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Cockerill confident England will match Scots’ passion

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England forwards coach Richard Cockerill says the English will have no trouble matching Scotland’s “passion” when they face their oldest rivals in the Six Nations at Twickenham on Saturday.

Scotland are always keen to get the better of England in a fixture dating back to 1871.

The desire will be even more potent given the latest chapter of the rivalry comes on the opening weekend of the Six Nations.

But Cockerill, who lives in Edinburgh having previously been in charge of the Scottish capital club, said the hosts would have plenty of emotional fuel themselves as they try to beat Scotland for the first time since 2020.

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“I can assure you that, tomorrow, we will have enough passion to match the Scots’ passion. Then it will be down to who plays the best rugby,” Cockerill told reporters on Friday.

Cockerill, capped 27 times by England, added: “When I was a player, it was the rivalry and realising how competitive the Scots are against the English. I still live in Edinburgh so I see that every day. It’s a huge game.

“We know it means a lot to Scotland and it means a hell of a lot to us as an England team. The rivalry is going to be keen.”

That competition was brought home to Cockerill when he lost a bet and had to wear a Scotland hat following the Dark Blues’ 2018 win over England at Murrayfield.

Asked if that had been a painful experience, Cockerill replied: “Yes, very! It was all in good humour.”

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‘Scrum hasn’t been good enough’

Cockerill is the last surviving member of Eddie Jones’ staff still involved in an England backroom set-up now led by new head coach Steve Borthwick.

Jones was sacked after a November campaign that capped England’s worst year since 2008, with Cockerill clear on where the team had to get better.

“Our scrum hasn’t been good enough and that’s something we need to improve,” he said.

“Our set-piece parts have to be a lot better if we’re going to compete at this level and win games at this level.”

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Veteran prop Dan Cole, 35 will be on England’s bench on Saturday after being recalled to the Test set-up for the first time since the 2019 World Cup.

Cole, asked why he had been recalled, jokingly replied: “Probably my goal-kicking, charm, good looks.”

But on a serious note, the 95-times capped Cole added: “I think England want to play a certain way with Steve — set-piece and I think he thinks I’ve something to offer in that part of the game.” 

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

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Sinisterra signs long-term deal with Bournemouth

Luis Sinisterra has made his move to AFC Bournemouth from Leeds United permanent, signing a long-term deal with the Premier League team on Friday.

Bournemouth reportedly agreed to a £20 million fee with Championship (second-tier) side Leeds.

The 24-year-old Colombian had been impressive since joining Bournemouth in September on a loan spell from Leeds United, with three goals and three assists in his 17 appearances.

“I’m really happy to make this move. I’m excited to play for Bournemouth for the long term,” Sinisterra said. “I feel really comfortable here and the fans are really nice. When I meet them in the streets, they show the love.”

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Andoni Iraola’s team are 12th in the table on 27 points, but are winless in their last four games. They play Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday. 

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

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Son and Bissouma ready for Spurs game with Brighton

 Son Heung-min and Yves Bissouma returned to Tottenham Hotspur this week from international duty, and both are ready for Spurs’ game with Brighton & Hove Albion, manager Ange Postecoglou said on Friday.

Son was involved with South Korea at the Asian Cup where they lost to Jordan in the semi-final on Tuesday while Bissouma’s Mali exited the Africa Cup of Nations last weekend at the quarter-final stage.

Spurs, fifth in the standings on 44 points, host Brighton on Saturday, with Roberto De Zerbi’s side in eighth place on 35 points.

“Sonny and Biss they trained well. Sonny did recovery on Thursday and trained today,” Postecoglou told a press conference.

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“He is very disappointed for Korea’s exit, at the semi-final stage you feel so close. But he gave everything for his nation, no-one could question his commitment.

“I spoke to him after and he was keen to be back, so no surprise he was back training straight away.”

The manager also played down concerns over Bissouma, after media reports that he had played through the illness with malaria at the tournament.

“No, that’s not right. He had a slight form of malaria before the tournament, but it cleared up by the start of tournament. He’s 100 percent now.”

Manor Solomon hasn’t played since September and Postecoglou confirmed that the winger had another procedure on his knee earlier this week and is still another two or three weeks away from a return.

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Another injury concern was Giovani Lo Celso who missed the last three league games for Spurs.

“Lo Celso trained all week but he’s missed a fair bit of football so we’ll see whether he needs another week or not,” the manager said.

“It’s probably, for want of a better word, the healthiest squad we’ve had for quite a while anyway.”

Spurs conceded an added-time equaliser at Everton last weekend and lost to a late Nathan Ake goal against Manchester City in the FA Cup, but conceding late is not something that overly concerns their manager.

“It’s disappointing to concede goals at any point. People will want to analyse it,” Postecoglou said.

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“I’m sorry but we’re going to be a team that will score or concede goals late. The way we want to close out games is by trying to score goals late on.

“One thing we’re not going to do is jump at shadows and try to fix the latest thing being analysed.” 

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Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

Fils ends ‘great champion’ Gasquet’s 956 weeks in top 100

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Fils ends 'great champion' Gasquet's 956 weeks in top 100

 Rising star Arthur Fils beat fellow Frenchman Richard Gasquet at the Auckland Classic on Tuesday to end the veteran’s run of more than 18 years in the world’s top 100.

The 19-year-old Fils cruised to a 6-3, 6-4 victory against the 37-year-old Gasquet, who had enjoyed a remarkable 956 consecutive weeks in the top 100, peaking at number seven in July 2007.

Gasquet was defending the Auckland title and points he won 12 months ago, so the first-round defeat will see him slide down from 76th in the world when new rankings are released next week.

Fils, with a booming serve that produced nine aces, broke at 2-2 in the first set and at 1-1 in the second and applauded Gasquet as he left the court.

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“He’s a great champion. He did an unbelievable career so I’m really happy to play on the court with him,” said Fils, who reached the quarter-finals of the Hong Kong Open last week.

“But it was a nice match for my part and I’m really happy.”

In other action, Canada’s Denis Shapovalov looked rusty in his first match since Wimbledon last year, losing Austria’s Sebastian Ofner 6-4, 6-2.

Roberto Bautista Agut was beaten by fellow Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena 6-4, 6-4 and eighth seed Max Purcell of Australia overcame New Zealand’s 716th-ranked wildcard Kiranpal Pannu 6-4, 6-4.

The top four seeds, Ben Shelton, Cameron Norrie, Francisco Cerundolo and Felix Auger-Aliassime, all had first-round byes. 

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