Daily Briefing

Sport shorts: Wales and Scotland name Six Nations squads and three Leicester City players are in self-isolation

Ten things from the world of sport on Thursday 12 March

1. Wales and Scotland name squads

Two Six Nations matches may be off this weekend because of the coronavirus outbreak, but Wales against Scotland goes ahead on Saturday at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones is set to make history by winning a record-equalling 148th Test cap. He will draw level with former All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw.

After losing 33-30 last weekend to England, Wales head coach Wayne Pivac makes four changes to his team. Scrum-half Rhys Webb makes his first start since November 2017 and prop WillGriff John makes his debut. Wyn Jones and Cory Hill are brought into the front and second rows respectively. 

Meanwhile, Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV with hooker Stuart McInally, lock Sam Skinner and No.8 Magnus Bradbury coming into the pack. 

Wales vs. Scotland starts at 2.15pm on Saturday and is live on BBC and S4C. 

Wales starting XV
  • 15. Leigh Halfpenny, 14. George North, 13. Nick Tompkins, 12. Hadleigh Parkes, 11. Liam Williams, 10. Dan Biggar, 9. Rhys Webb; 1. Wyn Jones, 2. Ken Owens, 3. WillGriff John, 4. Cory Hill, 5. Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 6. Ross Moriarty, 7. Justin Tipuric, 8. Josh Navidi 
  • Replacements: 16. Ryan Elias, 17. Rhys Carre, 18. Leon Brown, 19. Will Rowlands, 20. Taulupe Faletau, 21. Gareth Davies, 22. Jarrod Evans, 23. Johnny McNicholl
Scotland starting XV
  • 15. Stuart Hogg (captain), 14. Sean Maitland, 13. Chris Harris, 12. Sam Johnson, 11. Blair Kinghorn, 10. Adam Hastings, 9. Ali Price; 1. Rory Sutherland, 2. Stuart McInally, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Sam Skinner, 5. Grant Gilchrist, 6. Jamie Ritchie, 7. Hamish Watson, 8. Magnus Bradbury 
  • Replacements: 16. Fraser Brown, 17. Allan Dell, 18. Willem Nel, 19. Scott Cummings, 20. Matt Fagerson, 21. George Horne, 22. Duncan Weir, 23. Kyle Steyn

2. McIlroy eyes history at The Players 

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy is this weekend aiming to become the first back-to-back winner of The Players Championship, PGA Tour’s flagship event.

World No.1 McIlroy, who plays in today’s first round with Spain’s Jon Rahm and American Brooks Koepka, said: “If there’s been no one to defend [since Jack Nicklaus first had the chance in 1975], it would be a nice time to start and have someone do that. 

“It is an opportunity, for sure. I don’t think you ever need an extra motivation when you come to this golf tournament, but to be the first one to defend here would be very cool.”

The Players: a big opportunity awaits defending champion Rory McIlroy

3. Tonight’s Europa League fixtures

The Uefa Europa League resumes this evening with first-round matches in the round of 16.

Manchester United are away in Austria against LASK in a fixture that will be played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus outbreak. Wolves play in Greece against Olympiakos and Rangers are at home against Bayer Leverkusen. 

Round of 16 first leg fixtures 

Matches are live on BT Sport

  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs. FC Basel (5.55pm)  
  • Istanbul Basaksehir vs. FC Copenhagen (5.55pm)  
  • LASK vs. Manchester United (5.55pm)  
  • Sevilla vs. Roma - postponed  
  • Inter Milan vs. Getafe - postponed  
  • Olympiakos vs. Wolves (8pm)  
  • Rangers vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (8pm)   
  • VfL Wolfsburg vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (8pm) 

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4. McLaren withdraw from Australian GP

McLaren Racing have withdrawn from the Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix after a member of their team tested positive for coronavirus.  

In a statement the Woking team said: “The decision has been taken based on a duty of care not only to McLaren F1 employees and partners, but also to the team’s competitors, Formula 1 fans and wider F1 stakeholders.”

According to the BBC and Sky Sports the season-opening grand prix will be called off.  

5. NBA season suspended 

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced that the 2019-20 season has been suspended “until further notice” due to coronavirus

Sky Sports reports that a Utah Jazz player had tested positive for the virus and the decision was taken to suspend the campaign. 

The league said: “The NBA will use this hiatus to determine next steps for moving forward in regard to the coronavirus pandemic. A player on the Utah Jazz preliminarily tested positive for COVID-19. The test result was reported shortly prior to the tip-off. At that time, [Wednesday’s] game was cancelled. The affected player was not in the arena.”

6. Three Leicester players in self-isolation 

Premier League club Leicester City have confirmed that three players are self-isolating after displaying coronavirus symptoms. 

The Foxes are due to play Watford on Saturday and manager Brendan Rodgers said: “We’ve had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs [of coronavirus]. We’ve followed procedures and [as a precaution] they have been kept away from the squad. 

“We’ve self-isolated the three of them and we’ll see how that develops in the next couple of days. 

“This is about health, this is more than football. This is about players and their families, so any risks that are there for their health and everyone else’s, we have to mitigate against that.”

7. Real quarantined and La Liga suspended

Spanish football’s top division La Liga has been suspended for at least the next two rounds of fixtures. Meanwhile, Real Madrid footballers have been placed in quarantine after a basketball player from the club tested positive for coronavirus. 

Real’s football and basketball teams share the same training ground so it was decided to send all players home to self-isolate. 

Marca reports that the Real players from both sports will train at home and be given a personalised training plan. 

8. ATP Tour shuts down for six weeks 

The men’s tennis ATP Tour has been suspended for six weeks due to coronavirus. All ATP Tour and ATP Challenger Tour events scheduled up to and inclusive of the week of 20 April will not take place.

ATP Tour chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said: “This is not a decision that was taken lightly. It represents a great loss for our tournaments, players, and fans worldwide. 

“However, we believe this is the responsible action needed at this time in order to protect the health and safety of our players, staff, the wider tennis community and general public health in the face of this global pandemic.” 

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9. Tiger to be inducted into hall of fame 

American golf star Tiger Woods will be inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. The 44-year-old is a 15-time major winner and current defending champion of the Masters.  

Jay Monahan, PGA Tour commissioner and World Golf Foundation Board member, said: “Tiger has done more for the game than anyone ever thought possible.”

10. Back pages: Liverpool stunned by Atletico

Holders Liverpool are out of the Uefa Champions League and their dramatic 3-2 defeat at home to Atletico Madrid dominates the back pages. 

None of the headlines will make easy reading for Reds keeper Adrian, whose mistake led to Marcos Llorente scoring for the Spaniards. 

“Choker” is how the Daily Mirror describes the 4-2 aggregate loss, above a photo of a distraught Adrian after what the paper calls a “another howler”. The Daily Telegraph has a picture of the gloveman on one knee alongside the headline “Adrian agony”.

Klopp backs Adrian: ‘We will not blame him for a second’

Today’s back pages

Llor out! Adrian agony as Atletico stun Liverpool and football’s crisis plan is revealed

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