Tour de France is ‘a mental game now’ – Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas

The Tour de France enters its final week with defending champion Geraint Thomas heading to the Alps convinced he can score a repeat win.

Geraint Thomas is convinced the Tour de France has come down to a battle of wits between the leading riders after closing the gap to Julian Alaphilippe.

French hope Alaphilippe remains in the yellow jersey but his lead over defending champion Thomas, who sits second, has come down to one minute, 35 seconds.

Thomas moved 37 seconds closer to the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider on Sunday, and was relishing Monday’s rest day before the push for Paris resumes.

There are still mountains to come as the riders enter the final week of the Tour and head into the Alps, with plenty of scope for change in the general classification.

For Thomas, last year’s triumph could be all-important given he knows what it takes to get over the final challenges posed on the road to the French capital.

“There’s so many guys still in the mix this year. It’s such a mental game now,” Welshman Thomas said.

“Everyone will be feeling it, but you need to try and block out the tiredness – bite the bullet and dig in.

“For sure I will look back and draw on my experiences from last year and hopefully that will help – I was suffering at times then as well – the rest day will be welcome for everyone!”

Thomas was shepherded through a key stage of the ride from Limoux to Foix Prat d’Albis by Team INEOS colleague Wout Poels, once Alaphilippe followed an attack by Thibaut Pinot.

After a tricky Saturday, when Thomas toiled on the brutal final ascent of Tourmalet, it was back to normal order as he went past Alaphilippe with two kilometres left to race.

“I felt better than yesterday, for sure,” Thomas said, on his team’s website. “It was similar to yesterday, in that I needed to try and pace it when it all kicked off – fair play to Wout, he was great at that point.

“Then I got stuck by Alaphilippe – and I obviously didn’t want to pull at that stage with him in the wheel, so we let him ride a bit and I jumped with around 2km to go.

“Tactics-wise, we were stuck a bit between a rock and a hard place, but the positive is that the legs responded a little bit better today. It was a decent day all round to be honest.”

Fellow Briton Simon Yates took the stage-15 win, his second of the Tour for the Mitchelton-Scott team, with Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) in second place.

Bernal crossed the line fifth and also sits fifth overall.

The Colombian said it was vital for the two leading Team INEOS riders to collaborate and ride with a plan as they near the closing stages of the race.

“We need to win the race for Team INEOS, it’s not about Geraint or Egan,” said Bernal. “It is always about the team.”

All riders take a breather on Monday before returning to action in Tuesday’s stage 16, a 177km ride that begins and ends in Nimes.

Lucas backs Leonardo to do right by PSG amid Neymar uncertainty

Neymar in Brazil training

Leonardo, the man at the heart of Paris Saint-Germain’s transfer wrangle with Neymar, has been given support by Tottenham’s Lucas Moura.

Lucas Moura expects Leonardo to do right by Paris Saint-Germain amid the uncertainty surrounding the future of Neymar.

Brazil star Neymar is keen to leave Parc des Princes, with a return to Spain via Barcelona or Real Madrid considered his most likely escape route.

Despite the forward’s apparent eagerness for a transfer, sporting director Leonardo says they have yet to receive a concrete offer for a player who only joined two years ago for a world-record fee of €222million.

Tottenham forward Lucas left Brazil for PSG in 2013 after Leonardo helped to broker a deal with Sao Paulo for the much-coveted winger.

The 26-year-old has never forgotten Leonardo’s impact on his career and believes his return to PSG will be a huge boost to the club, although he does not know what the future will hold for Brazil team-mate Neymar.

“It’s amazing,” he said of Leonardo returning. “He is a friend who helped me a lot. He is an incredible person; he is very smart. I am sure he will do good things for the club.”

On Neymar, he added: “I don’t know, it’s difficult. He is a great player. I’m sure PSG want to keep Neymar. But I don’t know what will happen. We will see in the next days.”

Lucas was speaking after Tottenham beat Juventus 3-2 in an International Champions Cup meeting in Singapore, in which he scored his side’s second goal and set up Harry Kane to net an incredible winner from near the halfway line.

“It was a very difficult game, with the heat,” he said. “But I am very happy. We played very well, we worked very well. It’s important to start like that, with a success against a great team. We have to keep going. I’m very happy.”

Lucas reserved praise for Tanguy Ndombele, who marked his first appearance for the club with an assist for the Brazilian’s goal.

“He is a great player,” Lucas added. “He will help us a lot. I am happy for him. He is a young player with a great [football] culture. It’s a good thing to have him with us in Tottenham.”

