Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Why the Blues have to lose

Originally posted at http://www.theroar.com.au/2012/06/27/why-blues-just-lose/#comment-949734

I’m a proud, passionate and one-eyed New South Welshman. I’m so passionate that I bleed sky blue and drink Toohey’s New, even if it tastes like something Black Caviar passed through her urinary tract after a big win at Royal Ascot.

Just quickly, on the topic of beer, am I the only one who is confused by VB sponsoring NSW? How has this slipped under everyone’s radar?

Like everyone else in this great state I’m fuming that they’re talking about reintroducing tolls on the M4. I’m livid when I’m stuck in traffic while those bloody bicycle lanes remain as vacant as the reserves of the Central Bank of Spain. 

And I’m super pissed that those rednecks north of the border are on the cusp of winning their seventh consecutive Origin series.

Yet despite feeling nauseous at the idea of King Wally and Fatty giggling like 16-year-old schoolgirls enjoying a joint and their first girl on girl pash behind the toilet block, there’s a part of me that’s secretly hoping that the Maroons grind the Blues into the dust and put to rest any thoughts that Ricky Stuart is a decent coach.

You see, I’m a depressed Parra fan – is there any other kind?. The Blue and Gold army has taken quite a beating these last couple of weeks, years, decades… There’s only so much pain a man can take. 

I’ve endured Sterlo’s dodgy shoulders, the Crow’s busted eye, Zip Zip’s dicky knees and Brett Kenny labouring against father time while the ‘talent’ around him dropped quicker than Lehman Brothers. I stuck true when the only thing that kept us from winning some prized wooden cutlery in 1992 was the Gold Coast Seagulls being stripped of two points after using too many interchanges. 

I celebrated the arrival of the big four from the Doggies during the Super League war, before later cursing the bastards. I was there to see the Carige brain explosion when we choked in the finals. Then I faked my way through a whole year of my life, kinda like Jenna Jameson’s greatest scenes, after the Jana Novotna impersonation against Newcastle in 2001. 

I survived the Dykes and McFadden era and the ‘glory’ years of Tim Smith and the second coming of Peter Sterling. I’ve farewelled the ‘Emperor’ Denis Fitzgerald, welcomed the ‘Don’ Roy Spagnolo, and have seen off more coaches than Pamela Anderson has sex tapes. I’ve talked up Danny Crnkovich, cheered for Scotty Mahon, prayed for Adam Ritson and cursed big Mick Vella.

I rode the Hayne plane all way to the edge of glory and parachuted out before we crash landed shortly afterward in 2009. I even paid for my yearly membership even though we signed Carl Webb, Chris Hicks, Chris Walker and Paul Whatuira. Honestly has there ever been a more pathetic NRL recruitment drive?

But every man has his limits…and I’m seriously at the end of my tether. 

The rumour mill has been in overdrive recently about the status of Steve Kearney. The board has yet to plant the kiss of death and give Kearney their full backing, but every man and his dog has been linked with some sort of assistant role, from Jason Taylor and Graham Lowe. There’s even talk about signing up psychic John Edwards to channel Jack Gibson from the afterlife. 

But last weekend was the final straw, when I read that Ricky Stuart, on the back of an ”impressive Origin campaign”, was being eyed as a possible replacement for Kearney.
Personally I’ve got nothing against Ricky the man, but Ricky the coach is going to kill my enjoyment of league forever. 

If it’s not enough that I have to watch the walking donut Chris Sandow and his cap killing contract blunder make his way around the park week in week out, the thought of Tricky Ricky sticking true to his instinct that Hayne is a natural five eighth, and pairing him with Sandow in the halves, is too much to bear. 

Right now Jarryd Hayne spends most of his time sleepwalking his way through matches from fullback. 

To watch him constantly kick the ball dead from first receiver on one side of the ruck while Sandow fumbles passes on the other side is enough to make me reach for a collection of Peter FitzSimons’ greatest works to put me out of my misery. 

So Ricky…if you’ve got any compassion for an Eels fan on the frayed edge of sanity, tell the boys to chuck it in and move onto a cushy job in the English Super League. 

I can live with another year of infuriating hillbillies talking up the land of the inbred cane toad.
But I just can’t survive a Hayne – Sandow halves combo.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Deconstructing LeBron James

Fans of greatness are blessed to be living and breathing in the most golden era of competitive sports.

