Friday 30 September 2011

Johnson Says England Battle Ready

England manager Martin Johnson says his side will go all out for victory in their crucial Pool B World Cup showdown with Scotland on Saturday.

England will still qualify if they earn a losing bonus point, with Scotland needing a winning margin of eight or more to have any chance of progression.

But Johnson says his side will approach the game with a "knock out" mentality.

And Scotland counterpart Andy Robinson has called on his players to "use every emotion" to beat England.

With World Cup progression at stake, Johnson admits there has been an added intensity to the build-up ahead of the game at Eden Park.

"There is lots of chat of getting bonus points but we want to win the Test match as we always do," said Johnson. "That doesn't change.

"We are playing knock-out rugby. This is where we want to be - playing a big pool game, wanting to win it to win the pool."

"There has been a definite edge about it.

"It is a big game, they've picked a team full of power with some very direct carriers so it is going to be a big battle in midfield in terms of getting over the gain line."

The build-up to the game has been slightly overshadowed by the suspension of two England coaches for the World Cup game against Scotland on Saturday.

Kicking coach Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon were found to have switched the ball Jonny Wilkinson was due to kick with during England's 67-3 win over Romania without asking the permission of referee Romain Poite.

Johnson spoke of his regret over the incident and when asked whether the situation had been an embarrassment for England, he said: "Paul and David did what they did in the heat and confusion of a Test.

"We should have asked the referee [if they could switch balls], we didn't. They asked us to stop, we did.

"I don't suspend guys lightly. We regret what we did and it was wrong.

"In the heat of a World Cup match these guys have made a mistake and they have paid for it."

Johnson regrets ball-switching debacle

Meanwhile, Scotland full-back Chris Paterson says he is unconcerned about the World Cup match balls following the furore with Alred and Stridgeon.

Windy conditions have caused difficulties for kickers so far, but Paterson has no complaints with the match balls which have caused such controversy.

"We've trained with the balls since June or July and we get on and train with it," said Paterson.

"As long as they stay on the tee I'm trying my best, to be honest."

Scotland head coach Robinson preferred to focus on his side, rather than comment on the situation in the opposition camp.

Robinson, England head coach from September 2004 to November 2006, said: "We've got to take care of what we're about.

"It's a hard enough job for us worrying about what, as opposed to worrying about the opposition and what they're up to. It's about us.

"I really hope it's another cracking test match. For us, it's about finding the answers to breaking down this England team and if we do that, we have the players to finish off."

England team: B Foden; C Ashton, M Tuilagi, M Tindall, D Armitage; J Wilkinson, B Youngs; M Stevens, S Thompson, D Cole, L Deacon, C Lawes, T Croft, L Moody (capt), J Haskell.

Replacements: D Hartley, A Corbisiero, T Palmer, N Easter, R Wigglesworth, T Flood, M Banahan.

Scotland team: C Paterson; M Evans, J Ansbro, S Lamont, S Danielli; R Jackson, M Blair; A Jacobsen, R Ford, E Murray, R Gray, A Kellock (capt), A Strokosch , J Barclay, R Vernon.

Replacements: S Lawson, A Dickinson, N Hines, R Rennie, C Cusiter, D Parks, N De Luca.

If Scotland lose to England without a losing bonus point they are out of the World Cup
If Scotland lose to England with a losing bonus point and Argentina lose against Georgia, Scotland go through
If Scotland draw with England, they need Argentina to lose against Georgia
If Scotland and Argentina both win without a bonus point, it will come down to points difference between the three teams, though England are way out in front
If Scotland and Argentina win with bonus points, and England do not earn a losing bonus point, England are out

Hatton Reveals Battle with Depression

Ricky Hatton says depression almost drove him to suicide after he was knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in 2009.

In an exclusive interview on BBC Radio 5 live, Hatton explained how his life spiralled out of control in a battle with drink and drugs.

Hatton confirmed his retirement in July and now runs a successful promoting business.

But he said: "I was so down, I was crying and breaking out and contemplating suicide."

Hatton lost to Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in May 2009 with a brutal second-round knockout.

