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Time’s up, says Tag, on another Tiger contract

TIGER WOODS has lost backing from his third major sponsor, Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer dropping the golf star from US advertising campaigns after his sex scandal.In a move that follows consulting firm Accenture ending a six-year deal with Woods, Tag Heuer chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin told Swiss newspaper Le Matin his firm would not use Woods images in US ads for the foreseeable future.”We recognise Tiger Woods as a great sportsman but we have to take account of the sensitivity of some consumers in relation to recent events,” Babin told the newspaper.The company, a unit of French luxury goods empire LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, will continue to back Woods’s charity foundation, Mr Babin said.Tag Heuer’s move mirrors that of razormaker Gillette, which last week announced it was dropping Woods from ads during his hiatus.In a further blow to the golf star, his wife Elin Nordegren has reportedly hired famed Hollywood divorce lawyer Sorrell Trope, a noted divorce attorney who has represented such stars as Nicole Kidman, Hugh Grant, Nicolas Cage, Britney Spears and Cary Grant during his 60-year career.Mr Trope’s reputation as a tough dealmaker could help the former Swedish model, who reportedly signed a prenuptial agreement with Woods but might be in line for even greater riches given her humiliations of the past weeks.That is, if Woods has any riches remaining.Sponsors provided 90 per cent of the funding that made Woods the first sports billionaire, but the squeaky-clean image that made him a marketing juggernaut was undone long before his confession of infidelity a week ago.At least 14 women have claimed affairs with Woods, who said in a website statement he was taking an indefinite break from golf to deal with personal issues. Unconfirmed reports have also spread that one of his mistresses, Theresa Rogers, had Tiger Woods’s love child.The firestorm, which erupted around Woods on November 27 after he crashed a vehicle into a tree and a hydrant, entered a fourth week with no end in sight and sponsor support eroding.AT&T, which backs the US PGA Tour event operated by the golfer’s foundation, is re-evaluating its relationship with Woods.US sportswear giant Nike, which pays Woods about $US40 million ($45 million) a year, still backs Woods as it has since his 1996 pro debut, with chairman Phil Knight telling Sports Business Journal the unfolding saga was a small problem.”When his career is over, you’ll look back on these indiscretions as a minor blip, but the media is making a big deal out of it right now.”Meanwhile, more details have emerged about a deal between a US magazine and Woods to keep an extramarital affair secret.The Wall Street Journal has reported that the National Enquirer kept quiet about a Woods affair in 2007 in exchange for Woods giving rare access for a cover story to sister publication Men’s Fitness.Under terms of the deal, the Enquirer would not publish photographs and a story on Woods having an extramarital affair and Woods agreed to a cover and photo spread in Men’s Fitness, the Journal reported. American Media Inc, which owns both publications, denied such a deal took place.
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Earl wants a shot at redemption

SANDOR EARL, the rookie winger released by the Roosters after he finished a night out locked in police cells with recently sacked hooker Jake Friend, halfback Mitchell Pearce and Manly’s Kieran Foran, wants a second shot at the NRL to prove the kind of person he really is.Insisting he did nothing wrong at the Tank nightclub, the 20-year-old – who has been linked to the Wests Tigers among other clubs – warned other young footballers to learn from his misfortune.”We were probably out a bit too late,” he said of the night he celebrated his first grade debut. ”A few of the boys [and I] went out to the Tank nightclub and it went too long.”I don’t really drink, I’m not a big drinker, I don’t have a problem with alcohol and a lot of people I know were surprised when they heard of the trouble. I don’t have an issue with it.”Two members of the group became rowdy and pelted patrons at another table with ice. It ended in a scuffle and the subsequent allegation that a woman was hit in the face.”I didn’t throw any ice,” he said. ”I had been drinking but I’d sobered up when it happened. I was definitely in control. The next day when we went to the lawyer’s office I was the one who told the story [of events].”Earl found himself involved in the incident because he was sitting at the end of a horseshoe-shaped table. He intercepted a male member from the other group who made his way to their table.”There was swearing and abuse and the guy came over from the other group, and it was [probably] fortunate that I was at the end of the table,” he said. ”I got up and said there was six of us and to ‘let it go’.”There was still [verbal] abuse going on. Five seconds later the bouncers were there and we left.”We went outside and the bouncers came running out saying someone had hit a girl.”The group was asked for their identification and they weren’t allowed to leave the area. Earl said it was alleged he’d hit the woman with a haymaker. He also heard that both he and Friend were supposed to have thrown punches.”The reason the Roosters allowed me to keep playing after that was because I didn’t throw any punches,” he said. ”But the process [after a player gets in trouble] was a shock. It was full-on, you don’t realise what it is like until you go through it. We were dragged to the police station and we had to sit in the cells. We were instructed not to talk [to the media]. It was different. It was [after] my first first-grade game so not many people latched onto me but it was incredible to see a few footballers drinking and a scuffle [covered like] murder.”Earl said he did not believe the incident had ruined his life but he has no doubt it ended any chance he may have had at gaining a new deal with the Roosters.”Well, I don’t think it has affected my life but it didn’t put me in the right stead for football,” he said. ”It didn’t help my case to sign a new contract with the Roosters. However, it has come up in [contract] talks with potential clubs.”Brad Fittler [former Roosters coach] has been great. He’s vouched for me to a few people and I appreciate that. I won’t let him down if I get that shot.”Friend, 19, was sacked by the Roosters during the week after being charged with using offensive language towards police and failing to pay a taxi fare. The club has said it would continue to offer Friend whatever support he may need.Earl refused to comment on his former teammate.”All I can say is I’ve learned a lot,” he said.
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Waratahs young gun confident of big breakthrough year