Tennis has moved seamlessly from all time great Pete Sampras to the even greater Federer, Nadal and Djokovic troika. Football fans are mesmerized by Leo Messi and his merry band of Barcelona buddies. Petrol heads enjoy watching six – repeat six – world champions vying for the F1 crown. Usain Bolt’s giraffe like strides have carried him into the record books. Black Caviar continues to defy the glue factory with her winning ways. Michael Phelps’ gold stash puts Fort Knox to shame, Tiger Woods counts more Masters and mistresses than most people across ten lifetimes, and in women’s tennis…well the less said about women’s tennis the better.

We are surrounded by greatness. Good times for sports fans.

And then there is the enigma that is LeBron James.

Not only is James the most dominant basketball player in the NBA, he’s arguably the most impressive athletic specimen on the planet. Measuring 6 ft 8 inches (2.03m) and 250 pounds (113 kg), James is the perfect combination of size, power, quickness, agility, athleticism and IQ. It’s like scientists at CERN genetically developed an uber-baller using the DNA of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson together with leftover nuclear waste from Chernobyl and the pills East German ‘women’ were taking in the 1970’s. Or if you’re mythologically inclined, like Zeus descended from Mount Olympus and stole seven minutes in the closet with Steffi Graf while Andre Agassi was busy shaving his head.

Seriously, there is absolutely nothing LBJ can’t do on a basketball court. And not only can he do it all, when he turns it on its f#cking awesome to watch. Anyone who saw his recent 45 point, 15 rebound, 5 assist outing against Boston in the playoffs will know what I’m talking about. It’s like watching a grown man play with kids (not that way you filthy buggers). He’s that dominant.

Then why does he polarise opinion so much? It can’t just be ‘The Decision’, when James decided to pack his bags and move from Cleveland to take his ‘talents to South Beach’ and play for Miami. I know it was a real wankfest but come on...you’d choose Cleveland over Miami? Send a Wookie to the States, give him the same option and I guarantee the fur ball picks Miami eleven times out of ten.

It’s winning. It’s dominating. It’s the ability to turn it on when the team needs him most.

Most pro-golfers can chip in from the bunker, but Tiger does it on the 18th when he needs a birdie for the win. Need pole position with one lap to go in qualifying? Ayrton Senna says ‘no problem’ (or ‘não há problema’) and scorches out the fastest time. When Pistol Pete is down break point on his second serve he launches a 200km plus ace OUT WIDE! After being crushed in a bear hug by Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan kicks out of the pin, body slams the big fella and launches into the atomic leg drop. Legends, all at the peak of their powers, performing when it matters most.

And then there is the enigma that is LeBron James.

LeBron haters hammer him for deferring to his teammates and not taking the big shot in crunch time. On the flip side LeBron lovers will tell you it’s a team game, and LeBron is one of many in a long list of NBA greats who haven’t always taken the last shot. Magic is celebrated more for his assists than his points. Bird’s passing abilities were contagious in Boston. Isaiah Thomas, Chris Paul, Kobe...well not Kobe...have all found ways to make plays for their teammates in big games. Even Jordan famously passed out to John Paxson and Steve Kerr – two goofy white guys – for championship winning shots.

But the key is they made plays. There were at their absolute most aggressive, most dominant, in the final seconds of big games. It doesn’t always work out. They don’t always win. As many game winning plays as Jordan, Magic and Bird have made, I guarantee collectively they’ve screwed up a bunch more. But they stayed aggressive. They made plays. I can assure you that Michael Jordan has never spent a 6 to 8 minute stretch in the fourth quarter of a playoff game hanging by the baseline while a teammate ran the point.

And this is the frustration with LeBron. He excels at everything, but he seems to be missing that gene, that extra chromosome, that Hulk mutation, that ensures that come winning time, he morphs into a big green monster and takes over, playing a major part in which way the script unfolds.

Sports fans love making comparisons between players past and present. Is LeBron like Mike? Does his cerebral passing game make him more like Magic? He’s built like the Mailman and is a triple double threat like the Big O.

For mine there is one player who LeBron reminds me of more than any other. A player who could shoot the three (albeit inconsistently) and loved setting up teammates. A player who could rebound the ball, take the ball down the floor and launch a vicious dunk on a hapless opponent. A player who relished the chance to lock down his opposite number, and redefined his position with his all round abilities.

Scottie Pippen.

Before you spit out your hazelnut latte and begin furiously typing a response starting with ‘Dear Mr. D#ckhead...” hear me out.

I’m not saying LeBron is as good as Pippen. If that were the case I wouldn’t have written this piece and you wouldn’t be wasting valuable work time reading it.