Last season wasn’t good enough – Mata lays down challenge to Manchester United

Juan Mata leads Manchester United celebrations against Leeds United

After no trophies and no top-four finish in 2018-19, Juan Mata wants a much-improved season at Manchester United.

Juan Mata has challenged Manchester United to improve in the coming season after admitting they were not up to standard in 2018-19.

United finished sixth and failed to win a trophy for the second consecutive season, with Jose Mourinho sacked in December and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer unable to salvage success despite a strong start in the Old Trafford dugout.

The Red Devils’ failure to lift a first piece of silverware since the 2016 Europa League was made worse as they had to endure fierce rivals Manchester City completing a domestic treble and Liverpool winning the Champions League.

It means Mata, who signed a new two-year deal in June with the option to extend for a further year, is desperate to see some improvement in the coming months.

“We know that last season wasn’t good enough. So, we need to improve, we need to try our best in this upcoming season,” he said at a sponsor event in Singapore.

“What we have to do is raise our level and compete and let’s see where we end up.

“The level in the Premier League is getting better every single year. All the clubs have been bringing very good players. So, we need to try to be at our best.”

United have enjoyed an encouraging pre-season, beating Perth Glory and Leeds United in friendly matches and Inter in the International Champions Cup without conceding a goal.

Mata expects difficult games against Tottenham and AC Milan to come but hopes they leave United in good stead for a daunting first Premier League match of the season at home to Chelsea on August 11.

“Tottenham is going to be tough, Milan is going to be tough, so we still have a few difficult games but [we planned] to use these games to get ready for the Chelsea game which is our first official game and that’s the important one and the one that we have to be ready to win,” he said.

Isner fends off ‘quirky’ Bublik to land fourth Hall of Fame title

John Isner described Alexander Bublik as “quirky” after beating him in the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships final for a 15th career title.

John Isner landed his fourth Hall of Fame Tennis Championships title in Newport, Rhode Island, where the American saw off Alexander Bublik in straight sets.

The 34-year-old finished off with a passing shot down the line as he completed a 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 victory in an hour and 15 minutes at the grass-court event.

Bublik, at 6ft 5in, was remarkably the shorter man in the match by five inches as the 22-year-old competed in his first ATP Tour final.

Isner made his comeback from a broken foot when he reached the second round at Wimbledon earlier this month.

The world number 15 found trophy-winning form again at a familiar tournament on Sunday when he outplayed Bublik, a Russia-born 83rd-ranked player who represents Kazakhstan and has a flamboyant side, including underarm serves in his weaponry.

At one crucial point in the second set, Bublik played a seemingly gratuitous between-the-legs shot from mid-court and found the net, when he might have passed Isner with a more conventional play.

Isner, who landed his 15th career title, praised his opponent at the trophy presentation, telling Bublik: “It was a lot of fun to play against you today.

“You’re very quirky but I mean that in a very sincere way. You’re fantastic for the game and we all hope you have fantastic results in the future, because guys like you are very important to keep tennis exciting.

“I want you to keep going buddy. Good job.”

At the Croatia Open in Umag, fourth seed Dusan Lajovic claimed his maiden ATP Tour title, beating qualifier Attila Balazs 7-5 7-5.

Lajovic was a shock finalist at the Monte Carlo Masters in April, while Balazs retired from tennis in 2014 but returned two years later and will now be able to celebrate a career-high ranking, beating his previous best of 153, on Monday.

The Open 2019: Lowry’s triumph continues run of Irish major success

There has been plenty of success for both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in major championships over the past 12 years.

On The Open’s first visit to Northern Ireland since 1951, Shane Lowry became the latest in a string of Irish golfers who have enjoyed recent success in a major championship.

Lowry’s stunning six-shot triumph at Royal Portrush on Sunday represented the 10th major victory by a player from either Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland in the last 12 years.

The new Open champion, who hails from County Westmeath in the Republic, follows in the footsteps of Padraig Harrington, the winner of The Open in 2007 and 2008 and also the US PGA Championship victor in the second of those seasons.

Northern Ireland, meanwhile, has had three major champions in the past decade, with Rory McIlroy winning four titles and triumphs also coming the way of Graeme McDowell and Darren Clarke.

Since the start of 2007, the year Harrington first tasted Open glory, only the United States – with half of the 52 titles since then – can boast more major wins than either Northern Ireland or the Republic, and Lowry denied America a clean sweep in 2019.

