbia, Bulgaria, Scotland

Pot 4

Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Hungary, Estonia, Cyprus, Slovenia, Romania, Lithuania and Georgia.

Pot 5

Macedonia, Belarus, Kosovo, Luxembourg, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Gibraltar, Faroe Islands

Pot 6

Latvia, Liechtenstein, Andorra, San Marino, Malta

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Hayne reports for bail following aggravated sexual assault charge

Email Jarryd Hayne reports for bail following aggravated sexual assault charge By Mark Reddie

Updated November 21, 2018 00:57:18

Video: Rugby league star Jarryd Hayne leaves Ryde Police Station after being charged with aggravated sexual assault. (ABC News) Related Story: Jarryd Hayne surrenders passport after aggravated sexual assault charge Map: Castle Hill 2154

Rugby league star Jarryd Hayne has reported for bail after being charged with aggravated sexual assault of a woman in the New South Wales Hunter region.

Key points:

  • Hayne spent 10 minutes with police before dodging cameras
  • Alleged victim claimed the pair had non-consensual sex on NRL grand final night
  • She claimed she was badly bitten by Hayne during the encounter

The 30-year-old refused to answer questions from reporters when he was dropped off in a grey ute outside Castle Hill Police Station about 7:30pm on Tuesday.

The two-time Dally M award-winner spent 10 minutes with police before trying to dodge the cameras as he got back into the ute and drove off.

NSW Police confirmed the charge, which came after a 26-year-old woman lodged a complaint to the NRL Integrity Unit earlier this year.

The alleged incident occurred on September 30, on NRL grand final night, at a home in the NSW Hunter region after Hayne and the woman met via social media, police said.

The woman claims she was badly bitten and first reported the incident to the NRL, which then referred the matter to police.

Hayne was questioned at the Ryde Police Station on Monday afternoon and later charged with "aggravated sexual assault inflict actual bodily harm on victim".

Hayne had finished his current contract at the Parramatta Eels on October 31, however the club said they were continuing to provide welfare support.

An Eels spokesperson said as it was a criminal matter, the club would make no further comment.

Hayne was given conditional bail and is due to appear at Burwood Local Court on December 10.

According to court documents, his bail conditions included reporting to police three times a week and surrendering his passport.

Hayne is prohibited from entering international airports or the Newcastle local government area, and must not contact the woman or any witness.

Topics: rugby-league, sport, sexual-offences, law-crime-and-justice, castle-hill-2154

First posted November 20, 2018 22:30:34

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Joy for Scotland as win boosts Euro 2020 hopes

James Forrest scored a stunning Nations League hat-trick as Scotland overcame Israel 3-2 at Hampden Park to book a place in the play-off for the 2020 European Championship.

Alex McLeish's side need victory to leapfrog the visitors to the top of Group C1 but former Celtic midfielder Beram Kayal stunned the home support in the ninth minute when curled in a shot from 30 yards.

However, Hoops winger Forrest, who had scored his first two Scotland goals in the 4-0 win over Albania on Saturday, notched twice in the first half before grabbing a third in the 64th minute from close range with another assured finish.

Midfielder Eran Zahavi reduced the deficit with a fearsome drive in the 75th minute and – amid a nervy finish – only a great save from Scotland goalkeeper Allan McGregor denied the visitors a late equaliser.

Scotland finished with nine points from 12 and can park their play-off fixture until March 2020 and concentrate on the traditional European Championship qualifiers which take place in 2019, with the draw made on December 2 in Dublin.

It was an exhausting evening in the south side of Glasgow. Israel had been by far the better team when they beat the Scots 2-1 in Haifa last month.

However, due to a series of call-offs, it was a much-changed Scotland side which rekindled optimism by emphatically beating Albania 4-0 in Shkoder on Saturday night and McLeish kept the same starting line-up.

Hampden Park was only around half full on a wet and wild evening which appeared to dampen the ardour of the home side in the opening minutes when they fell behind.

Kayal's cross had been turned into his own net by Kieran Tierney for the winner in Israel but this time the goal was certainly his with the Brighton player taking a pass from Zahavi before firing high past McGregor.

The home side toiled at low tempo before midfielder Callum McGregor's dipping volley from 35 yards was tipped past the past by Israel stopper Ariel Harush.

The corner came to nothing but Scotland began to build momentum although their opponents remained threatening on the counter, demonstrated in the 32nd minute when Zahavi almost found striker Munas Dabbur with a whipped-in cross.