WARATAHS rookie Rory Sidey is yet to earn a Super 14 debut but what the 23-year-old centre lacks in experience he makes up for in confidence.The former Junior Waratahs vice-captain has returned home after a breakthrough season with Welsh side Newport Gwent Dragons in the Heineken Cup, where he impressed at inside- and outside-centre.Only six weeks into pre-season training with NSW, the self-assured newcomer has upped the pressure on his fellow centre candidates – including Tom Carter, Rob Horne, Sosene Anesi and Nemani Nadolo – by declaring he’s not scared to take control of the back line.”I like to organise and take a big role on my shoulders and not sit back. And I have spoken to the coaching staff about that,” said the former West Harbour player.”I’ve been working specifically with Scott Wisemantel, the backs coach, and he’s really happy with the way things are going – especially with my leadership skills.”It’s been good for me with a few [Wallabies] away from the back line, I’ve really been thrown in and I’m really starting to feel like I belong here. And I’m starting to lead guys around out wide with Daniel Halangahu, so I’m enjoying it. I am only young, but Berrick Barnes is the same age, and he’s vice-captain of Australia. It’s something I really enjoy.”However, the former Western Sydney Ram knows he needs to win the respect of his teammates before he can throw his weight around. ”That’s my short-term goal, to earn respect. Get on the paddock and train well, and earn respect from the more senior players,” said Sidey.”Next year, my goal is to continue building ahead of the season in the trials and get in that match-day 22.”I know there’s a challenge ahead of me and a lot of good Wallabies. But NSW Waratahs is renowned for that, and that’s what I want to be one day, a Wallaby. So I’m in the best spot to do that.”Coach Chris Hickey acknowledged Sidey’s impressive leadership attributes, and said his versatility and ball skills were just as valuable.”Other than the set piece where you start in a position, once you’re out of that phase of play, people end up all over the paddock, so you need to have players like Rory that can organise from all sorts of positions,” said Hickey, who had earmarked Sidey as a future Waratah even before his departure to Wales.At 188 centimetres and 100 kilograms, Sidey packs a punch in defence and has been noted for his Greg Inglis-like fend.
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Roberts hails gay revelation

GAY sporting icon Ian Roberts has embraced the decision by Wales rugby union legend Gareth Thomas to reveal that he is homosexual.Former rugby league star Roberts, who came out in 1995, was ecstatic with Thomas’s announcement yesterday and pleased that society had made it easier for sportspeople to be open about their sexuality.”It’s great that the times have allowed for it,” Roberts told The Sun Herald.”It’s so bewildering to me that other people haven’t allowed for that to happen to themselves. There are so many gay sportspeople … gay people playing league. I’m just like, ‘How can you be controlled by all these other people?’ It doesn’t have to be a problem, as long as you don’t allow it to be a problem.”The 44-year-old was delighted that another footballer had now admitted to being gay. “I think it’s great … at long last someone else has done it! It’s almost like, that’s the breaking of the ice for me. The fact that someone else has done it, it shows that it can happen and it does happen,” he said.Roberts said he couldn’t work out why it took him so long to go public with his sexuality.”After it happened for me, I just thought, ‘What was I scared of in the first place?’ I always thought, ‘Who was I trying to protect?’ It was never me.”Roberts said Thomas would now be relieved. “He’ll be like, ‘Thank god, that’s done with. Now I’ll know what they’re whispering about behind my back,” hesaid.”And once you own it, once you own something like that, they can’t take you down anyway. What can they call you, a poof? Or a faggot? It’s like, I’ve already said that, you knucklehead.”The former South Sydney, Manly and North Queensland forward said it was great that Thomas had realised that it was OK to be gay.”So it’s almost like, ‘Oh, thank god someone else has actually had a look on the other side of the wall and thought, ‘Oh, hang on, it’s OK. It is OK up there in that land,”‘ Roberts said.”He’s opened the door, had a look and said, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad over that side.’ He’ll be starting to think, ‘Oh my god, this is who I am, this is really me, out there, in the street, as I am.”‘Thomas, the most capped Wales international with 100 Tests and a former British and Irish Lions captain, said he initially felt as though he could hide his sexuality.”I was like a ticking bomb. I thought I could suppress it, keep it locked away in some dark corner of myself but I couldn’t. It was who I was and I just couldn’t ignore it any more,” Thomas told the Daily Mail. “I’d been through every emotion under the sun trying to deal with this. It’s been really tough for me hiding who I really am, but I don’t want it to be like that for the next young person who wants to play rugby.”Thomas privately told then Wales coach Scott Johnson the truth of his sexuality, and Johnson then entrusted other senior Wales internationals Stephen Jones and Martyn Williams with the revelation.Thomas said Johnson and Williams simply said: “We don’t care, why didn’t you tell us before?”
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Watson in strife as tempers flare again out west