He said: "I was going deeper and deeper into depression.

"I was getting depressed. I was going out and having a few drinks. The worst thing you can do with depression is add alcohol to it.

"I needed something to get my backside into gear and pull my finger out. Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to think, 'Blimey Ricky, get a grip'.

"Depression is a serious thing and, after my defeat to Manny Pacquiao, I contemplated retirement and didn't cope with it very well."

The former boxer's predicament was exposed in a newspaper sting where he was shown taking cocaine.

Hatton added: "For someone in my position taking drugs once is nothing short of disgraceful.

"The reason behind my actions and the way I was behaving wasn't a drink or drugs thing, it was depression. I was so down, I was crying and breaking out and contemplating suicide.

"Half the things I was doing I didn't even read about in the paper. I can't even remember the night it happened - that's what depression does to you.

"I was having blackouts, days on end whether I was drinking or not when I couldn't remember what had happened in my life.

"I thank the News of the World because who knows where it could have ended up.

"A lot of people say, 'I've tried committing suicide' - but there's saying it and doing it and it was coming on a regular basis.

"Being a proud man and a warrior, to get splattered in two rounds like I did, was really hard to come to terms with.

"When I tried to get back into training, I realised the hunger was gone and my career was over.

"Everything got on top of me and it was a really horrible time in my life. I would go out, have a few drinks, start sulking and start feeling sorry for myself.

"I kept coming home and crying to my girlfriend saying, 'I want to end it, I don't want to live'.

"Depression is a very serious thing. People don't realise how deadly it can be."

You can hear more of this interview on BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast on Friday, 30 September 2011.

Born Stockport, 6 Oct 1978
Turns pro in 1997
21 fights unbeaten and becomes British light-welterweight champion in 2000
Wins WBU light-welterweight title in 2001
Beats IBF light-welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu by TKO in Manchester in 2005
Points victory over Luis Collazo in 2006 sees him become WBA welterweight champion
Awarded an MBE but loses first fight in December 2007 - knocked out by Floyd Mayweather Jr
Beats Juan Lazcano and Paulie Malignaggi in 2008 but knocked out by Manny Pacquiao in May 2009

Ronan O'Gara Gets Italian Job

The Ireland team to play Italy in the final Rugby World Cup Pool C match this Sunday shows eight personnel changes and one positional switch to the side that started against Russia.

Tommy Bowe comes onto the right wing in place of Fergus McFadden.Team captain Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy link up at centre in place of Paddy Wallace and Keith Earls, with the latter moving to the left wing.

Conor Murray has been selected at scrum half in place of Isaac Boss, and will have his provincial colleague Ronan O'Gara alongside him at half-back.

Hooker Rory Best and prop Mike Ross return to the starting front row, while Paul O'Connell resumes in the second row at the expense of Leo Cullen, who captained Ireland to victory over Russia.

The final change sees Stephen Ferris named in the back row instead of Donnacha Ryan,who is listed among the replacements.

Commenting on the selection of the half-backs, head coach Declan Kidney said: "Ronan and Conor went well in the last 20 minutes against Australia. Ronan went well against Russia as well.

"This is the right combination for us against Italy. They've played a few times together now. Ronan has been place kicking well, but if Jonathan Sexton was starting on Sunday it wouldn't worry me.

"I'd hate to go down the road that we're picking Ronan because of his place-kicking. He's too good a player to be saying that about him, while Johnny's place-kicking is not of concern to me."

He added: "Everyone was talking about the Australia game coming into the World Cup, but in our minds we always knew Italy was the big one. Australia was the attractive one to win, Italy was the necessary one to win.

"The law of averages said Australia would beat Italy in the first match. Unless you do a New Zealand and get 15 points from your first three games, it was always going to come down to this.

"England and South Africa find themselves in the same situation - three wins from three, yet they are also in cup final situations."

