Qld’s Boyd to get more help from Inglis

Darius Boyd is expected to be a significant beneficiary of revitalised Queensland centre Greg Inglis during State of Origin II in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

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Off the field, Boyd said he’d already helped more than the South Sydney star knew.

When Boyd was battling depression last year, missing the last two months of the NRL season as he sort treatment, Inglis visited him.

He was one of only a few players to do so.

“GI visited me in the clinic which was a bit of a shock – it really meant a lot to me,” Boyd said on Sunday.

“It just shows the guy he is. He is a good friend.”

Boyd reckons his mate will be a big help on the field come Wednesday night.

The barnstorming Maroons centre was a shadow of himself in Origin I after spending three nights in hospital battling tonsillitis in the lead-up.

Winger Boyd hopes to resume his devastating combination with Inglis on NSW’s right side in game two.

“GI is a class player and I don’t think he played as bad as everyone thought,” he said.

“We watched a lot of tape and he made over 20 tackles, had over 100m (but) he didn’t score a try or set up any himself and people think he has a bad game.”

“I think it was a pretty amazing game to be honest.

“He’s having a good prep and I am sure that will put him in good stead.”

Boyd and Inglis share the Origin try scoring record with 15 each in an indication of the damage they have caused to the Blues on that right edge.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga is expected to switch Inglis to the wing at times to ensure the Maroons great gets more ball.

But Boyd said Inglis would cause damage wherever he played.

“He demands that respect. You see it time and again, they (defenders) come in and worry about him and it leaves me open – I am very lucky to play outside of him,” Boyd said.

Boyd himself is impressing after making a remarkable recovery from an Achilles injury a month earlier than expected.

“I think I had my best game (back) against Manly last week (for Brisbane),” he said.

“I am just going to get better and better with confidence.”

Meanwhile, Maroons prop Matt Scott (knee) resumed Maroons training on Sunday.

Blatter may seek to stay as FIFA boss, source tells Swiss paper

However, Domenico Scala, the official overseeing the process of choosing a new president, said that Blatter’s departure was an “indispensable” part of planned reforms to football’s governing body.

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Blatter is under pressure to step down for good as U.S. and Swiss authorities widened their investigations into bribery and corruption at the sport’s global governing body. EU lawmakers are among those calling for his immediate departure.

But according to the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper, Blatter had received messages of support from African and Asian football associations, asking him to rethink his decision to step down.

Blatter was honoured by the support and had not ruled out remaining in office, the newspaper said, citing an anonymous source close to him.

Blatter said on June 2 he would step down as FIFA president in the wake of the corruption investigation, having led football’s world governing body since 1998,, although he would stay on until a successor was elected.

FIFA, in an emailed statement, referred Reuters to the speech Blatter made on June 2 and said they had “no further comment to make”.

In his speech, Blatter said: “I have decided to lay down my mandate at an extraordinary elective Congress. I will continue to exercise my functions as FIFA President until that election.”

He also added: “Since I shall not be a candidate, and am therefore now free from the constraints that elections inevitably impose, I shall be able to focus on driving far-reaching, fundamental reforms that transcend our previous efforts.”

But Scala, head of FIFA’s audit and compliance committee, said in a statement that Blatter needed to stick by his pledge that he would not stand again.

“For me, the reforms are the central topic,” he said, without referring to the interview directly.

“That is why I think it is clearly indispensable to follow through with the initiated process of president’s change as has been announced. “

Blatter has changed his mind in the past. When he began his fourth mandate in 2011, he said it would be his last, but he later backed down, stood again and was re-elected in May.

FIFA is expected to pick his replacement at an extraordinary congress in Zurich between December and February.. The exact date will be decided by an executive committee meeting on July 20.

Blatter’s renewed interest in the job was also a reason for the departure of Walter de Gregorio as FIFA’s director of communications, since he had argued for a completely new start and advised Blatter to go, the Swiss newspaper said.

De Gregorio declined to comment to the newspaper.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Additional reporting by Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by John Pickering and Raissa Kasolowsky)

Market looks to Aust, US rates guidance

Investors will be watching for guidance on future interest rate moves from both the Reserve Bank of Australia and the US Federal Reserve this week.

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The RBA on Tuesday releases the minutes of its June meeting, when it left the cash rate at a record low two per cent following May’s quarter of a percentage point cut.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens provided little guidance on any future moves with that June 2 decision but last week made it clear further rate cuts are feasible.

“We remain open to the possibility of further policy easing, if that is, on balance, beneficial for sustainable growth,” Mr Stevens told the Economic Society of Australia on Wednesday.

“I think it’s quite some time before we even think about interest rates going up.”

AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said Mr Stevens’ speech had laid to rest any doubt the RBA retains an easing bias.