html,body { border: 0px; }AUSTRALIAN all-rounder Shane Watson became the fourth player to be charged for poor behaviour during an ill-tempered third Test following his unsightly celebration of the wicket of West Indian captain Chris Gayle on day four yesterday.Watson screamed maniacally and aggressively in Gayle’s direction after dismissing him before lunch at the WACA Ground. His actions did not escape the attention of ICC match referee Chris Broad – the game’s code of conduct states that bowlers must not seek to humiliate a batsman after his dismissal.Umpires Ian Gould and Billy Bowden charged Watson with bringing the game into disrepute under clause 1.8 of the code, the same offence brought against West Indian Sulieman Benn and Australians Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson.Australian coach Tim Nielsen said he had already addressed the issue after Watson was spoken to by both umpires after his over-exuberant celebration and then, at the umpires’ request, by Ponting.”I spoke to [Watson] at lunch time and said I think he needs to be careful about the way he reacts or celebrates his dismissals,” he said.”I think that has been one of the things about this Test match that there has been quite a bit of niggle between the playing groups out there and it’s something we are conscious of and something I am talking to the playing group about.”We are trying to maintain a pretty even keel as often as we can but at the same time when people get emotional and it’s hot and you’re tired and there is a game on the line you can understand some of those reactions are maybe over the top sometimes.”Asked what he thought of Watson’s histrionics when he bounded up and down and yelled in the personal space of Gayle after taking his wicket for 21 during the second innings yesterday, West Indies team manager Joel Garner said: ”I am not even going to entertain the thought. The match referee is the man in charge and he will do whatever he feels is best. I go back to Animal Farm days, George Orwell, they say all animals are equal and later on in the same book they say some animals are more equal than others. Maybe that applies in some cases.”Garner, still seething about inconsistencies in the punishments handed to Benn, Haddin and Johnson after the mid-pitch blow-up on the second day of the Test, said yesterday the provocation of Benn started long before the third Test. Benn was found guilty of a level-two offence and suspended for two one-day internationals while the two Australians received fines for less serious level-one offences.”They slapped two fellas on the wrist and they killed the other fella,” the fast-bowling legend told the Herald. ”There are inconsistencies in the entire process and how the charges were laid. If there are three people involved in the same thing they should be all given the same level of charges and that is why I think it is a bit unreasonable. The other thing I would say is you had an incident where [Ricky] Ponting had an altercation with [Dwayne] Bravo and nothing was done during the same game and I have a problem with the way that justice is being administered.”On a day full of niggle and drama the last Windies batting pair of Kemar Roach and Gavin Tonge defied Australia’s bowlers for an improbable length of time. Australia strained to finish of the visitors before the end of the fourth day but even with play extended by an half an hour, and then by an extra over, they could not seize the win by stumps. The Windies need a further 51 runs for an amazing, series-levelling victory.”There is definitely a lot of hope because we have two guys capable of batting as we have seen this afternoon,” said West Indies batsman Narsingh Deonarine, who scored 82 after replacing the injured Shivnarine Chanderpaul in the side.”We just want to go out there and play positive cricket. We are definitely looking forward for a victory tomorrow.”The Australians were struggling with both Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Hauritz suffering from gastric illnesses in the hot weather but Nielsen backed his players to finish the Windies off quickly today.In an eventful innings, Benn cracked Johnson for two sixes and stood his ground when Doug Bollinger claimed a low outfield catch, which was ruled to have hit the ground by the video umpire. He was also dropped by substitute fielder Theo Doropoulos, who had just come onto the ground to replace Hauritz. Doropoulos tasted redemption when he took a catch at square leg to dismiss Benn for 33.
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