We look at how many major winners have come from each country in that period.

 

 

Major wins by country since 2007:

26 – UNITED STATES – Brooks Koepka (4), Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth (both 3), Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Bubba Watson (all 2), Lucas Glover, Stewart Cink, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Jason Dufner, Dustin Johnson, Jimmy Walker, Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland.

6 – NORTHERN IRELAND – Rory McIlroy (4), Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke.

4 – REPUBLIC OF IRELAND – Padraig Harrington (3), Shane Lowry; SOUTH AFRICA – Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen, Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els.

2 – ARGENTINA – Angel Cabrera (2); GERMANY – Martin Kaymer (2); ENGLAND – Justin Rose, Danny Willett, AUSTRALIA – Adam Scott, Jason Day.

1 – SOUTH KOREA – Y.E. Yang; SWEDEN – Henrik Stenson; SPAIN – Sergio Garcia; ITALY – Francesco Molinari.

 

The Open Daily Diary: Celebrations, sombre reflections and rain… so much rain

Sunday’s weather forecast for Royal Portrush certainly held true, but the wind and rain didn’t dampen the spirits of Omnisport’s reporters.

The 148th Open Championship came to its rain-drenched climax on Sunday as Shane Lowry claimed the Claret Jug.

It concluded a wonderful week at Royal Portrush and Lowry’s victory thwarted an American clean sweep of the majors.

That an Irishman triumphed on the island of Ireland certainly raised the noise levels on the Dunluce Links.

And while the final-day field battled the elements, Omnisport’s reporters on the ground were attempting to stay dry and pick out a few unseen tidbits for the last instalment of The Open Daily Diary.

TWO GOING ON 30

After Lowry prevailed, he hugged runner-up Tommy Fleetwood, but that wasn’t the most heart-warming sight on the final green.

That came when Lowry’s two-year-old daughter came onto the putting surface and was swept up in her father’s arms.

It is a scene Lowry hopes to repeat as he expects to be making many more Open Championship visits with his little girl in tow.

“Look, I’m going to be coming back on another 27 Opens to play,” he said. “She’s going to be nearly 30 when I play my last one.”

MIND THE ROPE, LADS

There’s a wonderful vantage point midway down the first, where you are pretty much in the landing zone, can see the players hit off the tee and watch them on the greens.

One of our reporters was stationed here early on Sunday to take in some of the morning starters, and as ever there was an enthusiastic group creeping ever forward to try to get the best view possible.

“Lads, this is the second time – stay behind the white line,” one steward warned as the group took the ropes a few feet inside the out of bounds line.”

“Sorry mate, we did help you find those two balls, though,” one replied.

“That’s true… fair deal.” Compromise is lovely.

YOUR WORK HERE IS DONE

There’s an odd experience to be had on the final day of an Open if you choose to walk a few holes in reverse order once the final group has passed through.

Wandering from the third back towards the media centre, having caught Lowry and Fleetwood card a par and a bogey respectively, you see the holes where the work is done for the week.

The second and first, their fairways still lined with boundary ropes, lay dormant, with no spectators at their side. The tee boxes waiting patiently for players who will not arrive.

This Omnisport reporter found it a little bit emotional, but was stirred from his sombre reflections by a huge roar from down on the fourth green. A birdie for Lowry! And another hole had served its purpose.

MEDIA LEAKS IN THE MIXED ZONE

Omnisport covered all parts of The Open at Royal Portrush, including the mixed zone where players chat to reporters after a round.

The heavy rain was causing particular concern for our man on the ground in the interview area when water started to make an unwelcome appearance inside the tent.

Clearly he needed to adopt the spirit of those hardy souls in the Fan Village who saw the saturated ground as a prime spot for a bit of diving, with several of them sliding face down across the floor.

Hopefully my time will come eventually – Fleetwood downbeat after Open bid falls flat

Tommy Fleetwood was unable to overhaul Shane Lowry at The Open but remains confident his time will come.

A downbeat Tommy Fleetwood is sure he will eventually have plenty of positives to take after his “dream” of winning The Open fell flat on a difficult final day at Royal Portrush.

Fleetwood could only muster a three-over 74 and finished six shots behind runaway winner Shane Lowry amid wet and windy conditions in Northern Ireland.

It marks the second time Fleetwood has finished runner-up in a major, having done so at Shinnecock in last year’s U.S. Open, but he concedes falling short in The Open stings more.