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Italy, 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C, Otago Stadium, Sunday, October 2, kick-off 8.30pm local time/8.30am Irish time):

15 - Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14 - Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 - Brian O'Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
12 - Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 - Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
10 - Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
9 - Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
1 - Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 - Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 - Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4 - Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 - Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
6 - Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 - Sean O'Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
8 - Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)


16 - Sean Cronin (Leinster)
17 - Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 - Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
19 - Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 - Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
21 - Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary's College/Leinster)
22 - Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Doyle Agrees Wolves 2015 Deal

The Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Kevin Doyle has signed a new contract tying him to the club until June 2015.

The 28-year-old Republic of Ireland international had two years remaining on his previous deal, but has now concluded a longer-term agreement to remain at Molineux.

"It's great news that Kevin has signed the new contract and his future is now secured for another four years," Mick McCarthy, the manager, said. "He has been a key player for us in maintaining our Premier League status over the last two seasons when he has made a major contribution.

"From day one when he arrived he settled at the club and has been the consummate professional in the way he plays and also conducts himself off the pitch. He remains a big part of what we are trying to achieve here, and we are delighted that he has agreed to extend his stay."

The club's joint record signing, who has scored 18 goals in 74 appearances since joining from Reading in June 2009, revealed he had agreed to sign a new deal on the first day of pre-season.

"I'm delighted to have signed the new contract," he said. "It's something we've talked about for a while and to be honest it's been agreed for a while between myself and the manager and it was just a case of everything getting it all sorted.

"I don't really think there was anything in the speculation this summer. I'd actually spoken to the gaffer on the very first day of pre-season when we talked about this contract and I was keen to get it done. I am very happy here and am just looking forward to carrying on with the season."

Gebrselassie Targets London 2012

Former marathon world record holder Haile Gebrselassie insists he is not going to retire and is targeting success at the 2012 Games in London.

The 38-year-old Ethiopian dropped out of his second successive marathon in Berlin on Sunday and saw his record time broken by Kenyan Patrick Makau.

But he told BBC Sport: "I don't want to miss the Olympics.

"It is London and to win here is something very special. I want to go down in history."

As well as a brace of Olympic 10,000m gold medals, coming in Atlanta in 1996 and Sydney four years later, Gebrselassie has won four World Championship 10,000m golds and four World Indoor Championship golds (three at 3,000m, one at 1500m) and has nine marathon victories to his name during a glittering 20-year career.

But he has been suffering from exercise-induced asthma which contributed to him dropping out the race in Berlin after 35km.

This followed his failure to finish the New York Marathon last year because of an inflamed knee, which resulted in him announcing his retirement - a decision he reversed just a few days later.

"Sometimes when I look back I wonder if that was me or somebody else," he said. "I shouldn't have announced like that. But New York was a hard one. I don't remember any of that day.

When asked if he was considering retiring again soon, he replied: "I don't agree with that. If they think Haile Gebrselassie is old now - not yet. I'm only 38."

Makau took 21 seconds off Gebrselassie's world record time of two hours, three minutes and 59 seconds, set on the same course three years ago.

The Ethiopian initially stepped off the road after 27km of the race, before finally dropping out eight kilometres later, meaning he has still yet to secure the qualification time to appear at the Olympics next year.

"Last Sunday I tried my best but it didn't work," Gebrselassie added. "Now I'm looking forward. I'm planning for the next marathon.

"I'm thinking about qualifying [for the 2012 Olympics]. The qualification time has to be something special. We Ethiopians have to run at least 2:04 or 2:05, because only the top three go to London.

"Many of the Ethiopians have already run these times so I have to be careful if I want to be in London. That is why I ran fast in Berlin at the beginning of the race and, of course, I didn't finish."

AVB Gets Tetchy About Lampard

Andre Villas-Boas has hit out at the negative headlines over his use of Frank Lampard and launched an impassioned defence of the midfielder.

The Blues boss insists the England international remains one of Chelsea's most important players, despite starting three of the last four games on the bench and being substituted in the other.

Lampard once set a Premier League record for consecutive outfield appearances and it is unclear if his relegation to the bench is part of a rotation policy or to preserve the 33-year-old's ageing legs for bigger games.

Speaking at the press conference before Wednesday night's Champions League Group E clash at Valencia, Villa Boas refused to be drawn on his selection of the former England man.

