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Martin Johnson says there are too many overseas players in rugby's Zurich Premiership and, fearing for the success of the England team, urged rugby's officials to act immediately. England play eight Test matches this season, six of them over weekends with a full league programme, thereby depriving clubs of their star players for a quarter of the Premiership season. Given how Leicester suffered without Johnson and their other internationals during the World Cup last year, it is unsurprising that clubs have turned increasingly to overseas signings.
Johnson wants officials to take a decision that is "staring them in the face". "We have to stop playing as many Zurich Premier-ship games on international Saturdays," said England's World Cup-winning captain. "There are a lot more foreign players in the Premiership now. You do have a little bit of a worry about that.
"Clubs are going to lose a lot of their England players for big chunks of the season so it is advantageous for clubs to bring in foreign players. You look at the majority of most teams' recruits and they are not English players. We have got kids coming through our academy and have got a new academy being built [at Leicester] but what is the point in bringing the English players through if they can only play two-thirds of the league games and for crucial games they are not there? We are a business as well as anything and eventually that doesn't work."
* Keith Miller, the Australian all-rounder known as "Nugget" for the way he illuminated cricket in the postwar era, has died, aged 84. Miller was a dashing batsman, a fearsome bowler and an instinctive fielder who played 55 Tests as one of the most charismatic cricketers of his generation. He was one of Don Bradman's Invincibles of 1948 and will be remembered as much for his attitude to life as for his new-ball partnership with Ray Lindwall. "Keith Miller was a genuine legend, a man whose dashing approach helped cricket regain its place in the public affection after the dark years of World War Two," said Bob Merriman, chairman of Cricket Australia. "He was one of those rare athletes who could turn a game with bat, ball or with an impossible catch. But more important, he was a man who understood that the game, great as it is, is just a game, and he played it that way. Australian cricket mourns the loss of one of its brightest sons."
Miller made his Test debut in 1946 and retired a decade later having scored 2,958 runs at 36.97, with seven centuries, and taken 170 wickets. Miller's experiences as a fighter pilot affected him greatly and taught him to embrace life to the full, an attitude that infused his batting with a sense of freedom that endeared him to cricket lovers. "Pressure? I'll tell you what pressure is," he would say. "Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not." Miller is one of only three Australians, along with Bradman and Victor Trumper, whose portraits hang in the Long Room at Lord's. He was awarded an MBE for his services to the sport.
* Golf's number one Vijay Singh faces a first-round clash with victorious European Ryder Cup captain Bernhard Langer in the World Match Play Championship at Wentworth on Thursday. The pair are in a 16-man field chasing the £1m first prize, the biggest in golf. It will be the German's first competitive match since guiding Europe as non-playing captain to a record win over the US last month. Fiji's Singh, the 1997 winner, is in the form of his life after winning eight times on the 2004 PGA Tour. Holder and top seed Ernie Els will take on Britain's Scott Drummond in the first round. Drummond's last appearance on the West Course ended with the biggest win of his career in the Volvo PGA Championship in May.
British Open holder Todd Hamilton of the US will take on Britain's Lee Westwood, while US Open winner Retief Goosen of South Africa plays Jeff Maggert of the US. Ireland's Padraig Harrington is up against his US Ryder Cup rival Chris Riley. K.J. Choi (South Korea) meets Angel Cabrera (Argentina), Mike Weir (Canada) plays Thomas Levet (France) and Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spain) takes on Steve Flesch (US).
* Champion jockey Kieren Fallon went home from hospital on Tuesday night after a scare that he had been seriously hurt in a racing fall. He had been carried into an ambulance on a stretcher and taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary after being hurled to the ground when his mount Maritima stumbled in the penultimate race at the Leicester track. But his agent Dave Pollington said: "There is nothing broken, though he did have quite a bang on the head." The hospital said Fallon had undergone a series of tests.
Fallon's hopes of a seventh jockeys' championship appeared to have been ended as rival Frankie Dettori notched up a treble at the meeting. But there was speculation last night that Fallon could even ask the course doctor to allow him to resume riding at Leicester today. However, bookmakers suspended betting on the jockeys' championship as Dettori stretched his advantage to 13 with his treble on Yashin, Sunday Symphony and Saywaan.
* David Coulthard is adamant he deserves to continue his Formula One motor racing career - and is prepared to wait for a race seat. The Scot is F1's sixth most successful driver but is facing the prospect of this month's season finale in Brazil being his last grand prix. He will be replaced at McLaren by Juan Pablo Montoya at the end of the season and has seen his options for 2005 diminish. His best chance is at BAR, which will learn this weekend whether Jenson Button is allowed to move to Williams.
Coulthard, 33, insists he is nowhere near the end of the road in F1 and feels his spirited drive in the Japanese grand prix proves he still has what it takes. He was set to finish fourth when he was punted out by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. He said: "It's just one race out of the season but I think it still shows I have the pace, the desire, the commitment and the over-taking ability. Until I sign a contract you can't really say what happens next season. I hope it won't be my last grand prix and even if I don't have a contract next year I will be actively seeking one for the next year. It's as simple as that - I'm not ready to stop racing."
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