Justin Marshall has continued to impress for English Premiership side Saracens in the past six months despite a series of off-field issues.
Justin Marshall has continued to impress for English Premiership side Saracens in the past six months despite a series of off-field issues.

Marshall defies all odds



Despite a chequered past with many ups and downs, New Zealand scrum-half Justin Marshall has bounced back in the autumn of his career to make an impact with English Premiership side Saracens. Throughout a distinguished career, Justin Marshall has seen it, done it and got the T-shirt (well, 81 treasured Test jerseys for New Zealand, anyway). His desire to extend his playing career as long as possible and enhance his experience of playing in the northern hemisphere saw him jump out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Marshall fulfilled a dream of playing in France earlier this year when he signed for Montpellier after two years with the Ospreys. But the dream quickly turned sour. "I joined on a one-plus-one-year deal, but I was told fairly early on that I was not part of things going forward," he said. "I then had a disagreement with the coaches over a substitution. We were 34-0 down against Toulouse and they wanted to send me on with seven minutes to go.

"I questioned the sensibility of sending on a 35-year-old in temperatures of five degrees who had just been out for seven weeks with a hamstring I had torn three times. "They suspended me, cut my pay and banned me from the stadium. That was extremely French and extremely bizarre. "The president left, then the new president resigned and the old one came back. "The coaches resigned and the players were unhappy. The ship was half sunk, the door was open for me to swim out and I was happy to do that. That was when Eddie Jones called me."

Jones was then in charge of Saracens, the English Premiership club, and was seeking a replacement for his first-choice scrum-half Neil de Kock who had broken a leg. Marshall could not believe his luck and signed a deal until the end of the season. Yet within weeks Marshall found himself caught in the eye of an internal storm. The club's new South African investors, who also have a stake in the Super 14 sides the Natal Sharks and Vodacom Stormers, had decided they wanted Brendan Venter, a former Springbok, to replace Jones at the end of the season and bring in a raft of South African players to attract a new fan base from the country's expatriate community in the south-east of England.

At a highly charged squad meeting, 15 players were told they had no future at the club. Jones resigned in protest and Steve Borthwick, the England and Saracens captain, also came close to following suit. "I've never been to war but that was closest I've come to walking into a minefield," said Marshall. "It was a very interesting time. I've seen a few things in my time but after leaving Montpellier and the walking into the fire at Saracens I was starting to wonder where the game was going." It speaks volumes for Marshall's professionalism and ability that even in the autumn of his career he rose above the politics to produce a series of fine displays that earned him a one-year deal. It will probably be his last.

"The way I feel I still think I'll be able to play professional rugby at 45, but I have three young children and we've been away from friends and family in New Zealand for a long time now," he said. "Opportunities are now presenting themselves to me prior to the World Cup in 2011 so that's made the decision for me. I know when I do retire, I won't be ready to." Players such as Schalk Brits, the all-singing and all-dancing hooker signed by Saracens from the Stormers, are clearly helping to give Marshall a new lease of life.

"He is a modern-day rugby player like I've never seen, he does his core jobs like scrum and throw the ball into the line-out, but this guy can kick, pass, reverse pass and sidestep better than most backs. He is better than me anyway," he said. "He's going to be dynamo. He's the sort of guy who likes playing in warm weather but he's obviously going to have to go through a period in England where that is not going to happen but we haven't let on to him about the weather yet."

Marshall hopes the weather will be set fair this Saturday afternoon when Saracens host Northampton at Wembley in a league game. A crowd of more than 45,000 is expected. Marshall played at the famous stadium in 1997, captaining New Zealand to a 42-7 victory over Wales. He partnered his sidekick Andrew Mehrtens that day at half-back. "Mehrtens always described it like a marriage and always professed to be the man and me the woman. I think it was the other way round," he joked.

kaffleck@thenational.ae

Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom

Director: James Wan

Starring: Jason Mamoa, Patrick Wilson, Amber Heard, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 

Rating: 2/5

The details

Heard It in a Past Life

Maggie Rogers

(Capital Records)

3/5

England World Cup squad

Eoin Morgan (capt), Moeen Ali, Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler (wkt), Tom Curran, Liam Dawson, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Brahmastra: Part One - Shiva

Director: Ayan Mukerji

Stars: Ranbir Kapoor, Alia Bhatt and Amitabh Bachchan

Rating: 2/5

Mercer, the investment consulting arm of US services company Marsh & McLennan, expects its wealth division to at least double its assets under management (AUM) in the Middle East as wealth in the region continues to grow despite economic headwinds, a company official said.