The problem is that LeBron is wired like Scottie, but his natural abilities make him so much better than everyone else.

Pippen was more than capable of carrying a team, and has had some ridiculous stat lines to prove it, but he was always at his best doing everything to impact a game. Score, defend, assist and rebound, whilst letting Jordan make those game deciding plays.

Sound familiar?

Unfortunately for LeBron he’s like Pippen 2.0, or the Pippen T-1000. His natural instinct is to play the Pippen role, but he’s so much more dominant than every other player on the court that we want him to do more.  We want him to brutalise his opponents every night. Not because we’re blood thirsty Roman hordes in the Coliseum begging for Christian blood. But for the same reason a dog licks his balls.

Because he can.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

NRL seeking energetic and experienced CEO - apply within

First posted at http://www.theroar.com.au/2012/06/14/nrl-seeking-energetic-experienced-ceo/

The Australian Rugby League Commission, the newly established single controlling body and administrator of rugby league in Australia, is looking to recruit a proactive Chief Executive to lead the organisation into an exciting new era for the game.

This role is diverse, and the successful applicant will be confident, outgoing and positive with a high level of energy and drive. Under the intense scrutiny of a newly establish governing board and micromanaging chairman, you will be required to be the public face of the code, and strive to grow the game and to provide adequate funding for rugby league at all levels.

You will ideally possess a post graduate tertiary business qualification (MBA minimum), have played rugby league at an elite level (State of Origin minimum), have a successful history in business administration, and a network of influential and high net worth associates willing to invest in the game and support your endeavours.

Through your leadership, you will be responsible for determining and implementing the direction, goals and strategies as approved by the board, and for reporting outcomes against targets. 

A dynamic, proactive and confident go-getter, you will have demonstrated experienced in:

Contract negotiation: Capacity to successfully negotiate a complex new television rights agreement with multiple stakeholders that exceeds the value of an agreement negotiated by a rival code, and ultimately secures the medium to long term financial viability of all clubs that are otherwise haemorrhaging money and have no sustainable revenue stream;
Viral marketing: Extensive knowledge of social media platforms and applications, including Facebook and Twitter, with a particular focus on the prompt removal of online images depicting sexual activity between players and canines before they go viral;
PR and media relations: Capability to appropriately manage relationships with the mass media, in particular a global print news conglomerate that has a vested financial interest in the game and employs a collection of hack journalists who react with hyperbole to every issue in the game and continually promote their own agenda;
Advanced statistics and actuarial studies: Capacity to decipher intricate financial records and statements to ensure cheating and thieving clubs from south of the border don’t keep ‘ghost’ accounts that ultimately lead to premierships despite exceeding the substantially undervalued salary cap;
Cultural and linguistic diversity: Recognise the diverse nature of the organisations stakeholders and fan-base, with a specific focus on supervising the vast cohort of rednecks and hillbillies from north of the border in a sensitive and appropriate manner;
Expansion: Successfully deceive hapless North Sydney fans into believing the organisation is supportive of the Central Coast Bears initiative while identifying opportunities to expand the game beyond the East coast;
Good global citizenship: Ability to educate employees on good global citizenship, and institute a process of change management that successfully reduces instances of public drunkenness, public urination, public defecation, drunken disorderly behaviour, drink driving, physical abuse of sponsors, lewd sexual behaviour, brawling and anything Willie Mason might do.

Salary will be negotiated in accordance with experience and qualifications. 

For further information on this role or for a position description, please visit www.NRL.com.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

$380,000 for a watch!!!

Courtesy of AFP and smh.com.au

Rafael Nadal has had a 300,000 euro ($380,000) luxury watch stolen from the Paris hotel where he stayed with his parents during the French Open.

Nadal's parents noticed that the watch, which was on loan from luxury watchmaker Richard Mille, had disappeared from their room in a hotel in Paris's upscale eighth arrondissement and reported it stolen, a police source said.

French newspaper reports said the company had lent Nadal the watch for the French Open, which the Spanish tennis sensation won for a record seventh time, beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

I don't know what's more confusing:

1. A watch could cost $380,000
2. Someone would loan out a $380,000 watch
3. A multimillionaire who just pocketed $1.6 million in prize money needs to borrow a watch
4. You are a multimillionaire, you have borrowed a $380,000 watch, and you leave it in your hotel room

Euro pain in the Polkraine; The Secret diary of Wayne Rooney

It’s been a whirlwind week as the English team arrives in Krakow to prepare for Euro 2012. Wayne goes to his first training session, tries some local cuisine and fights with John Terry...

