Rio delays frustrate Kiwi rowers ahead of Olympics

The New Zealand rowing team in Rio is the largest they've sent to an Olympics and they were some of the first to arrive in Brazil.

Unlike in the past, the full team is staying in the village but that's already having a negative impact on their buildup.

"The worst case we've had up to two hours on a bus so that's the worst trip," Mahe Drysdale said of their ride from the village to the Olympic venue.

While it is getting better it's still taking much longer that it should to cover the 30 kilometres from the village to Lagoa Stadium where the Olympic rowing is being held, Rio's traffic slowing down even accredited transport.

At Karapiro, a trip to the lake is just down the road.

Perhaps fortuitously, Rowing New Zealand has hired a day house in Rio just five minutes from the venue.

"It's actually used as a yoga retreat I think and there's a duck and ducklings which I really appreciate and there was a monkey watching us eat lunch the other day so it's a cool place to get a bit of healthy distraction," said Zoe Stevenson of the women's double sculls.

It also means that instead of four trips a day between the village and training, there's only two, which can make all the difference when you're trying to beat your competitors by the smallest of margins.

"We have an advantage over a lot of other countries. Personally in my field all my main competitors are staying in the village so I feel like we have an advantage over them," said Emma Twigg.

Mahe Drysdale says it sometimes takes two hours to travel 30 kilometres on the team bus.


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Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita headline strong Mate Ma'a Tonga squad for Kangaroos Test

Mate Ma’a Tonga’s head coach Kristian Woolf has named a strong 29-man squad to take on the Kangaroos in a historic Test match in Auckland next month.

NRL powerhouses Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita headline a squad full of talent and stars.

The New Zealand Warriors have four players in the squad - wing David Fusitu’a, centre Solomone Kata and forwards Agnatius Paasi and Leviaha Pulu.

"We are very pleased with the depth in the squad we have managed to name for this very important Test match," said Woolf.

"We feel it is representative of the depth of Tongan rugby league in both the NRL and English Super League and also rewards players that have made firm commitments to playing for their country of heritage.

"This will be a huge occasion for Tonga to take on the top-ranked rugby league country in the world, so we need every player we can committed to the goal."

The Test will be played at Mount Smart Stadium on October 20.

Mate Ma'a Tonga squad:

Andrew Fifita (Cronulla Sharks), Addin Fonua-Blake (Manly Sea Eagles), Mahe Fonua (Wests Tigers), Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans), David Fusitu’a (NZ Warriors), Siliva Havili (Canberra Raiders), Ata Hingano (Canberra Raiders), Will Hopoate (Canterbury Bulldogs), Konrad Hurrell (Gold Coast Titans), Michael Jennings (Parramatta Eels), Robert Jennings (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Solomone Kata (NZ Warriors), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Samisoni Langi (Catalans Dragons), Tuimoala Lolohea (Wests Tigers), Sika Manu (Hull FC), Sam Moa (Catalans Dragons), Ben Murdoch-Masilla (Warrington Wolves), Joe Ofahengaue (Brisbane Broncos), Tevita Pangai Junior (Brisbane Broncos), Agnatius Paasi (NZ Warriors), Leviaha Pulu (NZ Warriors), Scott Sorenson (Cronulla Sharks), Ukuma Ta’ai (Huddersfield Giants), Jason Taumalolo (North Queensland Cowboys), Tevita Tatola (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Sio Siua Taukeiaho (Sydney Roosters), Peni Terepo (Parramatta Eels), Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters).

Jason Taumalolo leads the Tongan haka.
England v Tonga, Semi-Final, Rugby League World Cup 2017. RLWC2017. Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland New Zealand. Saturday 25 November 2017 © Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
Jason Taumalolo has committed to Mate Ma'a Tonga. Source: Photosport


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Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup tickets to go on sale, All Blacks fans urged to get in quick

All Blacks fans are urged to get in quick if they are to secure seats at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, with officials warning tickets will sell out fast one year out from the tournament.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. New Zealand All Blacks v Australia Wallabies, Twickenham Stadium, London, England. Saturday 31 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. Source: Photosport

Half a million tickets have already been pre-sold with tickets set to be open for sale to the public at 1pm today (NZ time).

Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin believes there will be an "unprecedented demand" for tickets which involves the home team, Japan's Brave Blossoms and the top tier nations.

