CALOUNDRA, Qld - 'Role model' might not be the first term that comes to mind when Anthony Mundine is mentioned. But NRL welfare and education manager Dean Widders believes the polarising boxer is just that and hopes to invite him to future indigenous rugby league player camps in a bid to inspire youngsters. As coordinator of the inaugural indigenous players' camp ahead of next weekend's All Stars showdown, Widders on Friday officially welcomed more than 40 NRL players and selected youngsters for the three-day event on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. In what ex-NRL player Widders hopes becomes an annual event, the camp will touch on every aspect of indigenous culture including everything from storytellers and street rappers to spear throwing and didgeridoo playing.
PATTAYA, Thailand - Germany's Sabine Lisicki reached her first semi-final in two years on Friday when she clawed her way past New Zealand's Marina Erakovic 5-7 6-3 6-2 at the Pattaya Open. Lisicki's last semi-final spot was at this same Thai venue in 2011, the same year she reached the Wimbledon last four. That helped her to a ranking of 12 in the world, but an injury-hit 2012 saw her slip out of the top 50. "I didn't serve perfectly," the fifth-seeded Lisicki said.
LONDON - Wayne Rooney admits he told Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson he wanted to stop taking penalties because he was fed up with missing from the spot. Rooney smashed his last spot-kick well over the crossbar in an FA Cup tie against West Ham in January. That was the second time this season he had failed from the spot and it proved the last straw for the England star. When United got another penalty against Fulham last weekend, it was Ryan Giggs who stepped up to take it and the Welsh veteran showed Rooney how to do it as he scored to put his side ahead.
PARIS - The unveiling of David Beckham as a Paris Saint-Germain player was undoubtedly a major media event and marketing ploy but what can the Englishman, now 37, actually offer on the pitch? The fact that Beckham has signed only a five-month contract indicates that football is not the priority, especially as the French season finishes in mid-May and the player has admitted that he will need "a few weeks" before he is fully fit. But even when he does take to the field, it will not be the Beckham of his peak. After all, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid player left Europe for the MLS in 2007 - although he has had two loan spells at AC Milan since then - and last played for England in 2009.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - Organisers won't move the African Cup of Nations semi-final away from Mbombela Stadium despite its sand-covered field being branded as "not good enough" for the tournament by the Confederation of African Football. "Plan A and B and C is to play in Mbombela and to improve the pitch," CAF secretary general Hicham El Amrani said on Friday in the ruling body's mid-tournament briefing. "Of course (the field is) not good enough and we're working on it. We can't go backwards."