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Phuket Sports: Wales play England in decider

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Sports: Wales play England in decider | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Flyhalf Owen Farrell has been passed fit to return to England’s lineup for Saturday’s Six Nations title decider against Wales in Cardiff, and is likely to start despite Toby Flood kicking six out of six penalties in Sunday’s 18-11 victory over Italy.

The news was not so good for number eight Ben Morgan, who has lost his fitness battle after missing the last three games with an ankle injury.

Coach Stuart Lancaster said on Monday that Farrell was available for selection and that he was also hopeful that locks Geoff Parling, Joe Launchbury and Courtney Lawes would all recover from minor knocks for the Millennium Stadium decider.

Farrell missed Sunday’s game with a thigh strain and though Flood proved an able deputy, Farrell’s ice-cool temperament makes him ideally suited for what is certain to be a high-octane encounter.

Wales will retain their title if they win by at least eight points, or seven points as long as England do not outscore them by three tries. A seven-point Welsh win combined with a two-try swing in England’s favor would see the championship shared.

A narrower Welsh victory would give England their second title in three years while an England win would bring them their first grand slam since 2003.

“We’ve got plenty to work on. I don’t have to remind the players that we need to take the opportunities,” Lancaster told Sky Sports News on Monday, having reviewed Sunday’s nervy Twickenham win.

“We got to 15-3 and should have pulled away. We have to learn the lessons from that but our character at the end was positive.”

While many of the Welsh side have experienced grand slam deciders and a World Cup semi-final, many of England’s have not even played at the Millennium Stadium.

Lancaster, however, did not feel the difference would play a part.

“We’ve still got a pretty inexperienced group but they have confidence and character,” he said.

“I’m confident in all our players. What we need to do is have a good plan and focus our attention on performance. If we get that right we know we are a very difficult team to beat.

“A lot of our players haven’t played there before, so going to that type of environment is exactly the test we want.

“For a team to get that type of experience now and go up there and try to win a grand slam will be a special occasion.”

Wales captain Ryan Jones will miss Saturday’s Six Nations championship finale against England at the Millennium stadium after breaking a shoulder bone during last weekend’s win over Scotland.

Loose forward Jones underwent a scan on Monday, after leaving the field in obvious pain during the match at Murrayfield on Saturday, and his arm was in a sling as the team boarded their flight from Edinburgh.

“Ryan is not going to be available,” Wales assistant coach Robin McBryde told reporters on Tuesday. “He has broken a bone in his shoulder. It looks as though he will be out for six to eight weeks.”

Jones confirmed the bad news on his twitter feed.

“So, so disappointed not to be involved Saturday but thanks for all your messages,” he said.

Sam Warburton, captain of the grand slam side, is the obvious candidate to take over from Jones after winning the man-of-the-match award against Scotland. British and Irish Lions lock Alun Wyn Jones, who has returned to the side after injury, is another possibility.

Warburton missed the second round win against France through injury and started on the bench in the subsequent victory over Italy. McBryde said a decision about the captaincy would be made on Thursday.

Wales could select two specialist opensides with Justin Tipuric partnering Warburton. Tipuric started against Italy ahead of Warburton and took over from Jones at blindside flanker against Scotland.

“I thought Sam and Justin worked very well together in Scotland,” said Wales defense coach Shaun Edwards. “Sam got a couple of turnovers after Tips had done the chop tackle beforehand.

“They worked in combination and that is what you need your back row to do, one will chop and the other get on the ball.”

McBryde said Aaron Shingler or Andrew Coombes were other options on the blindside.

Lions loosehead prop Gethin Jenkins, who missed the trip to Edinburgh with a calf strain, has returned to training and will contest the starting position with Paul James.

Scotland lock Richie Gray, a leading candidate for the Lions tour of Australia this year, will miss the trip to France for the final weekend of the championship after tearing a hamstring against Wales.

Gray was stretchered off the field and Scotland doctor James Robson said he would be out of action for eight weeks.

Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton and wing Craig Gilroy have been passed fit to play in Saturday’s other match against Italy but both centers Brian O’Driscoll and Luke Marshall are doubtful because of concussions sustained against France last weekend.

Sexton missed the games against Scotland and France because of a hamstring injury and Gilroy was unable to play against France because of a groin strain.

Scrumhalf Eoin Reddan has undergone surgery after breaking a leg in the France match and right wing Fergus McFadden will be out of action for at least three weeks after fracturing a rib.

Ireland, who started the tournament by beating Wales in Cardiff before suffering two losses and a draw, have had 15 players either injured or suspended over the course of their campaign.

— Reuters

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Crime

Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Phuket police arrest meth dealer, discover drugs valued at 15 million baht | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Newshawk Phuket

Drugs valued at 15 million baht have been seized in a drug crackdown in Phuket. On October 22, Phuket police, along with Phuket Governor Pakkapong Tawipat, reported to the media about a drug crackdown that ended up with a total seizure valued around 15 million baht.

Earlier, the police received a report from an undercover agent that a woman named ‘Ying’ or ‘Suthicha Thirawut’ was a local drug dealer trading drugs in Phuket area, so police planned to purchase drugs from the woman. They contacted Ying through another woman named ‘Noina’, Ying’s close friend. Around 10pm on October 20, police bought 1 gram of crystal methamphetamine from Noina before arresting Ying and another man, Thanet Thongtan, at the Naka Condominium.

The two confessed that they receive the drug from a man who they weren’t able to name, in order to sell in Phuket. They were paid 40,000 – 50,000 baht per time and admitted to police that they have done this for the man three times already. This time, the drugs hadn’t been sold to customers as they were arrested before being able to make a sale.

Apart from 2.4 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, valued around 4.8 million baht, the police also discovered 76,800 methamphetamine pills, worth around 11 million baht.

The three are now assisting Phuket police with their enquires related to the case.

SOURCE: Newshawk Phuket

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News

30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands

Greeley Pulitzer

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30 dolphins greet visitors to Similan Islands | The Thaiger

Tourists were treated to the sight of a school of dolphins in the Similan Islands off the Phang Nga coast on Sunday.

Tour organisers said that around 30 dolphins swam close to the boat six or seven miles offshore, creating excitement for passengers. It was the first time dolphins had been seen in the vicinity since October 15.

The Similan Islands National Park director said they were bottlenose dolphins and were among several species now returning to the area following a five-year closure of the park for environmental rehabilitation. Food is again plentiful there for them, he said.

Tourists are forbidden to feed wildlife lest the free handouts alter the animals’ natural behaviour, and the park’s waters are also very sensitive to contamination from human disease and marine debris, according to the director.

SOURCE: nationthailand.com

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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