“Shinnecock – I felt great that week. Shinnecock has a little piece of history, I shot 63 and it felt great. It was never my tournament,” Fleetwood told reporters. “Today I was much more in the mix. I’ve had a really good feeling all weekend.

“The other part of it is, and I’m not putting down the U.S. Open, but if I could pick one event [to win] it would be The Open. It’s my dream, and it always will be. And you’re teeing off in the last group on Sunday with a very, very good chance.

“So it feels a lot rougher finishing when you feel like you’ve come so close to what you’ve dreamt as a kid. So that one just feels different.”

Fleetwood’s best finish in a 2019 major prior to Portrush was a tie for 36th at the Masters and having found form he remains confident of making a breakthrough in the biggest tournaments.

“I think I played a lot of very, very good golf this week. I think for me personally it was nice to play more like I feel like how I should play again,” Fleetwood added.

“And of course it’s my second runner-up in a major, which is great and I’m trending in the right way. I just hope my time will come eventually.”

Rybakina denies home hope Tig in Bucharest Open final

Patricia Maria Tig reached the Bucharest Open final against all expectations but Elena Rybakina beat her to land a first WTA title.

Elena Rybakina landed her first WTA title with an emphatic win over Patricia Maria Tig in the Bucharest Open final.

The story of qualifier Tig reaching the final against all expectations had provided the tournament’s core narrative but she was swept aside 6-2 6-0 by 20-year-old Rybakina in the final.

Romanian Tig does not have a world ranking and was making her first WTA main draw appearance since 2017 after struggling with multiple injuries as well as giving birth to her daughter in the past year.

The 24-year-old beat three seeded players to reach her first final in four years.

But despite playing in front of a home crowd, she found Kazakhstan’s Rybakina too much to handle in the title match, losing in an hour and five minutes.

 

I cried in Carnoustie car park – Open champion Lowry reflects on stunning turnaround

Shane Lowry’s emotions at Royal Portrush are in stark contrast to those he felt at Carnoustie a year ago.

An emotional Shane Lowry said he cried in a car park at Carnoustie after missing the cut at last year’s Open Championship, as he clinched the Claret Jug in style at Royal Portrush on Sunday.

Lowry scored a gritty one-over 72 in demanding conditions, where high winds and intermittent heavy rain made life difficult for the field, to seal a six-shot victory from Tommy Fleetwood.

The contrast to 12 months ago could not be more vast. Lowry had failed to make the weekend at The Open for a fourth straight year, plummeted to 92 in the world rankings and had lost some love for the game.

“I suppose I didn’t even know going out this morning if I was good enough to win a major. I knew I was able to put a few days together,” Lowry told reporters.

“I just went out there and tried to give my best. I’m here now, a major champion. I can’t believe I’m saying it, to be honest. I think the people around me really believed that I could, which helped me an awful lot.

“I do remember a lot of times in the past when I’m down on myself and serious chats with Neil [Manchip, his coach], he always reminded me, he always said that I was going to win one, at least one, he said. So I suppose when the people around you really believe in you, it helps you an awful lot.

“I grew up holing putts back home to win The Open. I watched Paddy [Padraig Harrington] win his two Opens. I didn’t even know him back then. I’m obviously very good friends with him.

“You go into Paddy’s house and the Claret Jug is sitting on the kitchen table, and I’m going to have one on my kitchen table as well. I said that to him, that’s going to be quite nice.

“Carnoustie, that just shows how fickle golf is. Golf is a weird sport and you never know what’s around the corner. That’s why you need to remind yourself, and you need other people there to remind you. You need to fight through the bad times.

“I sat in the car park in Carnoustie on Thursday, almost a year ago right to this week, and I cried. Golf wasn’t my friend at the time.

“It was something that become very stressful and it was weighing on me and I just didn’t like doing it. What a difference a year makes, I suppose.”

After his Carnoustie setback, Lowry split with long-term caddie Dermot Byrne and has seen a marked turn up in fortunes with Bo Martin carrying his bag, winning the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championships, and recording top-10s at the RBC Heritage, US PGA Championship and Canadian Open prior to his victory at Portrush.

Lowry, who revealed Martin recently became a father, said his caddie helped him keep calm amid Sunday’s nerves.

“Bo’s been incredible in the last year,” he added. “He started caddying for me about September last year,which is about when I started playing well again.

“He brought a new lease of life to me, he was unbelievable today. I kept telling him how nervous I was, how scared I was, how much I don’t want to mess it up.

