Lions add quartet for New Zealand tour

Four Wales players have been called into the British and Irish Lions squad for the remainder of the tour of New Zealand, with more announcements to follow.

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Lock Cory Hill, hooker Kristian Dacey, scrumhalf Gareth Davies and prop Tomas Francis, who were in New Zealand on national team duty, will join up with the Lions in Rotorua ahead of the their tour match against the Maori All Blacks later on Saturday.

Wales were in action in Auckland on Friday, beating Tonga 24-7, and Lions coach Warren Gatland said it made sense to bring in players who would not need time to acclimatise.

“We have said all along that we need to give ourselves the best chance of winning the Test series and that could potentially involve calling up players,” he said in a statement.

“Bringing in these players from an identical time zone, who can hit the ground running and step straight in rather than having to adjust following long-haul travel, will help us manage players before the first test, give us quality training numbers to prepare properly as well as offering us options for selection for the Chiefs match.”

Gatland said other players would be added to the squad once the four home unions had completed their weekend tests.

Scotland play Australia in Sydney and Ireland face Japan later on Saturday. England are on tour in Argentina.

With the additions, Gatland will now be able to run two separate teams, with the new players likely to feature in the ‘midweek’ squad against the Waikato Chiefs on Tuesday and Wellington Hurricanes the following week.

Gatland had said previously that he did not want to split the squad because it had caused resentment in previous tours.

The Lions side that takes on the Maori All Blacks is likely to run out for the first test on June 24.

Gatland’s call for reinforcements was followed within hours by Ross Moriarty being ruled out of the tour.

The Welsh loose forward is suffering from nerve damage and had been restricted to just one appearance, the 13-7 victory over the Provincial Barbarians.

“We are really disappointed for Ross,” Gatland said in a statement. “He has had a hugely impressive season, capped off with selection for the British & Irish Lions and his performance in the first match justified that selection.

“It is disappointing to see injury cut short his tour but we wish him all the best with his recovery.”

Reuters

Killed policeman recognised in UK honours

The policeman killed after confronting the Westminster attacker outside Britain’s parliament and the heroic passer-by stabbed trying to protect MP Jo Cox have been awarded medals for their bravery.

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Their recognition comes as comedian Billy Connolly was given a knighthood and actress Julie Walters was made a dame in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Oscar-winner Olivia de Havilland, who turns 101 next month, is the oldest woman to become a dame in this centenary year of the modern-day honours system.

Those honoured from the world of entertainment include chart-topper Ed Sheeran and comedian David Walliams, with the honours committee describing the list as the most diverse yet.

In a break with tradition, the Queen’s Civilian Gallantry List has been released at the same time as the monarch’s birthday honours.

Police Constable Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death by attacker Khalid Masood in March on the forecourt of the Palace of Westminster, is posthumously awarded the George Medal for confronting an armed terrorist to protect others and parliament.

Briton Dominic Troulan, an ex-soldier who was working as a civilian in Kenya when terrorists attacked a shopping mall in 2013, is awarded the George Cross for saving lives during the massacre.

Bernard Kenny, who was stabbed in the abdomen as he tried to stop neo-Nazi Thomas Mair attacking Mrs Cox outside her constituency surgery in Yorkshire, receives the George Medal one year on from the murder.

More than 1000 people have been recognised in the separate Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which is led by Dame Julie, Dame Olivia, and the renowned Glaswegian comic who said he is not sure if he will now become Sir William, rather than Billy.

The stand-up, affectionately known as the Big Yin and famed for his often irreverent routines, is knighted at the age of 74 in recognition of his services to entertainment and charity.

Twenty years after he was knighted by the Queen, Sir Paul McCartney is upgraded with a Companion of Honour for services to music, alongside JK Rowling.

The author, who is also marking two decades since the publication of the first book in her best-selling Harry Potter series, is honoured for services to literature and philanthropy.

Lions will be a different beast for NZ

Coach Steve Hansen has ruled out any danger of the All Blacks getting ahead of themselves after a dominant dress rehearsal to their three-Test rugby series against the British and Irish Lions.

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In their first hit-out of the season, New Zealand produced a 78-0 shutout of Samoa, running in 12 tries at Eden Park on Friday night.

However, Hansen’s assessment is that it was good “but it wasn’t that good” and the Lions will be a different proposition when the series opens at the same venue next weekend.

“We won’t get ahead of ourselves – the beast we’re going to get come Saturday is going to be totally different,” Hansen said.

“They’ll look to really target all our time and space with their line speed and they’ll look to dominate us up front.

“Unless we get those parts of our game right, then we’ll struggle.”

One of the features of the win over Samoa was the way All Blacks midfielders Sonny Bill Williams and Anton Lienert-Brown gelled, despite being a new combination.

With Ryan Crotty set to return from a rib injury, Hansen admits it will be tough picking between “three quality players”.

But he also indicated all three would get game time, in the same way the All Blacks started with Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith, and had Williams come off the bench, at the business end of the the 2015 World Cup.

“We used the one-two-three punch in the World Cup because we had three really good midfielders,” Hansen said.

