Barca expect Pedro to stay, says technical secretary

  • 02/19/2019

The Catalan side want to retain the home-grown talent but he has been strongly linked with a move to Manchester United who would have to pay a 30 million euro (21.

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12 million pounds) buy-out clause, Fernandez confirmed.

Fernandez, who was appointed last month by president Josep Maria Bartomeu to work between the board and coach Luis Enrique, also said Barca aim to keep Adriano who has attracted interest from Roma.

“I spoke to them both when we were in San Francisco (on the pre-season tour) and while they are different situations I think they will both stay. We are working to achieve that,” Fernandez told reporters in Barcelona.

“Pedro has a 30 million euro buyout clause. He is a player that has done fantastically well for us and both the coach and I want him to stay. We don’t want him to go but we know that there is a risk with the buy-out clause and we will have to see what happens.”

Pedro, a product of the club’s youth system, played an important part when Barca won the treble in 2009 but he has not been able to build on that.

Last season Barca won the treble again but Pedro had his first team chances limited by the attacking trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez that hit a Spanish record 122 goals.

“If Pedro goes then we would lose a lot. He is someone that has given a lot to this club in the past decade,” said Fernandez.

“He has always had an impeccable attitude including when he hasn’t been playing. There is the possibility that he goes. The decision is his because he has the buy-out clause.”

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

Clarke has no qualms about Test XI

  • 02/19/2019

Michael Clarke has defended national selectors’ decision to dump allrounder Mitch Marsh for the fourth Ashes Test.

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Clarke has clashed publicly with selectors in the past year, most notably when he wanted to play for Western Suburbs to prove his fitness last summer.

The skipper adopted a more diplomatic tone when quizzed about Marsh’s omission on Thursday.

It was the first time in almost 18 months that Australia have gone into a Test without an allrounder.

Shaun Marsh was recalled for the clash, with selectors wanting to beef up a batting order that battled at Edgbaston.

Instead Shaun Marsh was out for a duck, while his brother’s overs were dearly missed after Australia were rolled for a woeful 60.

Mitchell Johnson was unsurprisingly less effective and explosive, while Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc struggled for control.

David Warner faced two balls, but bowled 18.

“Their reasons for the eleven players they gave me and that we spoke about were very good,” Clarke said.

“We’ve seen at Edgbaston, Mitch Marsh didn’t bowl too many overs.

“We knew this wicket was going to have enough in it, the plan was to bowl first.

“Knowing that if we didn’t win the toss it was going to be hard to bat, the selectors wanted that extra batting as well to make as many runs as we could.”

Coach Darren Lehmann and chairman of selectors Rod Marsh have not shied away from making the tough calls during the five-Test series.

Shane Watson was dumped after the first Test, potentially ending his 59-Test career.

Peter Nevill was retained for the third Test, with Brad Haddin left on the sidelines after missing the Lord’s clash to spend time in hospital with his daughter.

“The selectors pick the team and I respect what they do. We’ve got some very good selectors,” Clarke said.

“The selectors have been fantastic all series, they’ve been very open and honest with me.

“They’ve kept the faith with certain players.”

Clarke noted the issue in Nottingham was his side’s miserable performance.

“It doesn’t matter what XI you pick, you’ve got to play as well as you possibly can and we didn’t do that today,” he said.

Rivals on similar path to netball WC clash

  • 02/19/2019

Silver Ferns coach Waimarama Taumaunu and her Australian counterpart, Lisa Alexander, want the same thing from their early pool matches in the Netball World Cup.

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The Sydney tournament’s top two seeds have drawn the same pool and both need to navigate low-key matches before they meet on Sunday.

New Zealand play world No.9 Barbados at Olympic Park on Friday while the Diamonds have 10th-ranked Trinidad and Tobago lined up on the opening day of the 16-nation tournament.

The top seeds’ rivals are reversed on Saturday which is the the last opportunity for defending champions Australia and 2011 runners-up New Zealand to tweak their teams ahead of Sunday’s clash.