However, two minutes later – during another spell of pressure – Forrest was on hand to fire low past Harush from 12 yards after Stuart Armstrong's drive had been blocked.

The home fans came to life for the first time really and their mood was further lifted when midfielder Ryan Christie ran on to a Steven Fletcher header and played in Celtic team-mate Forrest who was again unerring in his powerful finish.

Fletcher headed a Forrest corner over the bar and McGregor drove over from distance as the Scots came out emboldened at the start of the second half.

However, Hampden Park quietened again but only until another incisive Scottish attack down the left which ended with Fraser cutting the ball back for Forrest to side foot in from eight yards.

It was still not over, however. An angled-drive from substitute Dia Seba – on for Dor Peretz – slid past the far post to serve as a warning before Zahavi thundered a 20-yard drive past the flailing McGregor.

The game became increasingly nervy and, with three minutes remaining, McGregor made a wonder save from another Israel substitute Tomer Hemed's close-range effort.

The Tartan Army cheered German referee Tobias Welz's final whistle after four added minutes with some gusto and can turn their attention to the European Championship qualifiers which begin next March, with the insurance policy of possibly qualifying through the Nations League route.

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Cahill given fitting farewell as Socceroos sweep Lebanon aside

Email Socceroos beat Lebanon 3-0 as Tim Cahill given farewell, Martin Boyle scores twice in Sydney

Updated November 20, 2018 22:39:58

Photo: Tim Cahill thanked his family, players, staff and the fans for their support in a fabulous Socceroos career. (AAP: Brendan Esposito) Related Story: As it happened: Boyle's brace sees Socceroos send Cahill off in style Map: Sydney 2000

Tim Cahill has made an emotional farewell to international football in Socceroos colours, with Australia running out 3-0 winners over Lebanon in Sydney.

Key points:

  • Tim Cahill makes last-ever appearance for Socceroos, coming on in 81st minute as a substitute in 3-0 win over Lebanon
  • Martin Boyle scores twice in first half before Mathew Leckie adds a third in the second stanza
  • Win over Lebanon was Socceroos' last run-out before the Asian Cup tournament in January in the UAE

Cahill was given a guard of honour by his teammates after full-time during a special presentation.

"This is the only time you're going to see me cry," Cahill said on the dais alongside his children.

"I want to say thank you firstly to my family for being there from day one.

"The sacrifices my family made for me is the reason why every time I step on that pitch, I'm fearless and free. Nothing I do can hurt me on the pitch, and everything I do is for my family.

"I want to thank my teammates and all the staff I've worked with. Without you guys I'd be nothing.

"The coaches that are not here, the players that are not here, thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

"Now the most important people as well are the fans. It was tough for me to play for Australia at the start, but I tell you what every time I played with the green and gold I played with my heart.

"This is just as much for all of you as it is for me. Thank you very much Australia."

Tim Cahill stands with his family after final Socceroos match Photo: Tim Cahill stands with his family during the special presentation for him after full-time. (AP: Rick Rycroft)

A brace to Scotsman-turned-Australian Martin Boyle, and a brilliant second-half goal for Mat Leckie secured a win for the Socceroos in their last run-out before the Asian Cup in the UAE in January.

Boyle's first goal came midway through the first stanza, lashing home from distance with a fortunate deflection taking the ball beyond the keeper.

Martin Boyle scores for Australia against Lebanon Photo: Martin Boyle (left) scored a brace in just his second appearance for Australia. (AAP: Brendan Esposito)

The Scotsman would have been feeling more than happy with his change in national allegiance in the 42nd minute, prodding the ball home for his second goal after Milos Degenek's excellent header bounced back off the crossbar.

There were some light hearted moments from the bench as Cahill got the crowd going when the cameras spotted him tying his boots, with the cheers getting more raucous as he did his warm-ups.

Tim Cahill smiles as he warms up for Socceroos Photo: Tim Cahill was given tremendous cheers while warming up for his final ever Socceroos appearance. (AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

On the pitch, Leckie made it 3-0 as Boyle turned provider, putting in a low cross for Leckie to lash home emphatically.

The big moment came on the 81st minute when Cahill took his place on the pitch to replace Aaron Mooy, and there was nearly one more moment of magic to come.

Boyle's cross from the right looked perfectly floated and on a plate for Cahill's deadly noggin, only for a last gasp defensive header to rob him of a 51st goal for Australia.

External Link: Socceroos v Lebanon match summary

Topics: socceroos, soccer, sport, sydney-2000, nsw, australia, lebanon

First posted November 20, 2018 21:54:45

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