Chase try assist has rugby league buzzing

Former St George Illawarra playmaker Rangi Chase has the rugby league world in raptures over his sensational try assist from the weekend.

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Three weeks into the season, there is only one talking point, Chase’s brilliant handling that created a try in Salford’s first win of the season.

Just 3,606 people were there to see it live but close to half a million have since watched the 2011 Man of Steel’s spectacular efforts against Hull on Saturday.

Chase was never able to make his mark in the NRL, playing 31 games across two seasons for the Dragons after making debuting for the Wests Tigers in 2006 – his only appearance for the club.

But Castleford fans were regularly thrilled by his crazy footwork and bewildering handling skills during his first five seasons in the Super League – and Chase reached new heights in a dazzling move on the weekend.

He came up with a trademark juggle before producing the piece de resistance, an outrageous one-handed Benji Marshall-style flick pass around his back to get Josh Griffin over for a sensational try.

Dual international Wendell Sailor drooled over it and urged his 75,000 Twitter followers to take a look while Salford’s own video has been watched by more than 55,000 people from Colombia to Japan.

“It’s just practice,” Chase said.

“It’s what I’ve done since a kid growing up, I’m always practising stuff like that. It comes natural, I suppose.

“People say no one knows what’s happening, well it’s the defence that doesn’t know what’s happening. I know what’s happening.

“It’s the sort of skill I practise over and over all the time in training and in my spare time so when the opportunity presents itself, I’m not afraid to do it.

“Josh was aware it was coming. He’s played with me before and I do it at training. He said to me after the game he knew it was coming.

“It’s good to put people over for tries, it’s what I try and do, it’s my job. I’d probably rather set them up than score.”

Chase will duel with exiled NRL star Todd Carney this Saturday, when Salford go to Catalans Dragons.

German football in spotlight after commission findings

For decades the country sought to investigate East Germany’s systematic doping before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 but there were indications doping was also present in West German sports.

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Those suggestions have now, in part, been substantiated, said the evaluation commission on Freiburg University’s doping past with evidence pointing to cycling and football.

The 60-page report itself has not been published yet but Monday’s two-page statement released by one of the commission members, and confirmed by the commission, was enough to cause a furore.

Bundesliga club VfB Stuttgart, who won the league in 1984, and Freiburg, in the second division at the time of the claims, said they had yet to see the report which goes back decades, making cross-referencing information difficult.

Germany’s cycling federation (BDR) was reserved in its reaction on Tuesday.

“For the last 10 years, the German cycling federation has positioned itself clearly in the fight against doping and through prevention and information contribute to a new generation that sees manipulation for what it is. Cheating,” BDR general secretary Martin Wolf said.

Germany’s sacred cow — the Bundesliga football league — has never seen such allegations with only a handful of positive doping tests in the past several decades.

All of these were quickly dismissed as the fault of individuals rather than a network of organised doping, keeping the league’s drugs-free image intact.

But it must now face the most serious allegations yet with Stuttgart and Freiburg players having allegedly used banned substances.

The German Football Association (DFB) said that although it had not been informed of the case, it wanted full transparency.

“There are grave allegations here that of course need to be completely and fully cleared up,” DFB Vice President Rainer Koch said on the DFB website.

“One has to admit that the anti-doping fight in those years was not being conducted seriously and at the DFB it was not dealt with as meticulously as one would have wished.

“Today German football is very consistent and strict in its fight against doping. Especially in the last 20 years a lot has changed and a lot has been done,” he said.

The Football League (DFL), contacted by Reuters, did not want to comment on the findings at this time.

At the heart of the issue is former Freiburg University’s sports trauma unit chief Armin Kluemper, who allegedly provided athletes with anabolic steroids.

Evaluation commission member Fritz Soergel said, especially for football, it was time to confront these allegations.

“The DFB has been confronted with this since yesterday,” Soergel told German ZDF television. “After these revelations… and because football is the people’s sport, the most popular sport, no stone should be left unturned.”

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

NBA strugglers Denver sack coach Shaw

Brian Shaw was fired as coach of the NBA’s Denver Nuggets on Tuesday after going 56-85 in a season and a half in the job.

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Melvin Hunt, in his fifth season as an assistant coach for the Nuggets, was named the club’s interim coach for the remainder of the season.