Taumaunu and Alexander both want to set a benchmark to build on, work on connections and bed in combinations before they meet for the first time since the Glasgow Commonwealth Games gold medal match.

That’s a game Taumaunu would rather forget: the Kiwis lost the title they’d held for eight years by 18 goals as Australia extended their winning streak over the Silver Ferns to nine matches.

Both coaches want to give their entire 12-strong squads playing time, but neither are keen on making changes for change’s sake.

“We’re looking to get all our people out for the first block of three games,” Taumaunu said.

“But there’s a fine line between giving people enough court time, and not overdoing it leading into the Australia game on Sunday.”

She says matches against Australia’s under-21 team earlier in the week were helpful in providing a taste of the close physicality the Diamonds are renowned for.

“They were a really great line-up for us to remind ourselves of what the Australian style is like.

“We were a bit stunned for five minutes with the physical man-on-man stuff, but we came through it.

“Now it’ll be about setting a benchmark and building from there in each game we play thereafter.”

Alexander’s focus in her warm-up games has been on identifying combinations that work, and she expects that to continue ahead of the New Zealand game.

“It’s more about those really subtle connections together as combinations that you’re looking for as a coach, and whether things are just humming,” the Aussie coach said.

“It’s kind of hard to describe it in a particular skill or tactic you’re looking for, but it’s that ability to know what’s working for us.”

Lifestyle more important than genes: study

  • 09/20/2019

The lifestyle a person shares with a partner has a greater influence than upbringing does on the chances of becoming obese, research suggests.

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By middle age, the choices made by couples – including those linked to diet and exercise – will have a much greater impact than the lifestyle they shared with their siblings and parents when growing up, the study found.

The results suggest that people from families with a history of obesity can still reduce their risk by changing their habits.

Researchers said the study will help scientists better understand the links between obesity, genetics and lifestyle.

They said the findings reinforce the message that lifestyle changes in adulthood can have a significant impact in tackling obesity, regardless of a person’s genetic profile.

The study was led by Professor Chris Haley of the Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit at the University of Edinburgh.

The team analysed data provided by 20,000 people from Scottish families.

The information was originally gathered as part of the Generation Scotland project, a national resource of health data that helps researchers to investigate genetic links to health conditions.

Scientists compared people’s family genetics and home environments in childhood and adulthood and related those to measures linked to health and obesity. A total of 16 measures were considered including waist to hip ratio, blood pressure, body fat content and body mass index.

Prof Haley said of the findings: “Although genetics accounts for a significant proportion of the variation between people, our study has shown that the environment you share with your partner in adulthood also influences whether you become obese and this is more important than your upbringing.

“The findings also show that even people who come from families with a history of obesity can reduce their risk by changing their lifestyle habits.”

The study is published in the journal PLoS Genetics.

UK to hold June vote on EU membership

  • 09/20/2019

Prime Minister David Cameron has called a June 23 referendum on membership of the European Union as he sought to rally his divided Conservative Party behind a deal which he said would guarantee Britain’s prosperity and security in the bloc.

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After spelling out detail of the deal – clinched at an EU summit in Brussels – to his senior ministers, Cameron on Saturday said he had secured the cabinet’s blessing to recommend to voters that Britain stay in the bloc it joined in 1973.

“I believe that Britain will be safer, stronger and better off by remaining in a reformed European Union,” Cameron said outside his Number 10 Downing Street residence in London.

“Leaving Europe would threaten our economic and our national security,” Cameron said, adding that he would propose to parliament that the referendum be held on Thursday June 23, in the middle of the Glastonbury music festival and the Euro 2016 soccer championship.

One of Cameron’s closest political allies, Justice Secretary Michael Gove, and five other cabinet members will campaign to leave.

They signed a poster for the Vote Leave out campaign saying “Let’s take back control.”

While the rebellion illustrated the depth of the division over Europe within his ruling Conservative Party, Cameron’s most senior ministers including interior minister Theresa May and finance minister George Osborne backed EU membership.

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who has charmed some voters with a buffoonish persona that masks fierce ambition to succeed Cameron, has yet to make his position clear.