Checked into our hotel. Flight was ok. Killed time playing cards with Jones, Young and Welbeck, but Gary Neville kept heading to the back of the plane, hounding us to sing ‘Glory, Glory, Man United’. He never quits. Found out that I’ll be rooming with Jack Butland. Jack fucking Butland! I had to call the Gaffer to check he was in the squad. I thought he was there to clean the room. At least I’m not with John Terry. On the team bus he kept chirping on about winning the Champions League, until Neville yelled out ‘missed your penalty’ and ran to the front of the plane to hide next to the Gaffer.

Just finished our first training session. The Gaffer keeps calling me Wayne Wooney which pisses me off. Normally I can’t understand a word Fergie says. His thick Scottish brogue mixed with Johnny Walker makes him sound like a drunken Scot. But at least he gets my name right. The Gaffer wants us to experience local culture so we’re heading out for dinner tonight. Neville wants to sit next to me at the restaurant. I tell him we should sit apart so Colleen doesn’t get jealous. She might have gotten over the granny and the crack whore, but if she sees me eating with Neville she’ll rip my balls off. He’s not happy, but wants to share a dessert after. Bloody hell, forgot to pack my Rogaine.  Need to buy some tomorrow otherwise the lads might notice my hair isn’t natural. I wonder what’s Polish for Rogaine.

Feel like crap. Ate too many pierogi last night. Good thing I packed some cans of beans and ham for emergencies. The waitress said I was shaped like a pierogi which got everyone laughing. Bastards. Even the Gaffer joined in, calling me Piewogi Wooney. Henderson kept sniggering and muttering piewogi under his breath until I told him I’d give him a Manchester kiss. He didn’t get it so I told him it’s like a Liverpool kiss only it’s a winner. That shut him up.

Training went for hours. The Gaffer had us crossing the ball into the box, but Stewart Downing kept kicking straight at the first defender or out of bounds. We all had to wait until he got it right. Frickin useless.  Neville yelled out that all United players can cross the ball. The Gaffer sent him off to cut up some owanges. Neville told me he’d save the biggest orange for me.

Got into a fight with Terry today. He was walking around the change room butt naked except for a white pointy hood. Ashley’s Cole and Young weren’t impressed. Wait till I tweet Rio with that one. JT bought a replica Germany shirt so if they win he can still head onto the pitch in full kit to celebrate. What a dickhead. Then he starts asking me why I won’t undress, making a really big show in front of everyone. He even tried ripping my shirt off. I told him where to go and stormed off. I couldn’t let them see the ‘Toffee for Life’ tattoo on my chest.

Training again, and spent most of the time chasing down passes from Gerrard, Henderson and Downing. No wonder King Kenny looked like he was taking a massive dump all last season. He should be happy he got the arse. Fergie would have a stroke if we passed like that. God I wish Scholes was here. I scored a killer goal though. We’re running drills and the Gaffer yells ‘Have a cwack Wooney!’ I curled it past Hart from about 40 yards out. Neville got so excited he started convulsing and kissing the United badge under his England tracksuit.

Going to hit the all you can eat buffet downstairs with Andy Carroll. The Gaffer told him he’s not playing tomorrow so we’re going to see who can eat the most kielbasa. Andy’s a tosser, but at least I’ll get a few hours peace from Neville, thank Christ. He’s been a vegan ever since Beckham stopped eating meat.

We drew 1-1 with France. Joleon Lescott scored and screamed ‘City’ when he ran to the bench to celebrate. Asshole. Everyone’s happy with the point, but I thought we were pretty shite. The French are weak as piss. I would have kicked the crap out of them. The team’s heading out, but I’m going to stay in and read more of ‘The Hunger Games’. The main character, Katniss Everdeen, is just like me. Strong, independent, and she can do everything singlehandedly. Damn…Neville’s at the door. He wants to go to the movies to watch ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’. I need to hide under the bed until he racks off. I’ll write again tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Euro Polkraine Preview: The Final Act

In the final part to this less than comprehensive preview of Euro Polkraine, we examine the potential highlights, lowlights and downlights of the greatest sporting tournament in the world…at least until the evil Galactic forces of UEFA kills it in four years time.

