SPORTS DAY: Battle of the smoking-hot hookers in store

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SPORTS DAY: Battle of the smoking-hot hookers in store

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

Sunday Times sports editor


RUGBY
All Blacks hooker Taylor talks down Marx showdown
Even off the field‚ hookers tend not to give each other an inch. All Blacks front-rower Codie Taylor seemed to back off when he was reminded he will face the world’s best hooker on Saturday. “Yeah. If the world thinks that‚ I suppose. He’s a great player‚” Taylor said about Malcolm Marx in decibel levels in contrast to the booming performances he routinely delivers. I take my hat off to the way he plays. I don’t get caught up in that. If I play well that’s what I focus on. It means you have to be on your game because you want to perform yourself. Knowing that you are going up against a great player has its own motivations I suppose but I don’t want to get too caught up in that because you can bottle yourself into thinking that.”
Boks brace for an intense scrum and mauling battle 
The All Blacks have highly experienced scrummagers such as Codie Taylor‚ Scott Barrett‚ Owen Franks‚ Dan Coles and Sam Whitelock‚ and they troubled the Springboks in Wellington three weeks ago. They are expected to be a handful again on Saturday. Looking ahead to a showdown that could see the Springboks complete a rare double over the sworn enemy‚ Bok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot acknowledged that the All Blacks boast a powerful pack. “They are a fantastic scrumming unit and we know it is going to be a huge challenge at scrum time.” 
Shock defeat to Japan to be immortalised on film
The Springboks will never escape that they became the first of rugby’s royalty to lose to Japan‚ and now that infamous day is set to be immortalised on film. Australian filmmaker Max Mannix will start filming of Japan’s historic 34-32 win over the Springboks in Brighton at Rugby World Cup 2015 early next year. Mannix will direct the movie‚ provisionally titled The Brighton Miracle. “What Eddie Jones and his team did in 2015 was truly magnificent and worthy of being remembered‚” Mannix said. “The story goes beyond rugby in the same way Chariots of Fire wasn’t just about running. That was more a film about the distinction between class‚ belief and religion. No one gave the Japan team a chance against South Africa‚ who at the time were the most successful World Cup team in history.”
CRICKET
Tahir, Steyn lead SA to victory
Spinner Imran Tahir took a hat-trick on his way to 6-24 while Dale Steyn hit a career-best 60 as SA raced to a 120-run win over Zimbabwe in the second ODI at Mangaung Oval on Wednesday. SA, who won the first match by five wickets at the weekend, made 198 before dismissing Zimbabwe for just 78.  SA lead the three-match series 2-0.
Strauss steps down from England director role
Andrew Strauss announced on Wednesday that he is standing down as England’s director of cricket following a period of compassionate leave. Strauss’s wife Ruth was diagnosed with cancer during the Ashes in December 2017 and he took a break from his position earlier this year after she began a new course of treatment. The former Test captain, who had been in the post for three-and-a-half years, has told the England and Wales Cricket Board that he will not be returning to his role. He will take on a “flexible” position with the governing body. Andy Flower, who has been standing in since May, will continue to hold the reins until December while recruitment of a permanent successor takes place.
SOCCER
Downs, Maritzburg agree on deal for Ndlovu
Siphesihle Ndlovu’s transfer to Mamelodi Sundowns at the end of the season is in the player’s hands‚ said Maritzburg United chairman Farook Kadodia. He confirmed that United and Sundowns have agreed in principle on a deal for Ndlovu to be sold to the Brazilians on July 1 2019. “Club to club we have agreed. At that time I don’t know whether‚ behind the scenes‚ there was any conversation between Sundowns and the player‚” Kadodia said. “For any transfer to go through it has to be a clubs and player agreement. So the two clubs and the player – not only the clubs.”
TENNIS
Del Potro to draw on Mascherano ‘passion’
Juan Martin del Potro says he hopes to emulate the “passion” of notoriously feisty fellow Argentine Javier Mascherano after sealing his spot at the ATP Finals on Wednesday. The towering Del Potro, enjoying one of the best seasons of his injury-blighted career, dismissed Russia’s stubborn Karen Khachanov 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in Beijing to surge into the quarterfinals of the China Open. Significantly, victory means that Del Potro has qualified for the season-ending ATP Finals for the first time since 2013, joining Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in London in November. It underlines the 30-year-old’s return to the men’s elite after years of wrist problems that threatened to destroy his career. Mascherano, an aggressive former Barcelona defender who has close to 150 caps for Argentina, was in the Beijing arena to see his countryman and friend in action.
- AFP, Reuters and TimesLive

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