The Northern Territory news Mon 4 Feb 2019
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News Corp Australia
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News Corp Australia
32 SPORT MONDAY FEBRUARY 4 2019 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 GREG DAVIS WAYNE Bennett has no intention of releasing Alex Johnston to move to North Queensland in the wake of Ben Barbas sacking. There has been speculation for months that Johnston is disillusioned at South Sydney following the decision to move Greg Inglis to fullback in 2019. But the NT News understands Bennett is privately filthy that Johnstons name has been thrown up as Barbas potential replacement. It follows reports late last year that Johnston was not wanted by Bennett and could be on the move to Cronulla. Bennett has maintained throughout that he wants Johnston at the club and there is every chance the 24-yearold will start the season wearing the No.1 jumper. With Inglis struggling with a recurrence of a knee injury, the superstar skipper has been unable to run in recent weeks and he is no certainty to be ready for the season kick off. While Souths also have young gun Corey Allan as a back-up fullback option, Bennett is reluctant to rush the 20year-olds development. Bennett also believes there is still a lot of development left in Johnston. South Sydney football boss Shane Richardson said he was not aware of any interest com BRONCOS halfback Kodi Nikorima was part of a spectacular Super Bowl promotion for sports streaming service Kayo on Sydney Harbour yesterday. And he believes the intense competition for places in Brisbanes first-choice 17 will drive the Broncos towards the NRLs own season showpiece in 2019. Under siege at different times in 2018 when his grip on the No. 7 jersey at Red Hill was questioned, Nikorima is confident he can be a central figure in the premiership push. I feel like a different player now. Last year was my first full year playing in the halves at the Broncos and I take a lot of confidence out of that, Nikorima told News Corp. I learned a lot off Shaun (Johnson) and Madge (Michael Maguire) with the Kiwis too and I feel like Ive matured. Im looking forward to showing that from Round 1. Weve got a pretty strong squad with young guys that have had a taste of NRL now. There is a lot of competition for a lot of spots, so everyone is pushing each other. Weve only lost a couple of players from last year and those young guys coming through want to stamp their authority. Nikorima met new Broncos coach Anthony Seibold after he returned from the New Zealand tour of the UK at the end of last year and reported back to Brisbane pre-season training last month. He is relishing Seibolds approach. Seibs brings a new system with him and I cant fault it. I spoke to him after the tour and he told me to enjoy my break and refresh my mind and body and come back really wanting to get into it, Nikorima said. Hes been really good for all the halves and Macca (Andrew McCullough) and Darbs (Darius Boyd). Leaky Scots triumph over Italians SCOTLAND captain Greig Laidlaw has warned his players they will need to cut out the poor defending that cost them three late tries in their 33-20 opening-day home win against Italy if they are to have any hope of defeating Six Nations champs Ireland this weekend. The Scots ran in five tries, including a hat-trick from wing Blair Kinghorn and one each from fullback Stuart Hogg and replacement centre Chris Harris, to lead 33-3 before leaking 17 points in the final 10 after replacement prop Simon Berghan was sin binned. We dropped off a little bit in terms of defence towards the end of the game when we allowed them to attack, said Laidlaw, who converted three at Murrayfield. Well need to tighten that up looking ahead to next weeks game. Scotland will again have home advantage when it welcomes Ireland to Murrayfield on February 9. Eagles soar in Americas rugby opener A.J. MACGINTYS hat-trick led 11 tries for the US as the defending champion Eagles routed host Chile 71-8 to kick off the Americas Rugby Championship. A World Cup-bound US side overwhelmed Los Condores in launching a bid for its third consecutive crown in the North and South America version of Europes Six Nations tournament. A 14-man Uruguayan side edged Canada 20-17 on a lastplay try at Montevideo and Argentinas second-tier side ripped visiting Brazil 54-3 in later opening-day matches. US hooker Joe Taufetees 15th career try in the early moments matched retired Irish legend Keith Woods world record for most career test tries by a front-row forward. Wood set the mark in a nine-year career from 1994-2003, while Taufetee earned his first cap for the US in 2015. Rabbits no help in Barba vacuum ing from the Cowboys but said Bennett would ultimately make the call. My understanding is Alex is comfortable where he is so nothing has changed, Richardson said. That being the case, there appears little chance of the Cowboys roping in Johnston to cover the loss of Barba. While it makes little sense for the Rabbitohs to release Johnston, especially with Inglis underdone, there is no doubt there is a concern the talk could potentially distract Johnston given his desire to play the custodian role. Johnston has made no secret of the fact he wants to be paid fullback money and a move to Townsville would result in an immediate pay hike. The speculation also highlights a bigger issue that still confronts the game with respect to the lack of loyalty and ease of breaking an NRL contract. Plenty of fans grew angry and disillusioned last year with the constant player and coaching movement and many believe it is high time the NRL addressed the issue to bring some loyalty back into the game. It has been mooted releasing Johnston would free up the Rabbitohs to retain Robert Jennings, who is said to be waiting on a move to the Wests Tigers. PAUL CRAWLEY Nikorima happy to fight for his place England fires but not on all cylinders: Jones ENGLAND is improving but is nowhere near its best, coach Eddie Jones said after the English put last years disappointing Six Nations behind them with a thumping 32-20 victory over holders Ireland. Without a victory in Dub lin for six years, England secured what before kick-off seemed to be the unlikeliest of bonus-point wins with two tries from Henry Slade (pictured) and one each to Jonny May and Elliot Daly. Were a team thats still growing, were nowhere near our best, Jones told a news conference, where he nevertheless delighted in the intensity his side showed. Some games are immensely physical, some are more tactical and we went in there and probably shaded them a little bit in that area. We know theyre a top team but I thought our intensity, particularly in the first part, was outstanding. The Australian coach singled out captain Owen Farrell for praise, alongside try scorers Slade and May, but was most pleased with his front five one of whom, Maro Itoje, had departed the game with a medial ligament injury in his knee, he said. Maros probably got some sort of medial ligament but like all these things you never know until they get an MRI, Jones said. Kodi Nikorima is taking nothing for granted ahead of season 2019 Picture: AAP IMAGE