Mercer Wealth, which globally has $160 billion in AUM, plans to boost its AUM in the region to $2-$3bn in the next 2-3 years from the present $1bn, said Yasir AbuShaban, a Dubai-based principal with Mercer Wealth.

Within the next two to three years, we are looking at reaching $2 to $3 billion as a conservative estimate and we do see an opportunity to do so,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Mercer does not directly make investments, but allocates clients’ money they have discretion to, to professional asset managers. They also provide advice to clients.

“We have buying power. We can negotiate on their (client’s) behalf with asset managers to provide them lower fees than they otherwise would have to get on their own,” he added.

Mercer Wealth’s clients include sovereign wealth funds, family offices, and insurance companies among others.

From its office in Dubai, Mercer also looks after Africa, India and Turkey, where they also see opportunity for growth.

Wealth creation in Middle East and Africa (MEA) grew 8.5 per cent to $8.1 trillion last year from $7.5tn in 2015, higher than last year’s global average of 6 per cent and the second-highest growth in a region after Asia-Pacific which grew 9.9 per cent, according to consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG). In the region, where wealth grew just 1.9 per cent in 2015 compared with 2014, a pickup in oil prices has helped in wealth generation.

BCG is forecasting MEA wealth will rise to $12tn by 2021, growing at an annual average of 8 per cent.

Drivers of wealth generation in the region will be split evenly between new wealth creation and growth of performance of existing assets, according to BCG.

Another general trend in the region is clients’ looking for a comprehensive approach to investing, according to Mr AbuShaban.

“Institutional investors or some of the families are seeing a slowdown in the available capital they have to invest and in that sense they are looking at optimizing the way they manage their portfolios and making sure they are not investing haphazardly and different parts of their investment are working together,” said Mr AbuShaban.

Some clients also have a higher appetite for risk, given the low interest-rate environment that does not provide enough yield for some institutional investors. These clients are keen to invest in illiquid assets, such as private equity and infrastructure.

“What we have seen is a desire for higher returns in what has been a low-return environment specifically in various fixed income or bonds,” he said.

“In this environment, we have seen a de facto increase in the risk that clients are taking in things like illiquid investments, private equity investments, infrastructure and private debt, those kind of investments were higher illiquidity results in incrementally higher returns.”

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, one of the largest sovereign wealth funds, said in its 2016 report that has gradually increased its exposure in direct private equity and private credit transactions, mainly in Asian markets and especially in China and India. The authority’s private equity department focused on structured equities owing to “their defensive characteristics.”

What is hepatitis?

Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, which can lead to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer.

There are 5 main hepatitis viruses, referred to as types A, B, C, D and E.

Hepatitis C is mostly transmitted through exposure to infective blood. This can occur through blood transfusions, contaminated injections during medical procedures, and through injecting drugs. Sexual transmission is also possible, but is much less common.

People infected with hepatitis C experience few or no symptoms, meaning they can live with the virus for years without being diagnosed. This delay in treatment can increase the risk of significant liver damage.

There are an estimated 170 million carriers of Hepatitis C around the world.

The virus causes approximately 399,000 fatalities each year worldwide, according to WHO.

 

The specs: Fenyr SuperSport

Price, base: Dh5.1 million

Engine: 3.8-litre twin-turbo flat-six

Transmission: Seven-speed automatic

Power: 800hp @ 7,100pm

Torque: 980Nm @ 4,000rpm

Fuel economy, combined: 13.5L / 100km

About Okadoc

Date started: Okadoc, 2018

Founder/CEO: Fodhil Benturquia

Based: Dubai, UAE

Sector: Healthcare

Size: (employees/revenue) 40 staff; undisclosed revenues recording “double-digit” monthly growth

Funding stage: Series B fundraising round to conclude in February

Investors: Undisclosed

David Haye record

Total fights: 32
Wins: 28
Wins by KO: 26
Losses: 4

Company Profile

Name: HyveGeo
Started: 2023
Founders: Abdulaziz bin Redha, Dr Samsurin Welch, Eva Morales and Dr Harjit Singh
Based: Cambridge and Dubai
Number of employees: 8
Industry: Sustainability & Environment
Funding: $200,000 plus undisclosed grant
Investors: Venture capital and government

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Reading List

Practitioners of mindful eating recommend the following books to get you started:

Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr Lilian Cheung

How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh

The Mindful Diet by Dr Ruth Wolever

Mindful Eating by Dr Jan Bays

How to Raise a Mindful Eaterby Maryann Jacobsen

Frida

Director: Carla Gutierrez

Starring: Frida Kahlo

Rating: 4/5

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone


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