A source told Reuters that Johnson might show his hand on Sunday.

The agreement Cameron reached in Brussels granted Britain an explicit exemption from the founding goal of “ever closer union”, offered concessions on the welfare rights of migrant workers and safeguards for the City of London.

Though British voters are split over membership, betting odds have moved further in favour of Britain remaining in the EU after Cameron’s deal, according to bookmaker Ladbrokes.

A British exit from the EU would rock the Union – already shaken by differences over migration and the future of the euro zone – by ripping away its second-largest economy, one of its top two military powers and by far its richest financial centre.

Pro-Europeans warn an exit could also trigger the break-up of the United Kingdom by prompting another Scottish independence vote.

The $US2.9 trillion ($A4.05 trillion) British economy would face years of uncertain negotiations over the terms of a divorce.

Opponents of EU membership say Britain would prosper outside what they say is a doomed Germany-dominated bloc that punches way below its weight on the world stage.

“This is a truly pathetic deal,” Nigel Farage, the head of the UK Independence Party said. “Let’s leave the EU, control our borders, run our own country and stop handing STG55 million ($A110 million) every day to Brussels.”

Hopes for Syrian ceasefire

  • 09/20/2019

Syrian rebels are willing to agree to a temporary truce as long as there are international guarantees that Damascus’ allies Russia and Iran will stick to it.

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The Higher Negotiations Committee will meet on Monday to discuss the proposed ceasefire after rebel representatives gave their “initial approval,” a statement from its chairman Riad Hijab said.

The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not itself in a position to sign off on a truce, as it was depending on Russian airstrikes and ground forces from pro-Iranian militias, the statement charged.

It quoted “sources inside the opposition factions” as saying that any agreement would have to go into effect simultaneously on all fronts.

It added that a ceasefire must also be accompanied by aid deliveries, the ending of all sieges and the release of prisoners.

A cessation of hostilities by Friday was proposed on February 12 by world powers meeting in Munich, Germany. Part of the plan was also to ensure access for humanitarian aid to besieged areas in Syria.

But there were ongoing clashes, shelling and air raids on Friday, and UN Syrian envoy Staffan de Mistura also said that it would not be possible to resume peace talks on February 25 as planned and that more work was needed to prepare for them.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry discussed over telephone the problems in implementing a truce and the possibilities of military co-ordination, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry in Moscow.

During the call Kerry also “restated his deep concern over the indiscriminate nature of continued bombing by Russian military aircraft and the lives being lost as a result”, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

They also talked about the progress made in humanitarian aid deliveries to besieged areas of the country.

Swans’ Kennedy to play up forward more

  • 09/20/2019

Sydney AFL ball magnet Josh Kennedy envisages spending more time in a forward role this season.

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With substitutions abolished and interchanges reduced to 90, Kennedy is adopting a “suck it and see” attitude in regards to what impact the changes will have on his game.

Kennedy accumulated the most contested possessions, clearances and stoppages of any player in 2015 and averaged just over 30 touches a match.

A big bodied 188 cm target, Kennedy has shown in the past he can take a good grab.

“Playing a bit up more forward I might try this year, especially with the smaller minimised rotations and not having a sub rule which will be interesting,” Kennedy said at the Swans’ fan day on Sunday.

While Kennedy is poised to spend more time forward, star spearhead Lance Franklin went in the opposite direction in Saturday’s 21-point pre-season win over Port Adelaide, having extended minutes in the midfield.

“It was good for him to be out there and see him run around,” Kennedy said.

“He’s certainly fit and healthy and raring to go, hence the reason he’s playing a lot of minutes up in the midfield.”

Franklin tallied just six touches before sitting out the final quarter of his first match against another club since he finished last season prematurely following mental health issues.

“I think he’s going alright, obviously his best position is up forward,” Kennedy said.

“We definitely need him up forward as a target to kick to.”

Kennedy said injured midfielder Jarrad McVeigh was calm and calculated in his capacity as head coach for the day against Port and was used to addressing his teammates before and during games.