"I think I've answered that question enough," he said.

The Chelsea boss went on to lambast the constant criticism of his selection policy and took the opportunity to defend Lampard.

"Frank is an established player, a top-quality player, he's one of the most important players for the club and will continue to be," the Portuguese coach said.

"He's an established player for Chelsea, for England, has nothing to prove to the football world.

"He's a spectacular team player, a spectacular professional, and he will continue to succeed at this club I think - and I hope - for the remainder of my years at this club."

Villas-Boas dismissed his refusal to confirm Lampard's selection in the squad for Wednesday night's clash as "nothing dramatic", but simply his desire to keep his players motivated.

"Everybody wants to play, so everybody competes for a place. There's no mystique in this situation. It's the day-by-day life of management."
New system

The Chelsea boss also side-stepped the question about whether his current rotation system was to be the norm at Stamford Bridge, insisting challenging for honours is his main concern.

He added: "It cannot be discussible, three times in three days, the team selection.

"In the end [of the season], we have to discuss what has happened throughout the season and what the manager has done wrong or right."

Tuilagi Plays Down Super 15 Chatter

Manu Tuilagi has played down speculation he could move to Super 15, insisting he never wants to give up playing for England.

The Leicester centre's brother, Freddie, is out at the World Cup and told a local newspaper over the weekend that he was exploring options in New Zealand.

"We're already talking to a few people. In the future he (Manu) wants to explore different options and experience Super 15," he was quoted as saying.

If Tuilagi was to leave England he would be ineligible for international selection under new Rugby Football Union regulations.

And the 20-year-old, who has scored four tries in his first five Tests, insisted he could not consider giving up on England.

"I am really happy to be at Leicester. I have still got a couple of years there. I am not really thinking about the future. I am just thinking about this World Cup and the game on Saturday," said Tuilagi.

"I am loving playing rugby for England. This is my first World Cup and hopefully it won't be my last.

"When you do something you like, you want to do it all your life.

"I would love to carry on playing for England and win some matches.

"It means everything to get to this level. I feel pretty lucky to be playing for Leicester and England. I am really happy."

Tuilagi's brother suggested Manu had to keep his options open because "maybe 12 months down the line he won't be picked by England".

But Tuilagi is fast making himself a fixture in the England team and he is set to start his fourth consecutive World Cup game in Saturday's decisive Pool B showdown with Scotland.

Mike Tindall described his centre partner as "a freak, in the nicest possible way" after Tuilagi's destructive performance in England's 67-3 victory over Romania.

"I take that as a compliment," said Tuilagi, who could not have appeared more laid back three days before the biggest game of his short career. "I will just go there and play my normal game, play to my strengths and be tough. I am looking forward to it.

"I like to get nervous before the games but not too much. It keeps you alert and you know you are thinking about the game.

"Scotland are very direct and I think their loss against Argentina will make them even more hard to beat because they need this win - but we need this win as well.

"This is not a Six Nations game - it is a World Cup and it will be a different animal."

England manager Martin Johnson will confirm his side to face Scotland overnight.

Lock Courtney Lawes is available to start after serving a two-match ban and prop Matt Stevens has shaken an ankle injury, while Delon Armitage is reported to have been preferred to Mark Cueto on the wing.

Tevez Back to Old Tricks at Allianz

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has said he wants Carlos Tevez "out of the club" after the striker refused to play against Bayern Munich.

Mancini wanted to bring on substitute Tevez with 35 minutes left in an attempt to claw back a 2-0 deficit.

But after the 27-year-old refused to play, Mancini said: "If I have my way he will be out. He's finished with me.

"If we want to improve as a team Carlos can't play with us. With me, he is finished."

The incident in the Champions League Group A match appeared to be sparked by the substitution of striker Edin Dzeko for midfielder Nigel de Jong 10 minutes into the second half.

Dzeko showed his anger at the change, shaking his head at Mancini.

"He [Dzeko] was disappointed but he played a bad game," said Mancini. "It is the last time any player at this club does that."

Tevez, who was left on the bench throughout his side's Premier League win over Everton on Saturday, appeared unhappy he was not called on.

