SPORTS DAY: Not a lot left in the kitty for brittle Lions

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SPORTS DAY: Not a lot left in the kitty for brittle Lions

Your roundup of the sporting news of the day

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RUGBY
Weakened Lions face Sharks
The Lions will go into their crunch Super Rugby clash against the Sharks in Durban with a brittle spine. Apart from the anticipated absence of regular captain Warren Whiteley due to bone bruising‚ the Lions will also be without talismanic hooker Malcolm Marx and the calming influence of scrumhalf Ross Cronjé. The captaincy now falls to loose forward Kwagga Smith who will again wear the No 8 jersey in Whiteley’s absence.
Sharks skipper unfazed by log pressure
Sharks captain Louis Schreuder is not worried about log pressure even though they have a quartet of must-win matches. “We haven’t even spoken about pressure. We know what the log looks like,” he said. “Anyone can still go up or down and anything can still happen. This is our important game and anything can still happen but we need to focus on this game that we need to win‚” Schreuder said.
Stormers make one change
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was able to pick an almost unchanged side for this weekend’s must-win clash against the Highlanders at Newlands. After his side took the Crusaders to the wire in a thrilling and brutal 19-19 draw last week‚ hooker Bongi Mbonambi is the only casualty from the match and misses out.
 
Bulls worried by player exodus
Blue Bulls Company chief executive Alfons Meyer admits they are worried about the departure of several high-profile players after the World Cup later this year. Springboks Handré Pollard‚ Lood de Jager‚ Jesse Kriel and Jason Jenkins recently announced that they are not returning to Loftus after the World Cup, continuing their careers in Europe and Japan. Meyer said, however, they were trying to retain RG Snyman and Trevor Nyakane.
SOCCER
Banyana and Bafana get incentives
The women’s national team players could earn the biggest paydays of their careers at the World Cup in France, standing to make almost R1m each if they lift the trophy.  SA Football Association president Danny Jordaan announced on Thursday that the Banyana Banyana players and their Bafana Bafana counterparts would for the first time earn the same amounts when they participate in the Fifa Women’s World Cup and in the Africa Cup of Nations respectively. They will get R320‚000 each if they reach the last 16, R520‚000 for making the quarterfinals‚ R670‚000 for the semifinals and R920‚000 a head for winning their respective tournaments.
Stink failed to halt Maritzburg
Maritzburg United coach Eric Tinkler says his players changed in the team bus instead of the dressing room ahead of yesterday’s clash against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in Thohoyandou because of some “product” that smelled “horrible” and made his players itch. “There seems to have been something in there; whether it was [put there] on purpose or not‚ I can’t say‚” he said after his team won 2-0. A TTM official denied the claim.
ATHLETICS
 
Track star criticises Nike maternity policy
Olympic track and field star Allyson Felix joined a chorus of recent criticism against Nike, accusing the US sporting goods giant of penalising female athletes who took time off to have a child. Felix, the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals, wrote in the New York Times she had been offered a vastly reduced contract by Nike since taking time off in 2018 during her pregnancy. “If we have children, we risk pay cuts from our sponsors during pregnancy and afterward,” wrote Felix, saying Nike had offered her a new deal worth 70% less than before.
MOUNTAINEERING
Two die in Everest ‘traffic jam’
A huge queue of climbers has formed near the summit of Mount Everest as expedition organisers on Thursday reported two more deaths on the world’s highest mountain. More than 200 climbers were taking advantage of clear weather on Wednesday to attempt to summit from both Nepal and China. A US and Indian climber are the latest fatalities, their expedition organisers said, on one of the busiest days yet on the 8,848m peak.
TENNIS
 
Uncertainty over Serena fitness
Serena Williams heads into this year’s French Open as an outsider for a Grand Slam title for possibly the first time in 20 years, with questions surrounding her fitness after a poor start to the season. She impressed initially on returning after giving birth, but lost in the Wimbledon final before her infamous meltdown en route to another final defeat at Flushing Meadows. Injuries have seen Williams play just four matches this year since her Australian Open quarterfinal exit.
– AFP, Reuters, TimesLIVE

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