“You always knew `horse” (regular head coach John Longmire) was just over his shoulder ready to give you a spray if need be,” Kennedy joked.

He was excited about the potential of 2015 draft picks Callum Mills, Jordan Dawson and Tyrone Leonardis, saying they could all have an impact this year.

Kennedy said emerging star Isaac Heeney, who he described as an “integral part of our team,” was okay despite the knee tendonitis which forced him out of the second half of the Port game.

An established member of Sydney’s leadership group, Kennedy had no qualms about the size of that section increasing to eight for this season.

“We feel that we’ve got a strong list at the moment, one that can compete for a top four spot, we want to try and win premierships,” Kennedy said.

“The more people we can have on board steering the ship, the better.”

Doctors issue demands on asylum seekers

  • 09/20/2019

The nation’s peak medical organisation has urged doctors to stand their ground in the face of any attempt to forcibly remove a one-year-old asylum seeker from a Brisbane hospital.

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As Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on Sunday confirmed the child, known as baby Asha, could still be returned to Nauru, Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler warned her forced removal would have represented a point of no return in the asylum-seeker debate.

“There is an absolute ethical, not to mention moral, obligation to that patient who is in their care,” Prof Owler said.

“It’s a line that cannot be crossed. If crossed, there is no return.”

Mr Dutton on Sunday said the family had been offered community detention, but could still be returned to Nauru.

“What we’re saying is if people have had medical attention in Australia, the doctors say they no longer require the medical attention, we will work with those families to remain in Australia whilst their medical and legal matters are finalised and then they will go back to their country of origin,” Mr Dutton said.

“If people then don’t want to go back to their country of origin, they go back to Nauru and then there’s a possibility of going to Cambodia or other third country options.”

Doctors at Brisbane’s Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital – where Asha has been receiving treatment after being injured on Nauru – had been refusing to release the child until a safe home was found.

Prof Owler, upon hearing on Saturday evening reports that security guards may forcibly remove the child from the hospital, sent a text to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who in turn contacted Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

He did not know what undertakings, if any, were given.

“I would hope that the prime minister of this country would realise the importance and the significance if a situation were to develop where they would allow the Department of Immigration and Border (Protection) to have private security guards come into a hospital against the advice of doctors and nurses and actually forcibly remove a patient,” Prof Owler said.

“Obviously that didn’t happen. I’m glad it didn’t, but I want to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future as well.”

The AMA called for the immediate removal of all children from onshore and offshore detention as well as a moratorium on asylum-seeker children being sent back to detention centres.

It also called for the establishment of a transparent, national statutory body of clinical experts, independent of government, with the power to investigate and report to the parliament on the health and welfare of asylum seekers and refugees.

Cuevas upsets Nadal to reach Rio final

  • 09/02/2019

Pablo Cuevas and Guido Pella will face off in the final of the Rio Open after beating highly favoured opponents in the semi-finals.

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Cuevas upset Rafael Nadal – who used to be unbeatable on clay – 6-7 (6) 7-6 (3) 6-4 on Saturday. It was the Uruguayan’s first victory over Nadal in three attempts, and he finished off the match with an ace.

Nadal, the 14-time grand slam winner, was also beaten in the semi-finals in Buenos Aires a week ago, also on his favourite clay surface.

“I’m really happy because Rafa is a great player,” Cuevas said.

“I came out here thinking I could win, and I knew I had to stay relaxed, which I was able to do for almost the entire match.”

Pella won over rising Austrian star Dominic Thiem 6-1 6-4.

Thiem won a tournament in Buenos Aires a week ago, beating Nadal in the semi-finals, and had won eight straight matches before the loss.

Pella and Thiem played in heavy wind during the first set, then the match was delayed for an hour in the second set by a downpour. None of it fazed the Argentine.

“The first set was terrible to play, but I was raised in a place where the wind was as bad or worse,” said Pella, who grew up in the port city of Bahia Blanca in Buenos Aires province.

Pella said he just tried to hit for centre of the court, and aimed sparingly for the edges.