“Of course there were numerous qualifications around this – in particular the risks around low interest rates – but the clear message is that another rate cut is under serious consideration,” Dr Oliver said.

CommSec chief economist Craig James believes the standout event for investors this week is the meeting of US Federal Reserve policymakers, with their interest rate decision due to be handed down at 4am (AEST) on Thursday.

“No one expects the interest rate `normalisation’ process (rate hikes) to begin just yet, but investors will be hoping for future guidance,” he said.

Dr Oliver expects the Fed will signal that it remains on track to hike rates later this year providing economic data continues to improve.

Australian shares should start the week lower after US stocks fell 0.8 per cent on Friday.

The market will also monitor speeches by RBA assistant governors Christopher Kent and Guy Debelle on Monday and Tuesday for any clues regarding the outlook for interest rates.

Azerbaijan success vital for successful event – organisers

On the shores of the Caspian Sea, and with a vociferous home crowd roaring them on, the Azeris won three gold medals, one silver and three bronze in an impressive start to the competition.

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The hosts trail only Switzerland, who have also won three golds but more silver medals.

“Obviously we are naturally delighted with the success of the Azerbaijan team,” Clegg told reporters on Sunday.

“The success of the host nation early on in the games is a very important component of delivering a successful Games.

“On the back of a fantastic opening ceremony it’s then really important to start the competition well for the host nation and we are delighted with the results the Azeri athletes secured yesterday.”

Critics had suggested the event would struggle to attract interest in the Azeri capital given the absence of many of the continent’s high-profile athletes, particularly in swimming and athletics.

Organisers, however, said they were impressed by attendances on the opening day with 17,044 spectators present during nineteen sessions in seven venues across the city.

The Mountain Bike Velopark was the setting for the European Games’ first ever medals and the women’s cross-country event, won by Swiss Jolanda Neff, attracted a 98 percent attendance.

The Baku Sports Hall, venue for table tennis and badminton, attracted a 91 percent attendance and 90 percent at the Baku Aquatics Centre though the volleyball event was sparsely attended despite the hosts’ participation.

Clegg said ticket sales were buoyed following the success of the extravagant opening ceremony which featured an appearance from the American six-time Grammy Award Winner Lady Gaga.

“I am pleased to say as a result of the success of the opening ceremony there is significant interest in the city,” he added.

The inaugural European Games runs to June 28 and the closing ceremony was expected to sell out, Clegg said.

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)

Titans target Maloney and Hodkinson

Gold Coast will focus their attentions on snaring Trent Hodkinson and James Maloney to ease their halves woes after ruling out making a play for Chris Sandow.

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With Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans reneging on a deal to join the club and versatile No.6 Aidan Sezer set to join Canberra, The Titans have been left to source a playmaker for the 2016 NRL season.

Titans CEO Graham Annesley confirmed the club had held preliminary negotiations with Hodkinson and Maloney but said neither were close to signing.

Coach Neil Henry also drew a line through Parramatta playmaker Sandow, who is on the outer with the Eels after this week making controversial comments that the team’s play was too structured.

The Titans say they will be big players in the transfer market with significant room in their 2016 salary cap after Cherry-Evans’ backflip.

“We’re not going to be in a rush,” Annesley told AAP.

“We’ve got a fair amount of cap space available next year but we’re not going to pay overs or be forced into signing people we don’t believe are a good fit. That’s no way to recruit.”

When Henry was asked if the club had any interest in Sandow, he said they were focusing their efforts elsewhere.

“We haven’t made an inquiry about Chrissy,” Henry told Triple M.

“I’ve worked with him in the All-Stars and I like the kid but at the moment I think we’d be moving in a different direction.”

NSW halfback Hodkinson is tipped to leave the Bulldogs with the club to invest in emerging half Moses Mbye instead.

Sandow has reportedly been told he will not be re-signed by the Eels after this week saying the club would win more matches if coach Brad Arthur allowed him to play the way he wanted.

On Sunday, the Titans were given a glimpse of what they will be missing next season when Sezer led the side to a 28-14 win over Canterbury at cBus Super Stadium.

Sezer ignited the Titans’ surge with a 40-20 which led to Kevin Gordon’s try before setting up Brad Tighe.

Maloney proved his worth against the Warriors on Saturday night, coming up with two clutch plays as the Sydney Roosters overran the Warriors 25-21 at Mt Smart Stadium.

In a frantic final stanza, Maloney crossed and then kicked a field goal before a returning Blake Ferguson grabbed a last-gasp try to sink the Warriors.

The Wests Tigers rebounded with an important upset win over South Sydney on Friday night with Martin Taupau leading the way.

While James Tedesco and Luke Brooks were also leading lights in the Tigers’ 34-6 mauling of the premiers, it was Taupau who laid the foundation and was rewarded with two tries.