And minutes later, when Mancini indicated to the Argentine to warm up, Tevez refused, sparking heated discussions on the bench.

"He [Tevez] refuses to go in," Mancini said. "He refused to come on the pitch. What I said to Carlos is between me, him and the team [but] I am really disappointed because it is Carlos. I decide the changes.

"It's a bad situation - it's important for a player to help the team. [The situation] is impossible.

"I wanted to calm everything and put Carlos Tevez on the pitch.

"I wanted to keep the score down and not concede a third goal."

Mancini said a player at a top club could not "refuse to go in to help his team-mates".

"Can you imagine a Bayern Munich, Milan or Man United player doing this?" he asked.

"He refused to warm up and again refused to go on the pitch. If a player has a lot of money to play for Manchester City ... he can't [refuse to play], never.

"I think tonight we had a problem, in this game. Before, we never had a problem, we started the season very well but I can't accept one player refusing to go in.

"We will speak about this with the chairman in the next few days."

The defeat was City's second Champions League tie after their draw with Napoli.

Tevez spent pre-season searching in vain for a new club and earlier this month was permanently replaced as skipper by defender Vincent Kompany.

The Argentine striker released a statement in July making clear his desire to leave the club for family reasons.

A few weeks later, City thought they had agreed a deal with Corinthians for his sale only for the Sao Paulo-based outfit to pull out because they could not finalise the transfer before the close of their international transfer window.

"He's [Mancini] had his fill. He's had enough. You cannot keep disrespecting the manager. Whether you like him or not, it doesn't make any difference. You're playing for yourself, your club, your team. There's quite a few managers I didn't get on with but you put your shift in, you play for pride because you're a professional. You simply cannot refuse to play in a football match. It's selfish, it's cowardly and bang out of order."

Inter Milan were also consistently linked with the player, but instead opted for Atletico Madrid's Diego Forlan to replace Samuel Eto'o.

A combination of the fee wanted by City for Tevez and the player's salary demands seem to have warded off potential suitors. Late in August, Tevez admitted he had given up on moving before that window closed.

In a brief interview with Sky Sports, Tevez, speaking through a translator, did not address his decision not to play. "I think it's Mancini's decision," Tevez said.

"I've been a professional throughout.

"I put my opinion through that I wanted to leave for family reasons and I still played my best."

City coach David Platt said: "I don't think anyone can condone a player refusing to get warmed up, no matter what has gone on on the bench, no matter what arguments there might have been. But I think we have got to look at it internally and deal with it.

"Right now it is very difficult for everybody. We need to calm down from the situation, at the same time as recognising that people want to talk about it."

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Darcy Injury Boost for Ireland

Ireland centre Gordon D'Arcy is set to be fit for the World Cup Pool C clash against Italy in Dunedin on Sunday.

D'Arcy missed Sunday's win over Russia with a hamstring injury but he took a full part in Tuesday's training.

Tommy Bowe (calf) and Paul O'Connell (hamstring) took part in light training and will step up their training levels on Wednesday.

Rob Kearney, Keith Earls and Sean O'Brien sat out the session as they recovered from bruises.

Kearney (knee), Earls (leg) and O'Brien (arm) picked up their injuries in the 62-12 victory over the Russians and all three are expected to return to training on Wednesday.

"We're hopeful that everyone will be fit," said Ireland manager Paul McNaughton on Monday.

Declan Kidney reflects on his side's victory over Russia in the Rugby World Cup and looks ahead to the vital clash with Italy

Ireland are in pole position to win Pool C after stunning the Tri-Nations champions Australia.

However, McNaughton said the team's three straight wins had not changed anything in terms of the approach to Sunday's final group match.

"We always knew we had to beat Italy," McNaughton said.

"We're all very pleased to beat Australia but Italy was the game we had to win.

"The team has focused on each match. Nobody is thinking about the draw or anything like that."

Meanwhile, Ireland defence coach Les Kiss has insisted that his team's much-vaunted 'choke tackle' is not the only major weapon at the squad's disposal.

