The Northern Territory news Wed 7 Oct 2015
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44 SPORT WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 7 2015 NTNE01Z01MA - V1 NBL - ROUND 1 Today: Adelaide 36ers v NZ Breakers (6.30pm) Tomorrow: Cairns Taipans v Illawarra Hawks (6pm) Friday: Townsville Crocodiles v Melbourne United (6pm) Saturday: Sydney Kings v Cairns Taipans (4pm), Adelaide 36ers v Perth Wildcats (6pm) Sunday: NZ Breakers v Townsville Crocodiles (10.30am), Melbourne United v Illawarra Hawks (1.30pm) IAIN PAYTEN HOPE for the best, plan for the worst. Thats the strategic planning the Wallabies hope will help them limit the damage of a possible suspension to star flanker Michael Hooper. Hooper (pictured) was cited late on Monday for allegedly charging into a ruck and cleaning out England fullback Mike Brown without his using his arms in the first half of Australias win at Twickenham. pended Hooper were not only in place, theyd be discussed many months ago. Thats the nature of playing a number of games in quick succession and thats why picking your squad is so important, Wallabies captain Stephen Moore said. I know when the selectors picked the squad they would have gone through every scenario, guys being injured, suspended, coming in and out of the squad. We had guys coming into the squad from France already. These are the type of things that you face. What the Wallaby selectors may not have foreseen, however, is the calibre of potential replacement for Hooper. Sean McMahon, who could be a straight call-up to No.7, has been in beast-like form both in limited game time and Wallabies training. Moore said he was confident in the 21year-old if he was needed. Every chance he (McMahon) has got to play for Australia, hes been outstand ing, Moore said. He was man of the match a couple of times. He is a quality player, and has shown that a couple of times for the Rebels and at training hes just been terrific. Hes been ripping in at training. Hes ready to go if needed. It was less than a week ago coach Michael Cheika was wondering how to fit McMahon into his team to play England. In the end he went for the bigger Ben McCalman, who is also in hot form and could play No.8, with David Pocock shifting to No.7. We have some quality in that part of the team, Moore said. Wallabies lock Rob Simmons said the squad was strong in backrow options. We have been building depth in the position, he said. Who steps up is not my issue either but Seanny McMahon stepped up well against Uruguay and so did Ben McCalman. All the back rowers are stepping up so theres not too much of an issue there. Red-faced hosts now accused of badgering officials RUGBY World Cup organisers have launched an investigation into claims England coaching staff approached the match officials at half-time in their shattering loss to the Wallabies. The probe follows a report that two England staff were allegedly involved in a robust exchange with the officials in the tunnel at Twickenham as the players left the field with England trailing 17-3 on Sunday. Approaching match officials in such circumstances is strictly outlawed and the mat ter threatens to further embarrass hosts England, already reeling after failing to qualify for the knockout stage. World Rugby is investigating an alleged breach by the England coaching team of the match-day communications protocol between match officials and team members or union officials, a World Rugby statement said. Its understood there is CCTV footage of the position in the tunnel where the alleged incident took place. They have been in contact with us wanting to speak to us, but I dont know what the process will be, said Englands assistant coach Andy Farrell, who refused to comment further. Englands scrum had conceded three first-half penalties as French referee Romain Poite came down hard on their loosehead prop Joe Marler for boring in at an angle. Farrell, whose son Owen Farrell was one of the few good performers for England, had to fight off questions about his role in Englands downfall at a media conference on Monday. Reports have spoken of players feeling that Farrell had too much influence in coach Stuart Lancasters team selection and were uneasy about rugby league convert Sam Burgess getting a place so soon. IRB WORLD CUP Tomorrow - Pool B: South Africa v USA in London (1.15am); Pool C: Namibia v Georgia in Exeter (4.30am) Saturday - Pool C: New Zealand v Tonga in Newcastle (4.30am) BASKETBALL is back how exciting is that? If I could find a more exciting word for excitement Id probably use it, says Larry Kestelman, in whose wealthy hands the future of the sport now rests. If that sounds a little like a kid opening a new toy for Christmas, then the feeling is widely shared because everybody involved with the sport especially the players are hanging out to discover what their ambitious, hastily assembled and well-funded new world will look like. On the back of an up-market launch at Melbournes Crown casino on Monday night the hoops has never been exposed to so much glitz and glamour the eight-team National Basketball League season starts tonight when Adelaide host New Zealand, with six more games scheduled through to Sunday. With cricket and soccer also starting their elite-level seasons this week, the battle for the attention of sports fans through summer is up and running. Kestelman is convinced basketball his passion can give the two much bigger organisations a run for their money and has put his money where his mouth is. The 49-year-old Melbourne business entrepreneur has invested $6 million to take control of the NBL, of which he is now the hands-on executive director as well as part-owner of the only Victorian team, Melbourne United, the new version of the Tigers. After his late night at the launch, Kestelman was at training yesterday morning to watch new coach Dean Demopoulos put the finishing touches to Uniteds preparation for their opener against the Crocs in Townsville on Friday night, and then the Illawarra Hawks at Hisense Arena on Sunday afternoon the first of six consecutive home games. Having taken control in late June, his dream has been only about 100 days in the making, a completely unrealistic, crazy ride, he told the launch guests but he has got a lot done and the signs are good. He has acquired three big sponsors, rescued the Hawks and the Crocs from the financial brink, arranged for a Brisbane team to rejoin next year and, most importantly, teed up extensive TV exposure with Fox Sports covering every game live and, in his latest coup this week, Channel 9 putting Sunday afternoon games on free to air. Its been three months but it feels like there has been three years of work done and the list still to do is enormous, he said. We are 100 per cent committed to a mission and Hoops shooting for revival will not stop until it is achieved. That will be when, exactly? When stadiums are 100 per cent full and we have huge audiences on TV. That will take a little time. We want it to be the hottest ticket in town. Most sports fans are well aware basketball was big and seemed here to stay back in the 70s and 80s, but then lost its way. It has attempted makeovers in the intervening years without quite finding its way back to the mainstream, despite huge popularity with kids. Kestelmans corporate know-how, Im more of a business nut than a basketball nut, he says, and love of a challenge gives this revival project more chance, especially with Fox certain to add much more promotional clout than any other TV partnership provided. He would have been encouraged by the good vibes generated when two Victorians, Andrew Bogut and Matthew Dellavedova, featured in the American NBA finals, with the two national teams, the Boomers and the Opals, then making a rare visit and pulling more than 15,000 fans to a packed Rod Laver Arena. That confirmed the game is still popular. The secret, says Kestelman, will be engaging with the fans like never before and giving them what they or lovers of any sport want, which is entertainment. Its a simple enough concept and at its best basketball is certainly capable of providing it. The time has come to prove it. RON REED New Zealand Breakers player Cedric Johnson displays the NBL Championship trophy to the Auckland crowd after downing the Cairns Taipans in the grand final series last season Picture: BRENDAN RADKE Wallabies look at plan B if Hooper is pinged over England game All match of ficials were happy with a penalty but Kiwi citing commissioner Steve Hind determined it was worthy of a red card, and so Hooper faced a judicial hearing at 8pm on Tuesday. The entry point for a possible ban is two weeks and can go much higher. Though the Wallabies were hopeful of a positive outcome, plans for replacing a sus Andy Farrell fronts the media after Englands loss the Wallabies