Thiem, the youngest player in the ATP’s top 20, played singles and doubles on Friday. The doubles match finished about 1.30am – and it showed.

“Of course it was strange in the beginning, but he had the same conditions and just handled it better than me,” Thiem said.

He overpowered Spain’s David Ferrer in the quarter-finals 6-3 6-2, but he was a shadow of himself against Pella.

“Everything I had was a couple per cent less than I had the last days and the last matches,” he said.

“On this level when you don’t have these last couple per cent, you just go down immediately.”

In the women’s semis, Shelby Rogers of the United States defeated Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-4 6-4, and Francesca Schiavone of Italy won over Petra Martic of Croatia 6-3 6-3.

Rogers and Schiavone play their final on Sunday.

Burns, Smith centuries put Australia in charge

  • 09/02/2019

Neil Wagner dismissed both batsmen in identical fashion in the final half-hour to give his side some late reward for a day of toil under a cloudless Christchurch sky.

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“Obviously the two wickets at the end helped us and were quite crucial,” Wagner told reporters. “A bit of luck for us that we’ve been trying to get all day and obviously got us back into a bit of a better position at the end of the day.

“Six wickets to get is still a long way, a lot of hard work to do and a bit of focus tomorrow on making that happen.”

Burns, who had been dismissed early in his innings only to have the decision overturned on review, was well caught low down by Martin Guptill at square leg for 170, his highest test score and third century.

Smith also fell to a short ball in Wagner’s next over for 138, his 14th test century, caught by the same fielder.

Adam Voges was on two with nightwatchman Nathan Lyon on four as the visitors ended the day 363 for four, having all but mowed down New Zealand’s first innings 370.

Having won the opener in Wellington comprehensively, Australia need only draw in Christchurch to clinch the two-match series and take the number one ranking in test cricket.

New Zealand’s only other success on a wicket offering little for the bowlers was when Usman Khawaja fell in the first hour for 24 off paceman Trent Boult.

Burns and Smith then combined in a 289-run third wicket partnership, a record for Australia against New Zealand.

Burns was given out caught behind on 35 but immediately asked for a review and television replays showed the Matt Henry delivery had brushed his forearm and not his gloves.

“I was confident I was not out. I didn’t change anything the next ball I was facing … it’s very satisfying,” Burns said of his century.

“I’ve done a lot of work with this tour coming up. It’ll give me a lot of confidence going forward, you always want to be backing up individual performances.”

(Editing by Ian Ransom/Amlan Chakraborty)

Jones warns his influence will take time

  • 09/02/2019

Eddie Jones admits his influence on England will not be truly felt until year three of his reign as coach.

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Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster in the wake of last autumn’s World Cup calamity and will be at the helm until Japan 2019, after which he is expected to step down having groomed an English successor.

Victories over Scotland and Italy in the Six Nations have given his stewardship a promising start, but the Australian believes his influence will really be felt around 2018.

“I’m hoping we’ll see the best of this team against Ireland on Saturday, but whether that happens or not, I’m not sure,” Jones said.

“You are always hoping it’s going to happen next week. Sometimes it happens in three weeks, sometimes it takes three years, you don’t know.

“Generally speaking, you look at most teams around the world when a coach takes over, the first year you are coaching the previous coach’s team – that’s the reality.

“The second year, you can change it by 50 per cent, the third year you can change it by 80 per cent. Which means, by the third year, it’s your team.

“Now that’s where you should be at your best. The third and fourth years are the years you get your maximum.”

Jones was present at Twickenham Stoop on Friday night to see Manu Tuilagi make his comeback from the hamstring strain that has kept him out for three weeks, having played only two matches since his return from a long-term groin issue.

The 24-year-old wrecking ball centre completed Leicester’s 25-19 defeat by Harlequins and while his power helped set-up the Tigers’ try, he was also at fault for the score that decided the match.

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill insists Tuilagi is not ready to play against Wales on March 12 – the game in which Jones plans to use him – and a discussion will be held between club and country.

“I’ll speak to Richard and we’ll work it out from there,” Jones said.