Kiss devised the technique that sees players, usually working in pairs, grab opponent and ball around chest height.

They then work together to prevent the ball from being grounded thus increasing the chances of being awarded the put-in at the scrum.

The tackle has attracted plenty of attention in New Zealand after it was used to such great effect in the 15-6 victory over Australia, but Kiss insists it is just one facet of Ireland's game.

"Other teams have already started copying it. England took it on and were speaking to me about it after the Six Nations," said the Australian.

"Some things you can't keep under cover for too long. Certainly some teams are starting to look at the technique in a certain way.

"Fortunately referees are looking at it in the context of the law and how it can be applied.

"We have a lot of tools in our box to use and we don't just rely on the choke tackle.

"That's the beauty of this side - we can put pressure on in different ways."

World Cup Over for Puma's Lobbe

Argentina back rower Juan Fernandez Lobbe is out of the World Cup with a torn ligament in his left knee.

The Pumas vice-captain, who plays for Toulon, picked up the injury in the 13-12 win over Scotland on Sunday and is likely to be out for about six months.

Coach Santiago Phelan has yet to decide whether to call for a replacement.

If Argentina beat Georgia in their final game in Pool B and pick up a four-try bonus point, they will advance to the quarter-finals.

Pumas captain Felipe Contepomi said: "We haven't achieved anything yet. Now we are in the driving seat in playing Georgia and trying to get qualification. That's what we're here for."

Argentina had already lost Gonzalo Tiesi to a sprained ankle, but Rodrigo Roncero, who pulled a muscle in his left thigh, is expected to recover in time for Saturday's match.

Juan Manuel Leguizamon sprained his ankle and suffered a blow to an eye against Scotland but neither injury is thought to be serious.

Olazabal Hoping to Emulate Seve

Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal says he only hopes to make former friend and mentor Seve Ballesteros proud when he leads Europe against the United States next year in Illinois.

Ballesteros, who captained Europe to Ryder Cup glory in 1997, died this year aged 54 following a brain tumour.

And Olazabal told US counterpart David Love at a press conference: "I know that your father passed away early.

"All I can hope for is that both of them will be proud of us."

Jose Maria Olazabal competed in seven Ryder Cups as a player between 1987 and 2006, winning 20.5 points

Europe will head to the Medinah Country Club next September looking to defend the trophy they narrowly won at Celtic Manor last year and attempting to make it five wins in six attempts against the Americans.

And Olazabal, who shares a long friendship with Love, is confident the event will be played in the right spirit.

The event has not been without its controversies down the years, with Brookline in 1999 and Kiawah Island in 1991 most notably seeing tensions rise between the two rivals.

"It is right to say that in the past we had some incidents, but those are in the past and I think we are moving in the right direction in that regard," said the Spaniard.

"The fact that every time now when the Ryder Cup is played whoever the winner is, it doesn't matter, both teams will get together and have a good time."

Monday 26 September 2011

Kidney Focuses Ireland on Azzuri

Following Ireland's 62-12 demolition of Russia Declan Kidney is already turning his attentions to next Sunday's critical World Cup clash with Italy.

Even though the Irish top Pool C, three points clear of second-placed Australia, they know defeat to the Azzurri in Dunedin could dump them out of the tournament.

After their heroics against the Wallabies, failing to reach the knockout stages would be an unbearable conclusion to a World Cup that has promised so much.

The inability to secure the try-scoring bonus point against the United States could yet prove decisive.

Ireland head coach Kidney said: "Australia was the big game everyone was talking about, but we always knew in the background that beating Italy would be vital for us to get out of the group.

"Because of the points structure we had to pick up maximum points in our first three games in order to be guaranteed to get out of the group at this stage.

"The fact we're in a winner-takes-all situation makes it like a cup final with a big prize to play for in getting into the quarter-finals.

"We know that we could be going home on the plane the following day too. We're under no illusions about the task ahead of us."

The last time Ireland lost to Italy was in 1997, so defeat in Dunedin is unlikely no matter how seismic the potential consequences are.

The quarter-finals certainly moved a stepped closer after Russia conceded nine tries in a predictably one-sided contest at Rotorua International Stadium.