“He was great at keeping me in the moment. We’ve formed a great relationship. It was great for him today, they had a baby two weeks ago. He’s now become a very good friend of mine, to share it with someone close, it’s very special.”

Lowry was also able to share his winning moment with wife Wendy and daughter Iris, a moment he will cherish.

“I spotted my family when I walked around the corner to have a look at the green and I welled up a little bit. I still had to play a decent shot but luckily I did,” he said.

“Those pictures are everything. My wife knew that no matter what, she [Iris] should be there because had I lost she would console me.”

De Ligt left baffled by Manchester United’s weight worries claim

Matthijs de Ligt still does not understand where a story about Manchester United not wanting to sign him because of weight issues came from.

Matthijs de Ligt was left bemused by transfer stories circulating about him before his move to Juventus, particularly one concerning Manchester United and fears about his weight.

The Netherlands international completed a move to Juventus on Thursday in a deal that could cost the Serie A champions €85.5million.

De Ligt, 19, had been one of the most in-demand young players in the world following his exceptional performances as captain of Ajax, who won the Eredivisie and reached the Champions League semi-finals last season.

He was linked with a possible move to United until a story emerged in the Daily Mirror suggesting a scout had warned the Red Devils off making a bid as De Ligt would be susceptible to gaining weight as he got older, like his father.

De Ligt says such claims left him truly baffled, even amid the persistent speculation over where he would be playing football next season.

“Every day, there was something new,” he told Voetbal International. “Suddenly, even my father was too fat and that’s why one of the clubs wouldn’t want me. That makes you go, ‘Come on, man…'”

There was another rumour De Ligt turned down Paris Saint-Germain because he wanted a higher wage than Kylian Mbappe, something he previously told Algemeen Dagblad was “insane”.

“Money played no role at all in my choice for a new club,” he said. “Everyone who knows me, knows that. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I will respect that, but some people were saying things like that [PSG story] very easily.”

De Ligt is the latest high-profile player to secure a big-money transfer through the hugely successful agent Mino Raiola, who counts Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti among his clients.

“He has a lot of experience,” De Ligt said of Raiola. “I think there may be a certain negative image of him in Holland, but I certainly don’t experience it that way.

“I think if you ask all of his players if Mino does a good job for them, everyone would say yes. That’s the most important thing. It’s not about what other people say about him, it’s about what he can do for me.”

Koepka Open consolation is a place in major golf’s star-studded top-five club

Brooks Koepka could not land another major at The Open but his stunning season has earned him another place in golf’s history books.

Brooks Koepka’s Open challenge faded at Royal Portrush but the American still became just the fifth man to secure a top-five finish at every major in a single season.

After finishing tied for second at the Masters, winning the US PGA Championship and claiming second outright at the U.S. Open, Koepka had to settle for a share of fourth on six under par in Northern Ireland, nine shots adrift of runaway winner Shane Lowry.

A closing 74 spoiled his weekend, after rounds of 68, 69 and 67 put the 29-year-old in the hunt for the Claret Jug.

Before Koepka’s feat, Jordan Spieth was the last man to achieve the full house of top-five finishes when he won the Masters and U.S. Open in 2015 as well as enjoying strong runs at the Open and US PGA.

 

Rickie Fowler, still yet to win a major, was a model of consistency in 2014, with two second places, a third and a fifth.

Tiger Woods had three major wins in his 2000 season, plus a fifth place at the Masters, and in 2005 he triumphed at the Masters and Open Championship, while coming second at the U.S. Open and tying for fourth at the US PGA.

Jack Nicklaus won the US PGA in 1971 and 1973, and in both seasons also bagged top-five finishes at the other majors.

Despite joining such an elite club, Koepka was not impressed with his efforts at Portrush.

“I don’t see much positive out of it,” he said after his final round. “If you don’t play good you’re not going to win. So it’s very simple. It’s disappointing, yes. I didn’t play the way I wanted to. And I’ve got to live with that.”

 

From third to tied-67th – J.B. Holmes racks up nightmare 87 in Open final round

J.B. Holmes had a day to forget at Royal Portrush as he played the final 18 holes of The Open in a dismal 16 over par.

Spare a thought for J.B. Holmes after the American ran up the worst final-round Open score in 53 years with an abysmal showing at Royal Portrush.

Holmes began Sunday in third place on the leaderboard, trailing Shane Lowry by six shots at 10 under par.

Yet as Lowry held his nerve magnificently amid challenging weather conditions to secure the Claret Jug with a closing 72, Holmes fell away in remarkable fashion, carding a 16-over 87.

