SPORTS DAY: Lions can look forward to a beastly battle

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SPORTS DAY: Lions can look forward to a beastly battle

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

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RUGBY
Sharks need all the Beast they can get
It’s at this point in the season where the Sharks need all of Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira’s 157-match Super Rugby experience ahead of Friday’s clash against the Lions at Ellis Park. The experienced Springbok loose-head prop will become SA’s most-capped Super Rugby player when he trots onto Ellis Park‚ but the team has always come first for Mtawarira. “The only thing we didn’t do [last weekend] was to win the game so we’re hungry for the victory.”
Mapoe gets to 99th Super cap
Lionel Mapoe admits his Super Rugby journey feels like a rollercoaster ride. It is building to a crescendo, but first he has to strap in for the Sharks in his 99th Super Rugby match at Ellis Park on Friday night. “To be honest I haven’t thought about it being my 99th game. It could have been 100. It has been a rollercoaster but it has been a good rollercoaster‚” said Mapoe. “I’m just worried about playing good rugby.”
Crusaders set for emotion-charged return
The Canterbury Crusaders have dealt with tragedy before, playing their 2011 season on the road after an earthquake flattened much of Christchurch, but Saturday’s home game against ACT Brumbies is likely to be the most emotion-charged in their history. The Super Rugby fixture is the first at home for the nine-times champions since a mass-shooting at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15 left 50 people dead. “It’s uber important for us to play for our community and then to see the community give back to us as well – it just creates a really nice energy that we actually end up being in this together and we’re all one team,” assistant coach Brad Mooar said.
Zimbabwe get helping hand in Hong Kong
Zimbabwe are hoping to snap up a berth on the World Rugby Sevens Series this week in Hong Kong – with a little help from their friends. Hong Kong rugby fans have rallied round the cash-strapped players, raising money for essentials like meals and boots. “Zimbabwe’s not doing well economically and we’ve been struggling ever since. The big problem is getting money out of Zimbabwe,” senior player Tafadzwa Chitokwindo said.
CRICKET
Amla set to return
Hashim Amla will play his first cricket in five weeks next week in what could be his last competitive preparation for the World Cup. Amla‚ who opted out of playing while helping to care for his ill father‚ is available for the Cobras’ T20s against the Lions at the Wanderers on Sunday and the Titans in Benoni on Wednesday. But those may be the only times he takes guard until SA play Sri Lanka in Cardiff on May 24 in the first of two World Cup warm-up fixtures
CSA admit they may not keep Gibson
Cricket SA appear resigned to the fact that keeping Ottis Gibson as Proteas coach after the World Cup in England may be out of their hands. The contract of Gibson‚ who is a firm target of the England side, comes to an end after the World Cup and there is no new deal in place. “We had a positive talk with Ottis‚ he is open to continuing but it is for the board to evaluate his performances and decide if they are happy with what he has achieved so far‚” CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe said.
SOCCER
Bafana face tough draw
The Confederation of African Football have yet to officially announce the pots for the Africa Cup of Nations draw in Cairo on April 12‚ but past history suggests that Bafana Bafana will be in the third-tier of countries‚ providing a difficult path to the next stage. The 24 qualified teams are divided into four pots‚ each containing six teams‚ who will be drawn into the six first-round groups. That means they will have two of the continent’s top sides in their pool.
ATHLETICS
Stroke suvivor Johnson spreads message of hope
US sprint champion Michael Johnson said he hoped to inspire fellow sufferers as he declared himself fully recovered from a stroke that paralysed him down one side last year. Johnson, 51, said he was now “back to normal” after the stroke in September which left the former 200m and 400m world-record holder unable to walk. He said the “Olympic mindset” that took him to four Games golds had aided his recovery, while his years of charity work helped put his plight in perspective.
MOTOR SPORT
F1 does announces long-term deal with Puma
Formula One has agreed a long-term deal with Puma for the German sportswear company to become the sport’s exclusive merchandise retail partner, it said on Thursday.
MMA
McGregor hints at retirement U-turn
Mixed martial arts star Conor McGregor hinted he may not be retiring after all on Wednesday after a racially-charged exchange of insults with rival Khabib Nurmagomedov. “All faiths challenge us to be our best selves. It is one world and one for all. Now see you in the Octagon,” he wrote on Twitter, apparently a response to criticism directed towards him after an earlier post in which he insulted Nurmagomedov’s wife and the couple’s Muslim faith. McGregor swiftly deleted the post made late Tuesday.
– AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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