Major tournaments always throw out some tantalising match-ups, and Euro Polkraine is no different. Italy vs. Spain, England vs. France, Portugal vs. Germany, Greece vs. Polan…sorry I got carried away…offer the prospect of exhilarating football. But the most mouth watering opening round encounter is definitely Germany vs. Holland. It’s a juicy game on so many different levels, but what excites me most is the MMA style kicking Bastian Schweinsteiger is going to hand out to Arjen Robben for that penalty miss (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4vXq-Q2AC68&feature=related) in the Champions League final. The look on Schweinsteiger’s face when he realised Robben bottled it was simply priceless. Like Luke Skywalker when he realises Vadar is his father, a contorted mixture of pain and hatred. Good luck Arjen. Payback’s a real bitch.

It’s a Euro tradition that one Eastern European midfielder will scintillate with a handful of sexy goals, leading his team to upset wins on route to a surprise semi final appearance. Inevitably this leads to a high profile club, always from the Premier League, buying the player with an offer so high they could wipe out Sierra Leone’s foreign debt.  As confident as the captain of the Titanic on his maiden (only) voyage, he sets sail for his new club and enjoys a brief honeymoon period. Until a Lee Cattermole special sends him crashing back to Earth, quicker than Charlie Sheen after a Tuesday night bender. Invariably the player is then shipped quickly back behind the Iron Curtain, only to be spoken of in hushed tones like an urban legend.

With Ukraine, Poland, Russia and the Czech Republic represented, candidates for the inaugural Karel Poborsky (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ux0v4yzHgEw) Award for Overhyped Transfer to England are plenty. My tip is Oleksandr Aliyev (Ukraine), who’ll crack in a couple of free kicks from 35 yards that get Fergie harder than a federal member of parliament in a whorehouse.

For a number of countries the hopes and dreams of a nation rest on the shoulders of one talented individual. The Portuguese pray at the altar of Ronaldo, while Lewandowski leads the line for Poland. England’s (limited) hopes rest with Andy Carroll (all the UK readers just threw up in unison). That is at least until Wayne Rooney is released from maximum security suspension.

Picture the following scene: After drawing their opening games against France and Sweden, England enter their final game needing victory against host nation Ukraine. Andy Carroll has been lumbering his way around the penalty box like a Biggest Loser contestant on route to the next weigh in leaving Woy Hodgson no option other than to call on Rooney, who has been sitting on the sidelines for 180 minutes, steaming with pent up aggression.

Rooney takes the field pumping with adrenaline, like Ben Johnson in Seoul. He’s snarling at his teammates and salivates so much the referee is forced to wear gumboots lest foot rot sets in. The whistle blows and Rooney races around the field like a Tasmania Devil, limbs flying akimbo in a rabid and rancid fury. He takes pots shots at goal like the British naval bombardment of the Falklands. But the keeper and woodwork keep his best efforts at bay. Time is ticking away, and under pressure to create something magical, Rooney starts tackling in a wild frenzy, winning the ball on every occasion. First he slides into the inept Stewart Downing, bundling him into advertising boards. He leaps over Jermaine Defoe to win back possession, and intercepts another wayward pass from Scott Parker. Rooney is committed to keep the ball away from those standing in the way of English success. In a final act of desperation Rooney barges into Steven Gerrard, earning himself a red card. England is eliminated, and Rooney returns to his homeland disgraced. 

The Shakespearean tragedy is complete.

Some safety advice before the Euro journey commences, avoid watching Greece at all costs. They’re not the only team capable of parking the bus, but their bus is the size of J-Lo’s arse. You might be able to sit through a half without contemplating self mutilation to end the pain, but anything more than that will have you reaching for the spoons to dig out your own eyes.

Finally, let’s hope Euro Polkraine can deliver some magic like its predecessors.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-J_DwsO9bIY

Enjoy, or as they say in Polkraine, baw się dobrze!

Euro Polkraine Preview Part III

In Part III of the Euro Polkraine Preview we take a look at the teams in Groups C & D

GROUP C. Cigarettes, Italian suits, shifty bribes and one very sexy girl

Croatia: What’s the over/under on Croatian fans contracting chronic breathing difficulties as a direct result of second hand smoke emitting from the technical area? Considering Slaven Bilic puffs away like Don Draper on speed, the odds have got be evens right?  
Italy: When questioned about the matching fixing scandal that has rocked Italy (not for the first time!) Coach Cesare Prandelli indicated he would have no problem if his side was barred from Polkraine. “To be perfectly honest I’d rather spend my summer on the Amalfi coast with George Clooney,” he said. “The fashion in Ukraine is so 80’s, the pasta tastes like cardboard, and Polish wine tastes like fermented potatoes. Polkraine sounds like a horrible, uncultured place.”     