Keith Earls led the charge with two tries, with Fergus McFadden, Sean O'Brien, Isaac Boss, Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney, Shane Jennings and Tony Buckley also breaching the whitewash.

Man of the match Ronan O'Gara kicked a penalty and six conversions to finish with 15 points, missing just one shot at goal, and made good use of the space given to him by Russia.

It was a comprehensive victory over Pool C's whipping boys, but Kidney was not entirely convinced.

"We had hot and cold patches. We started off well in both halves but also probably fell off in the middle of both halves," he said.

"There were plenty of good things but obviously plenty to work on as well.

"Sometimes we didn't have the team cohesion that we wanted, but it wasn't down to lack of effort or anything like that."

Ireland fielded a mixture of first and second string players led by Leo Cullen, who was making his World Cup debut.

The bonus point arrived shortly before the break, but Russia offered spirited resistance at times with Vasily Artemyev and Denis Simplikevich scoring second-half tries.

"For the most part we're pretty happy. Scoring nine tries in a World Cup game is a pretty good achievement," said Cullen.

"There were patches of the game that weren't ideal and conditions out there were reasonably tough, the ball was greasy.

"Russia acquitted themselves pretty well and had some good back-rowers and a lot of pace in the back three.

"They made life difficult for us and will get stronger the more games they play at this level. It was an education for us at times.

"We maybe forced things too much at times but we can move from here on satisfied.

"We talked about carrying on the momentum created by beating Australia and we've done that. Overall we're happy."

Sir Alex Slams power of TV

Sir Alex Ferguson has launched a stinging attack on the power of TV broadcasters - claiming they have jostled clubs into a corner.

The Manchester United boss has spoken out at what he perceives are the tough conditions teams have to work under given the huge power of television companies. 

In a clear swipe at the likes of Sky Sports, Ferguson has even suggested that clubs are ripped off when it comes to the huge payments they receive for broadcasts.

Claiming Premier League coverage is sold to around 200 countries, he told BBC North West Tonight: 'When you think of that I don't think we get enough money.'

In a hard-hitting interview, Ferguson criticises the control that TV companies have over the national game. He said: 'When you shake hands with the devil you have to pay the price. Television is God at the moment.'

Opportunity knocks: Dimitar Berbatov (centre) and Michael Owen (right) are set to play against the Swiss side with Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez missing

Ferguson now believes that clubs have been backed into a corner over the fixture list that is decided by live TV games - and that this has a negative impact on the teams competing in Europe.

The 69-year-old added: 'It shows itself quite clearly because when you see the fixture lists come out now, they can pick and choose whenever they want the top teams on television.

'You get some ridiculous situations when you're playing on Wednesday night in Europe and then at lunchtime the following Saturday. You ask any manager if they would pick that themself and there'd be no chance.' 

The Premier League's TV deal was renewed in February 2009, with Sky paying over £1.6billion to show five 23-game packages.

One-time rivals Setanta paid £159m for 69 matches over the three years before the package was taken over by ESPN. 

On average, clubs earning £4.3m for each game shown on live TV.

Last season United were paid just over £60m due to the amount of times their games were televised, and also for winning the Premier League. 

So far this season all six of United's league games have been broadcast live on television. Next Saturday's home game against Norwich will be the first time this season the Red Devils will have kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday. 

United are scheduled to appear live three more times by the end of November.

You're on camera: United striker Wayne Rooney (centre) was reprimanded for swearing into a SKY camera after scoring at Upton Park last season

In contrast to the veteran manager, former Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick suggested that United owed much of their success under Ferguson to TV money.

'Sir Alex's comments always have to be taken seriously, he is a very wise and experienced football man,' Barwick told the BBC. 

'But on this one, I do think Manchester United have almost had a lions share of TV revenue over a period of time and it has helped build a fantastic stadium in Old Trafford and helped build Sir Alex's teams with star players.

'Manchester United will always do well in the television market because a lot of people follow them.

'The Premier League should be applauded for the number of countries it has got the game to. It has been a massive success story.'