"All the matches involving Japan, definitely all the matches involving New Zealand... England, Australia are experiencing high demand and we would expect they will be sold out very quickly," said Gilpin.

The All Blacks begin their title defence against the Springboks in Yokohama, the evening after the tournament opener between Japan and Russia in Tokyo on September 20, 2019.

Adult ticket prices are expected to range from ¥10,000 - ¥40,000 (NZD $136-$544) while tickets to the final on November 2 to cost anywhere between ¥25,000 - ¥100,000 (NZD $340-$1361).

"When you bring Rugby World Cup to a place like Japan, you hope that people will get behind it and the demand will be there – and it really has been," said Gilpin.

"It's a fantastic story for the event and a good message of confidence for the organising committee."

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'They will be pumped to get one on their coach' - Warriors women to face Broncos mentor

If Brisbane star Teuila Fotu-Moala comes off second best with the Warriors' Onjeurlina Leiataua in Friday's NRL Women's Premiership clash, she will only have herself to blame.

Feared Kiwi Ferns back-rower Fotu-Moala has revealed she used to be the coach of her Warriors rival at hometown Auckland club Otahuhu Leopards, helping her cut her teeth in the sport.

In fact the bulk of the Warriors squad played under Fotu-Moala at the Leopards.

Now they line up against their mentor in the NRL Women's Premiership last round, with a grand final spot on the line for Brisbane.

"I have actually coached her (Leiataua) at club level. The bulk of those (Warriors) girls I have coached at clubland so I know how they play," Fotu-Moala said.

"When it comes to next level footy I don't know what they are like, but I am sure they will be pumped to get one on their coach."

Fotu-Moala has plenty of close friends at the Warriors after forging strong friendships with her Leopards charges.

But she had no problem using her inside knowledge against her ex-pupils, as the Broncos eye off a spot in the inaugural grand final.

Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack. Kiwi Ferns v England, Women’s Rugby League World Cup Semi Final at Southern Cross Group Stadium, Sydney, Australia on 26 November 2017. Copyright Image: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Teuila Fotu-Moala on attack for the Kiwi Ferns against England. Source: Photosport

Brisbane are the competition's only unbeaten team, and can guarantee a grand final appearance with a third straight victory in Melbourne on Friday.

"I know from what I have learnt from my coaching what gets in her head," Fotu- Moala said of Leiataua.

"Whatever I know I will use it on the field."

Fotu-Moala is on a collision course with explosive Warriors back-rower Leiataua at AAMI Park, with Kiwi Ferns jumpers also on the line ahead of October's Auckland Test against the Jillaroos.

"I am pretty excited to come up against some of my best friends," Fotu-Moala said of the Warriors (1-1 record).

Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack. Roosters v Warriors, NRL Holden Women's Premiership.  ANZ Stadium, Sydney, Australia. 8th Sept 2018. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz
Warriors women player Onjeurlina Leiataua on attack against the Sydney Roosters. Source: Photosport


'It's a pretty normal thing' - humble Kiwi cyclist George Bennett on viral water bottle gift moment

Kiwi cyclist George Bennett says his kind gesture for a young adoring fan, where he handed the cheering supporter his water bottle, is nothing new.

Bennett became a viral sensation despite finishing outside the top 10 at the Vuelta a Espana, when he took the time on the final stage to make one young fan's day.

After receiving applause from a young supporter, Bennett decided to give him an unexpected reward for his enthusiastic cheers during one of the event's climbs – his water bottle.

"This kid was still screaming full gas like I could win the race but I was 15 minutes behind at that stage," Bennett told Stuff.

"I've thrown a thousand bottles to kids in my career and I'll probably throw a thousand more."

The moment was caught on video and shared by the boy's family online.

The gesture has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times with many heaping praise on Bennett for the gesture.

"This one just got caught on video and there's just something about how enthusiastic the kid was," he said.

"But it's a pretty normal thing at the end of a bike race; there's thousands of kids screaming for your bottle when you're riding to the finish.

"It's quite a cool thing because the fans are so connected to the riders, they're so close and for us it's a bottle, we go through 15-20 a day, but for them it's something pretty cool and hopefully it gets them into cycling."

Bennett may have had a disappointing finish in the Tour of Spain but he made sure he made someone else’s day. Source: 1 NEWS


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