The Nuggets have lost six games in a row and fallen to 20-39, third-worst in the Western Conference and 12 1/2 games behind Oklahoma City for the final playoff spot in the West with 23 games remaining in the season.

“You won’t find a better guy than Brian and he is one of the brightest basketball minds I’ve ever been around,” said Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly.

“Unfortunately things didn’t go as we hoped, but we know with his basketball acumen that he has a very bright future.”

Shaw was hired to replace George Karl when he was fired in 2013 after guiding the Nuggets to nine consecutive playoff trips.

Never missing the playoffs from 2004 to 2013, the Nuggets lost in the first round nine times and reached the 2009 conference finals, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Nuggets went 36-46 last season, missing the playoffs in Shaw’s first campaign, and were struggling this year.

“Expectations have been raised and we want more,” Connelly said.

“This season our management staff has remained patient and supportive as decisions of this nature are never taken lightly.

“Patience is encouraged, as long as the organisation continues to show progress toward a greater goal.

“However, competing for championships is our goal, and therefore we decided to make this decision now and look forward to conducting an extensive head coaching search upon the season’s conclusion.”

UK officials may be accountable for abuse

Some 370 girls may have suffered sexual exploitation in one English county in the last 16 years.

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The damning indictment of failings by police and social workers in Oxfordshire echoed an investigation last year in northwest England, which produced a larger catalogue of abuse and failures by authorities to act on information that might have prevented abuse.

Though the serious case review published on Tuesday found no wilful professional misconduct by organisations, it cited a “worrying lack of curiosity and follow through.”

The release of the report came as Prime Minister David Cameron warned of sexual abuse on an “industrial scale” in Britain and accused people and organisations of “walking on by” when faced with abuse.

Cameron deemed sexual exploitation a “national threat,” on a par with organised crime, and said he was considering measures to make public officials accountable if they fail protect children from sexual exploitation.

The proposed measures were outlined at a meeting called by Cameron that brought police, healthcare experts and ministers together with victims.

An estimated 1400 children were sexually exploited in Rotherham, a northern England town. A report last year that cited “collective failures” by authorities between 1997 and 2013 shocked the country and led to calls for action.

Alan Bedford, author of the Oxfordshire report, said the review panel was “conscious that these numbers may seem low given the higher figures in Rotherham, but the work was carefully done and was debated and agreed by panel members.”

Nine men were charged in Oxfordshire and seven were convicted, with five drawing life sentences. Further investigations and trials continue.

“What happened to the child victims of the sexual exploitation in Oxfordshire was indescribably awful,” the review said.

“The child victims and their families feel very let down. Their accounts of how they perceived professional work are disturbing and chastening.”

Though the defendants were predominantly of Pakistani origin and the victims were white, the report said no evidence was seen of “any agency not acting when they should have done because of racial sensitivities.”

African leaders urge Ebola ‘Marshall Plan’

Leaders of the west African countries worst hit by Ebola have urged the world to back a Marshall Plan to help them stamp out the disease and rebuild their shattered economies.

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Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma and Guinean President Alpha Conde pressed the need for recovery at an international conference in Brussels as the number of new cases slows.

More than 9700 people have died of the disease since the west African epidemic emerged in southern Guinea in December 2013, with nearly 24,000 people infected, according to the World Health Organization.

“The impact of Ebola on our economies has been profound. The most important long-term response to Ebola therefore rests in plans and strategies for economic recovery,” Sirleaf told the EU-backed conference.

“There is no doubt this will require significant resources, even a Marshall Plan,” she said, referring to the US-led aid plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.

Conde also underlined the need for a Marshall Plan, telling a press conference that it was as if the region is “coming out of a war” with its economy and public services decimated.

The International Monetary Fund in Washington this week approved funding and debt relief worth about $US187 million ($A239.10 million) for Sierra Leone for coming years, with $US85 million of that to be disbursed immediately.

The charity Oxfam has previously made similar calls for a Marshall Plan-type effort to help stricken west Africa.

The countries at the centre of the Ebola epidemic are forecast to lose 12 per cent of their combined gross domestic product this year, according to World Bank estimates.

In addition, their health sectors have been partially wiped out by the epidemic or forced to divert resources to fighting Ebola at the expense of other diseases like measles, malaria and AIDS.