Betts stars as Crows thump Eagles in AFL

  • 09/02/2019

The Eddie Betts show returned to Adelaide as the Crows thumped a rookie West Coast outfit by 100 points in the AFL pre-season competition.

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Betts booted five goals and a nine-point supergoal while racking up 18 touches as the Crows coasted to a 2.20.10 (148) to 0.7.6 (48) win on Sunday at Adelaide’s Unley Oval.

His best-on-ground performance came against a West Coast side missing virtually all its stars, including Nic Naitanui, Matt Priddis, Luke Shuey and Josh Kennedy.

The Eagles fielded just seven players from their 2015 grand final team, opting to spare most of their senior list from travelling interstate to play in hot conditions.

But if the stakes had been lowered, Betts clearly didn’t get the memo.

The ever-dangerous goalsneak spearheaded a dominant second quarter in which the Crows kept the Eagles scoreless and pushed their lead out from single digits to 54 points.

“I think Eddie’s just got a great pride in his performance,” Crows coach Don Pyke said after the game.

“He’s a guy who sets a really strong example for a lot of our players. For Eddie, regardless of the stage I think he just wants to perform and that’s the quality of a really good player.”

Matt Crouch was another strong performer in a near full-strength Crows side, gathering 24 touches, while captain Taylor Walker booted three majors.

Small forward Wayne Milera, taken by the Crows at No.11 in the 2015 draft, impressed with his poise on debut while fellow draftee Dean Gore booted two goals.

Pyke said he was pleased with his side’s ability to move the ball quickly and launch counter-attacks from turnovers.

“Obviously, West Coast were in a position where they didn’t bring over their strongest side but we saw some things we had been working on, which is pleasing,” he said.

“We were able to chain it from the back half really efficiently and move it forward, and equally at times we were able to slow West Coast down and force them to kick to a contest.

“All these things we know add up to big things.”

The Crows expect to have gun midfielder Rory Sloane back for next week’s clash against Fremantle at Mount Barker, with Carlton recruit Troy Menzel also a chance to debut.

It was a day to forget for West Coast star recruit Lewis Jetta, who was barely sighted in his first game in Eagles colours.

Key defender Mitch Brown was solid in his first game for the Eagles since suffering a season-ending knee injury in the 2015 opening round.

Burns’ confidence skyrockets after ton

  • 09/02/2019

Joe Burns could hardly have started his tour of New Zealand worse.

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And that’s before Burns lasted four deliveries and was out for a duck in the first Test.

“The first net I had was probably the worst net I’ve ever had, comfortably,” Burns said.

“I played and missed about 95 per cent of the balls I tried to hit.

“I don’t know if it was the nature of the wicket, probably just rust.”

Things didn’t improve when he gloved one down the leg side at Wellington’s Basin Reserve.

But Burns looked in the form of his life on Sunday in Christchurch, producing the highlight of his cricket career.

The opener’s knock of 170 turned the second trans-Tasman Test on its head and showed exactly why national selectors banked on him to fill the immense void left by Chris Rogers’ retirement.

It was the highest score of Burns’ Test career and the 26-year-old rightly ranked it as the best of his three Test tons.

“Because of the context of the game, the fact it was away from home,” he said.

“The first one I got in Brisbane in front of friends and family will be the most satisfying for the rest of my career.

“This one’s technically my best because of the way I tried to play and I was able to do it for long periods.”

Burns, who started the day on 27, faced 321 deliveries in total.

The Queenslander saw off the second new ball after tea, punishing NZ’s attack in the sort of patient manner that Rogers exhibited in a career that produced almost 25,000 first-class runs.

“I just tried to watch the ball and play straight. The bigger the game, the simpler the gameplans,” Burns said.

“I was pretty nervous trying to get those first runs (on tour).

“I was thinking about it all week … just that natural anxiety going into any game, you want to get some runs.”

Burns noted he would take a lot of confidence from the knock.

“I guess I will reflect on it, maybe at the end of the season or end of the series,” he said.

“But certainly it’s very satisfying. I’ve done a lot of work .. it’s been a really hectic 12 months.”