State of Origin NWS Blues Jersey

CONFIRMED: Brad Fittler is the new coach of the NSW Blues

NRL legend Brad Fittler has been confirmed as the new coach of the State of Origin NSW Blues.

The much-anticipated announcement was made in Sydney on Friday, with NWSRL CEO David Trodden saying he couldn’t be happier with the appointment.

“In the last few years, Fittler has made a massive impression on everyone in the NSWRL with the work he has done with our KARI City Origin team and our pathways teams,” Trodden said.

“He has achieved outstanding success with these teams and in reality, he has spent those years preparing for the role which he has now been appointed to.

“NSWRL is in for a great ride and sustained success in the next few years beckons.”

NSWRL Chairman of the Board Dr George Peponis said a number of highly qualified candidates expressed an interest in the position, but Fittler was a unanimous decision.

“I have no doubt that any one of them could have done a great job if the Board had decided to appoint them,” he said.

“Ultimately, the Board was unanimous in the view that Brad Fittler should be appointed to the position.”

It’s understood Fittler, who is replacing Laurie Daley, has already been in contact with Andrew Johns and Phil Gould about involving them in some capacity during his time as NSW coach.

Footy Field

Sydney home to the NRL grand final for the next 25 years

TWO of Sydney’s most iconic stadiums are being knocked down and rebuilt to provide new, world-class facilities to Rugby League fans, it has been revealed.

NRL CEO Todd Greenberg said the decision to build new stadia at Sydney Olympic Park and Moore Park – in addition to the new Western Sydney stadium at Parramatta –  is the breakthrough the game needs to draw more people to matches.

“Our fans will now have access to three world-class stadia where they can watch anything from Telstra Premiership games through to State of Origin and Grand Finals,” he said.

“Those games will be held in rectangular venues, purpose built for Rugby League with fans able to sit closer to the action than ever before.”

Mr Greenberg said the NRL would now commit to keeping the Grand Final in Sydney for the next 25 years.

One Grand Final is likely to be staged at the Sydney Cricket Ground while ANZ and Allianz Stadiums are under construction.

Mr Greenberg said at least one State of Origin match will also be held in Sydney each year for the length of the agreement.

“We have always said that if the NSW Government is going to spend billions of dollars on new venues, then we will commit to using those facilities for our biggest events,” he said.

The NRL has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding with the NSW Government pledging to keep the Grand Final in Sydney as long as the timeline for construction of the new stadia is met.

Cricket Ball

Ashes 2017: Australia confident heading into day two of first test

Australia is in a comfortable position heading into day two of the first Ashes test against England at the Gabba.

Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins were the stars of the day for Australia, taking crucial wickets just before stumps, seeing the visitors finish at 4-196.

The Aussies got off to a flying start on Thursday, with the Poms losing their experienced opener Alastair Cook for just two runs after being caught at slip by Peter Hanscomb after a sensational ball from Mitchell Starc.

But England held their ground after the early loss, managing to claw their way to 1-127 before Cummins removed Mark Stoneman in the final over before tea.

Lyon then ran James Vince out for 83 with a direct hit at stumps, finishing his day with 0-40 from 24 overs on the flat and slightly damp Gabba wicket.

The Australians were growing in enthusiasm, and Cummins struck again in the final hour when he speared one in at Joe Root’s legs.

Cummins finished the day with 2-59, Starc with 1-45 and Hazlewood 0-51.

There were 1.3 overs remaining when bad light ended play, much to the disgust of skiper Steve Smith who had just taken the second new ball.

Play will resume half an hour earlier at 9.30am as a result.

Cricket Ball

ASHES: England wins toss for first test against Australia

ENGLAND has elected to bat in the first Ashes test against Australia at the Gabba.

Australian skipper Steve Smith admitted he was also keen to bat first but it was Joe Root who won the toss in Brisbane.

Play gets underway at 10am AEST.

The Aussie side has confirmed opener David Warner and Shaun Marsh will both play in the opening clash despite niggling injuries.

Glenn Maxwell was flown in to Brisbane in case either is forced out.

TEAMS

AUSTRALIA: Steve Smith (capt), Cameron Bancroft, David Warner, Usman Khawaja, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon. 12th man: Jackson Bird.

ENGLAND: Joe Root (capt), Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman, James Vince, Dawid Malan, Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Chris Woakes, Stuart Broad, Jake Ball, James Anderson. Umpires: Aleem Dar (PAK), Marais Erasmus (RSA).

Ange Postecoglou

BREAKING | Ange Postecoglou quits as Socceroos coach

After leading his team into the World Cup, an emotional Ange Postecoglou has confirmed he is resigning as coach of the Socceroos, effective immediately.

Postecoglou made the announcement alongside Football Federation Australia boss David Gallop at a press conference on Wednesday morning.

The 52-year-old, who has been head coach of the Socceroos since 2013, says the decision comes after a great deal of thought and soul-searching.

“After a great deal of thought and soul searching I’ve decided that the journey for me ends as Socceroos coach,” Postecoglou said.

“As I’ve said many times, it’s been the biggest privilege of my life and it’s probably not the ending I’d envisaged when we started – but at the same time knowing that it’s the right time for me and the right decision.

“It’s a tremendous responsibility to coach your own nation and as an Australian I know how important it was that I was successful in terms of what we needed to achieve over the last four years.”

The FFA says they’ll start searching for a new coach immediately.

WATCH: