The below is a preview of Edition 02 of MonstaSport Magazine, available now via – Magzter
“We’ll be bigger and stronger come February”
Interview Conducted January 4th
Monstasport: How’s the injury coming along, can we expect to see you back soon?
Brendon: Yeah really good. I’m back running now. It’s not so much the shoulder anymore, it’s more the fitness. So I’m just working really hard to build up my fitness. Due to the Asian Cup break, it’s looking like at this stage I’ll be back sometime, hoping early February.
Monstasport: Speaking of the Asian Cup, how do you think we (The Socceroos) will go?
Brendon: I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people, although there is a lot of pressure on our national side at the moment to produce results. I think we’re going to see the best from our national team, and the boys are going to stand up, and make it to the final. That’s my prediction anyway.
I’m feeling confident. If you look at the games we played at the world cup, I thought against the opposition we were up against, we played exceptionally well. We have to close up our defence a little but for this Asian Cup. Hopefully that has been tweaked. I feel that in attack we have a lot of speed and pace and it’ll be dangerous to the opposition.
Monstasport: Do you think Tomi Juric will play much footy during the tournament?
Brendon: It’s hard to say at this point. Obviously it’s a huge competition and basically its Tomi’s first big competition with the Socceroos, so with limited experience, and his age at a huge tournament like this, I think he’ll be coming in off the bench. Either way, it’s huge for Tomi, it’s a great opportunity, one he deserves, and we all at the Wanderers are very proud of Tomi and Spira for their selection in the side.
Monstasport: What was the difference in atmosphere between the two legs of the Asian Champs League final?
Brendon: (laughs) It was amazing. At Parramatta we’ve got a very vocal crowd and we love playing in front of them, but over in Al Halal it was a whole other level. 63,000 or 65,000 in the stadium were inside the stadium an hour and a half to two hours before kick off.
It was unbelievable, and an experience I will never forget. We could not hear each other from two metres away, talking to each other because the crowds were that loud and their chants were all in sync. When you have so many people saying the same thing, it’s deafening. It was just an amazing experience to see that crowd.
Monstasport: When did the guys start believing they could actually win the Champions League?
Brendon: Well I think as we progressed through the group stages we knew what we were up against. I mean we went through some difficult times in the group stages. We lost our first game three-one. To come back from a 3-1 loss in the opening game and then overcome so many difficult hurdles through the group stage, I mean we overcame some fantastic hurdles that we probably didn’t believe ourselves we would do.
Once we progressed through the group stage we found that belief that we could be serious contenders for the ACL. So I think after the group stage, the boys really started to believe.
Monstasport: It’s been a tough start to the A League campaign to say the least. Can the squad turn it around and still make the finals, or is it all about damage limitation from here?
Brendon: It’s definitely been a frustrating first 11 rounds. It’s not a pretty position to be in. Hearing that there’ll be changes in January. I have no idea who is coming in, or who is leaving. We’ve got no option but to turn things around, otherwise we are in a sour spot at the moment, and unless we turn things around very quickly, it’s going to be a season to forget that’s for sure.
We have the Asian Cup coming up, which is probably great for us at the moment that we can we can regroup during the break. Get some good training in and be together. I think we’re heading off for a training camp some-time in January. I think this break will do us well and we’ll be bigger and stronger come February and hopefully turn things around and push for a finals spot, which is probably the best we can go for this season.
Monstasport: Having played for both Sydney sides, how heated is the rivalry between the fans and players of both clubs?
Brendon: (laughs) Yeah look it’s very heated and passionate, and it’s the best thing for football in the country. We always needed something like this. Every derby has been has been unbelievable and a great spectacle for A-League fans.
It’ll only get bigger and better. It’s great signs for Australian football that we can produce such a spectacle for football in this country like that.
Monstasport: You’ve scored some amazing goals over your career. Do you have a personal favourite?
Brendon: That’s a bit of a tough one. I scored goal of the year in the A League when I use to play for Sydney FC and that sticks out, but I think my ACL goal against Sanfrecce Hiroshima takes the cake for me.
We were down and out, we basically had to win two-nil at home and reverse a three-one deficit, after a grand final loss. For me the character that the team showed that day was the true Wanderers.
For me to score with five minutes to go, to progress through to the quarter finals of the Asia Champions League. Ya know, I never even thought I would be playing in the Asian Champions League, and to actually score the goal at that moment with five minutes to go, to put us through will always be a special memory for me.
Monstasport: How much of an honour was it to be nominated and win the Illawarra sports person of the year award?
Brendon: Very proud. It’s a proud moment. I’m a proud Wollongong boy and it’s a great breeding ground for a lot of great athletes. To have the people vote on my side, is for me, I’m over the moon. It’s a big award for me, I don’t know if other people look at it the same way but to me, it’s respect from the fans and the people voted for me. I’m delighted to win it.