Rep. of Ireland: Giovanni Trapattoni has spent his time at the helm moulding the Irish in the image of Italian footballers past and present. John O’Shea wears silk boxers, Damien Duff sports a girlie headband, Robbie Keane was spotted driving an Alfa, and his striking partner Kevin Doyle is taking lessons from Pippo Inzaghi on the art of excessive and annoying over-celebrating. Meanwhile Trap has called Fabio Grosso into training camp for a high intensive simulation on the art of simulation. Finally Richard Dunne has been caught practising the dark art of slipping an envelope under the table. Trap is confident his team can buy a win...figuratively speaking of course.

Spain: Before 2008 football was fun, a more innocent time, when the talented Spaniards were perennial losers. Nothing was more enjoyable than watching ‘experts’ make the obvious prediction that ‘this will be Spain’s year’, only to watch them (predictably) fall short of the mark. Pre-2008 Spain was Andy Murray before Andy was Andy Murray. Now the footballing world is topsy-turvy as Spain gun for an (unprecedented) third consecutive major trophy. Beset by injuries to key players (Villa & Puyol), Spain will have to rely of the cunning and guile of Miss Nando Torres to defend their title.   

TIP: Spain (always an obvious pick) to progress, along with my big upset Republic of Ireland...on the back of a 1-0 win and two nil all draws that puts the collective population of Polkraine to sleep but increases the global sale of Guinness exponentially.

GROUP D. John Terry, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the French. Is this Euro 2012 or the Federation of Worldwide Wankers International Convention?

England: So many issues, so little time: the Rooney suspension; the Ferdinand omission; the Barry and Cahill injuries; Woy and the Liverpudlians; the hilarious comparisons to Greece 2004. Yet nothing looms larger than the spectre of racism that hangs over Polkraine. Sol Campbell has raised legitimate fears that ethnic minorities will be targeted with abuse during the tournament. Let’s just hope the FA and Roy Hodgson do the right thing and tell John Terry to keep his opinions to himself.   

France: The French saunter into Polkraine riding the crest of an 18 game undefeated streak, making them the hottest team in Europe. Usually France is hounded by stories jealousy, greed, corruption, a major dummy spit and at least one unpaid prostitute...or was that last night’s episode of Revenge?

Sweden: Sweden’s hopes rest on the broad shoulders of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. I love Zlatan. He’s the Steven Seagal of world football...big and burly with great skills and an attitude in serious need of adjustment. If Zlatan had his own aftershave it would smell just like Zlatan, the overwhelming scent of overconfidence. Unfortunately for Zlatan, as enjoyable as Seagal’s tippy, tappy, grabby, pissy little hand wrestle moves were, he could never match up against the likes of Arnie, Sly, Van Damme or Willis.

Ukraine: Welcome to Euro 2012, the unofficial Andriy Shevchenko testimonial, where all proceeds are donated to support the extravagant lifestyle of Sheva in retirement. And I thought Torres was the only multi-million dollar Chelsea bust who would feature in Polkraine. Seriously though, with the Czech Republic fielding Milan Baros, is it too late for Spain to call on Raul? If Italy recalls del Piero and England wheel out Teddy Sheringham (and his colostomy bag), we can field a geriatric team.                              

TIP: France’s fabulous form continues. England to raise the hopes of sunburned Brits worldwide by qualifying for the next round, before exiting on penalties.

We’re going into EXTRA TIME...Part IV of this III part preview coming soon!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dissecting a shocking week in league

It’s been a shocking week in the world of rugby league. Some might say that the result was inevitable, bound to happen sooner rather than later. But the timing has definitely caught everyone by surprise.  

For months now, probably longer, there has been a real disconnect between the suits upstairs and the people on the ground. Head scratching decisions have been made, with little rhyme or reason.  Money was been wasted. Fingers have been pointed with lame excuses offering little in the way of consolation for such poor performance.

Real leadership, leadership you can believe in, has been lacking.  

Talk to Joe Footy on the street and he’ll tell you that something had to give and the status quo just couldn’t be maintained. A new sense of urgency and enthusiasm was vital if this ailing ship was to be saved before hitting rock bottom.

And it happened this week.

Honestly I don’t know what motivated the change. I don’t have the answers. Has this been a prolonged build up, or does the suddenness of these events reveal a knee jerk reaction?  

I just know that when I received the update that the Eels beat the Sharks Monday night, coming from behind no less, I was absolutely gob smacked. Surely rugby league wasn’t ready for such a staggering result!

In other league news, NRL CEO David Gallop resigned this week.