“I’m picking that all three of them will probably be involved at some stage in the game.

“Which order we do it in, we will just have to wait and see.”

The All Blacks coaches will be in the stands in Rotorua to watch the Maori All Blacks host the Lions on Saturday night.

Whether that match turns out to be a free-flowing affair or a dour contest, Hansen is picking that it will be instructive for giving insights into how the Lions will approach the opening Test.

“Either way, we will learn a lot about what they will be bringing next week,” he said.

With Samoa behind them, there’s no doubt excitement is building within the All Blacks camp ahead of their first encounter with the Lions in 12 years.

“Everybody has been waiting for this moment, haven’t they?” Hansen said.

“It’s like you’ve been given chocolates, and you’ve unwrapped them and you’re allowed to eat them.

“That’s the best part isn’t it?”

Gonski 2.0: Labor lashes potential government-Greens school funding deal

Labor has lashed out at the prospect of the Turnbull government sealing a deal with the Greens on schools funding reforms, despite the fact it could result in fast-tracked spending and significantly more cash.

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Extra schools funding promised by the Turnbull government could be rolled out four years faster than planned and a new independent watchdog put in place, under a deal with the Greens to pass Gonski 2.0.

“It’d be very disappointing indeed to see a secret deal between the Greens and the government on schools funding,” opposition education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said in Sydney on Saturday.

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Ms Plibersek said the coalition’s proposed scheme was based on “fantasy figures” and 85 per cent of public schools wouldn’t reach fair funding levels after a decade.

“It’d be very disappointing to see the Greens fall for that one,” she said.

Laws to bring in a needs-based funding model, proposed by consultant David Gonski, are to be debated in the Senate on Wednesday, days before the parliament rises for the winter break.

With the government 10 votes short of a majority in the upper house, and Labor opposed to the package, the coalition will need the nine Greens and one other crossbench senator.

A confidential offer from the government proposes cutting the time frame to get to the target funding level from 10 years to six and a national schools resourcing body, Fairfax Media reports.

It was reported the deal could boost the proposed $18.6 billion in funding to as much as $24 billion.

In their negotiations the Greens have been seeking a shorter time frame, extra funding for public schools and the national watchdog which would monitor funding and spending and review the new benchmark “schooling resource standard”.

But there has been some pushback from NSW Greens and unions, who say the Turnbull government’s Gonski 2.0 does not properly align with Mr Gonski’s original design and does not contain enough money for public schools.

While not confirming where the talks were at, Greens leader Richard Di Natale said the government’s original proposal was not good enough in a number of key areas and changes were needed.

“We’re speaking with key stakeholders and our party room will then make a decision,” he told AAP.

“We remain committed to delivering an outcome for Australian kids in line with David Gonski’s original vision for a truly needs-based funding model.”

Swans stun Tigers with comeback AFL win

Sydney’s AFL season is alive and kicking, with the Swans breaking Richmond’s hearts with a stunning come-from-behind nine-point win at the MCG.

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The Swans kicked eight of the last nine goals of Saturday’s engrossing contest to claim the 12.8 (80) to 10.11 (71) win in front of 58,721 fans.

But it could come at a cost after Lance Franklin went into the umpire’s book in the second quarter for a front-on bump on Connor Menadue that collected him high.

Fans were given the Alex Rance-Franklin match-up they’d wanted and Rance took the points, keeping his opponent to one goal.

The pair were at each other all day in an often spiteful, always enthralling, one-on-one battle.

The Tigers led from the early minutes but Kieren Jack put his side in front with a brilliant goal in heavy traffic with just under six minutes to go in the final term.

A pulsating last quarter went up another notch as Richmond tried to claw back the lead but Gary Rohan sealed the memorable win with a goal with eight seconds left.

Sydney have now won five of their past six matches to move to 12th on the ladder, one game outside the eight, after starting the season with six losses.

“We know we haven’t got much wiggle room,” John Longmire said of his team’s rekindled finals hopes.

“That’s pretty clear, we know that. The players know it, the coaches know it and we know we have to bring our maximum effort every week from now on.

“To our credit, after not bringing it in the first half, we were able to turn that around.

“It should give the players some real confidence to be able to do that during the course of a game.”

The Tigers were looking to tighten their grip on a top-four spot but instead suffered their fourth loss this season by nine points or less.

Richmond kicked the first six goals of the game and led by 36 points in the second quarter before Sydney mounted their fightback.

Longmire’s men couldn’t match the Tigers’ blistering pace early but got back into the game via their improved contested work.

The margin was 25 points at halftime and shrank to 13 at the last break, setting up the breathtaking finale.

“We just weren’t good enough for long enough and they came over the top,” Richmond coach Damien Hardwick said.

“(We) had a really strong focus on controlling their scores from stoppages, which is a strength of their’s, and they kicked four (goals) in the last quarter.

“We just couldn’t get that part right, which is pretty disappointing because we did it pretty well for three quarters.

“They lifted their work rate in and around the contest and we just weren’t able to match it.”