His horrendous round featured one triple-bogey at the 11th and doubles at the first, 12th, 17th and 18th, while a solitary birdie came at the seventh.

According to respected golf statistician Justin Ray, Head of Content for the 15th Club, the score represents the worst in an Open final round since Lew Taylor also shot 87 in the 1966 Championship at Muirfield.

Holmes, who also appeared to frustrate playing partner Brooks Koepka with the pace of his play, ended the tournament in a four-way tie for 67th at six over, with only three of the 73 players who made the cut below him.

He finished two shots adrift of Ashton Turner, who had teed off on Sunday at the foot of the leaderboard but managed an impressive 68 to improve his position before heavy rain and gusting winds arrived to make life awkward for the closing groups.

Had Holmes claimed third, the position he started the day in, he would have earned $718,000 – a prize that ultimately went to Tony Finau as Lowry picked up $1,935,000 for his victory and runner-up Tommy Fleetwood collected $1,120,000.

Holmes’ eventual prize money, after a costly final round, was $25,088.

 

Koepka vents frustration at slow play after Holmes watch gesture

As one of the speedier players on the PGA Tour, Brooks Koepka was always likely to be frustrated playing with J.B. Holmes at Portrush.

Brooks Koepka vented his frustration at the speed of fellow players after being visibly annoyed by playing partner J.B. Holmes in round four of The Open.

Holmes toiled his way to a dismal 87 in difficult conditions at Royal Portrush on Sunday, finishing the tournament six over having been in contention all weekend.

The 37-year-old is known as one of the more leisurely players on the PGA Tour and Koepka, who adopts a no-nonsense attitude, appeared unhappy with Holmes’ approach – even pretending to point to a watch when walking off the 12th green.

“I wasn’t wearing a watch, I mean he had a rough day but J.B. is a slow player. I know it’s difficult with the wind, but I didn’t think he was that bad today. I thought he was all right,” he said.

“There were times where I thought it was slow. There’s a lot of slow guys out here. It’s not the first time I’ve done it, especially when you’ve got a walking official with you.

“We were on pace for 13 holes. But I mean, if I’m in a group, we’re going to be on pace no matter what. I’m usually ready to go, as soon as the guy’s ball is coming down.

“I’m ready to go most of the time. That’s what I don’t understand when it’s your turn to hit, your glove is not on, then you start thinking about it, that’s where the problem lies.

“It’s not that he takes that long. He doesn’t do anything until his turn. That’s the frustrating part. But he’s not the only one that does it out here.”

Koepka became just the fifth player after Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth to finish inside the top five of every major in a calendar year.

But Koepka, who was tied fourth at Portrush, was disappointed not to finish higher up the leaderboard.

“I don’t see much positive out of it. If you don’t play good you’re not going to win,” he added.

“So, it’s very simple. It’s disappointing. I didn’t play the way I wanted to. And I’ve got to live with that.”

World Cup glory for New Zealand’s netball Silver Ferns

New Zealand completed an astonishing turnaround under coach Noeline Taurua as they secured World Cup glory by beating Australia in Liverpool

New Zealand landed their fifth Netball World Cup title with an epic 52-51 victory over defending champions Australia in Liverpool.

The Silver Ferns completed a remarkable turnaround in their fortunes, with the global triumph coming just 15 months after a thumping 65-44 defeat to Australia in the Commonwealth Games semi-finals.

They also lost to Jamaica in the third-place match at that tournament in Gold Coast but have been a team transformed under the leadership of coach Noeline Taurua, who took the helm last August.

New Zealand edged past England in the last four of this World Cup and held their nerve at the end of a gripping title match against the 11-time champions to finally capture the trophy after three consecutive final defeats to Australia.

It was the Ferns’ first World Cup triumph since 2003, having faced trans-Tasman rivals Australia in six straight finals, and Taurua said: “I’m absolutely proud, like always.”

The veterans in her squad have become known as ‘the fossils’, and Taurua said: “Our fossils stood up and led from the front.

“It’s amazing and it was a great game as well. It was an epic encounter.”

Captain Laura Langman told the BBC: “It’s been a journey, and I think full credit has to go to Noeline and Deb [assistant coach Deb Fuller]. They turned our environment around and the level of expectation that’s in there.

“Just to see the growth of players from where they started in August to where they are now – even us fossils – it’s been unreal.”

Hosts England earlier secured bronze with a crowd-pleasing 58-42 victory over South Africa.