Monstasport: How important is the proposed Stadium expansion at Pirtek for the club and the A-League?
Brendon: It’s very important because we have a lot of fans on a waiting list to buy memberships. It’s definitely not big enough for our club. After all our success in our last three years, we are now a big club. With a big club you need a big stadium.
The expansion will be good. I don’t know if it will be enough. I think they’re talking about three to five thousand seats, so it’s not a huge expansion, one that in the future probably needs to be bigger again.
Monstasport: The RBB (Wanderers active support), how does it rate against the support you have enjoyed across the world?
Brendon: The RBB have set a benchmark for all supporters in Australian football. Their support is second to none. They turn up at away games in huge numbers, and set a great example for other fans to go out and support their team.
I think they’ve lifted other fan bases throughout the A-League, which again is great for Australian football. They have to take some credit for their remarkable efforts and the work they have done.
Monstasport: Lyall Gorman, how important was he in setting up the Wanderers?
Brendon: I think we’ve seen in our first three years is that he is an unbelievable business man. What he created, along with everybody else at the Wanderers was just remarkable. To go from scratch and in two years make two grand finals, win a minor premiership and an Asian Champions League is beyond anyone’s dreams.
It just shows the job that he did and now he’s moved onto the Sharks. He’s very smart as the Sharks are down and out, he’ll look to bring them up, which he’s best at.
Follow Brendon On Twitter – @BSantalab
MonstaSport Magazine – January Edition Out NOWby Daniel
The below is a preview of Edition 01 of MonstaSport Magazine, available now via – Magzter
Download the magazine formatted article Here
Top 10 New Faces Of The NRL
With Anthony Minichello, Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess leaving the game at the end of 2014, the NRL, and Channel 9, will be looking for a new face of the game. We at Monstasport have been nice enough to do the work for them. Here is our ten suggestions for the next face of the game – Justin Davies
In recent seasons the ‘face of the game’ has been a poisoned chalice for the National Rugby League (NRL) players who took up the mantle. The exodus of talent from the code in the last year has left the position vacant for someone to step up. As a service for the community, here at MonstaSport, we have provided a list for the NRL upper echelon to peruse.
To outline some of the criteria for the nominated ‘face of the game’. No prior criminal convictions, hasn’t already had a shot at the title and lastly that the player has not been involved in any major off field incidents.
1. Shaun Johnson
The young halfback for the Warriors and New Zealand has recently won the four nations with his country but had won the hearts of many young female admirers some time ago. His baby-faced looks and charming demeanour would be a hit with most fans and a choice much like Minichiello last season that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows.
Photo By Chris O’Dea
2. Daly Cherry-Evans
Halfback for the Sea Eagles and all round good bloke, Cherry-Evans hasn’t strayed out of line since he burst into the NRL in 2011. His charm and down to earth nature would lead him to being a natural choice to succeed Anthony Minichiello for this season.
3. Trent Merrin
There has been quite some love for the backline players thus far so it’s time for the big boppers up front to have their due. Merrin stood out in a lacklustre Dragons line-up last season and brings some personality to interviews whenever he is put in front of the mike. The interchange forward also has Sally Fitzgibbon on his arm which doesn’t hurt his stock.
4. James Tedesco
An odd choice from the outset but Tedesco would be a choice for the persistence he has shown in coming back from multiple knee injuries. Tedesco may not be first choice for 2014’s face but the young fullback will take the mantle in the near future, if he can remain injury free and keep up the form he has shown.
5. John Sutton/Mrs Sutton
Rabbitohs and premiership winning captain, John Sutton will be an obvious candidate for the title but it was his mother, who provided the quote of the season at the Grand Final breakfast. Her ‘ripping and tearing’ quote will live on in rugby league folklore, as will son John’s candid post match interview. Sutton would be the the hard working boy come good story that people would gravitate towards.
6. Boyd Cordner
Last season had the self-proclaimed ‘mumma’s boy’ Anthony Minichiello, so this season – the NRL could follow down a similar path with the country boy in young Boyd. Cordner has broken into a competitive Roosters forward pack but was a part of the New South Wales set up in 2013. Cordner, much like Tedesco, would be a left field choice but would be safe in the regard of not getting into off-field trouble.
7. Trent Hodkinson
Canterbury and Origin winning halfback, Trent Hodkinson has achieved quite a bit in the last few years since he was unceremoniously dumped to NSW Cup a few years back. He worked his way back into contention and has led the Bulldogs and NSW to higher honours since being back in first grade. Hodkinson could provide the classic story of overcoming adversity to make it back into the top grade and is a recognised figure due to the Bulldogs success over the last few seasons.
Photo By Chris O’Dea
8. Jamie Soward
Often described a sook and sulky, Soward was a pariah when he left the NRL for London in 2013 but since his return to Penrith, the diminutive half has won quite a few plaudits from those who were chastising him during his time at St George. Soward would be an ideal way to show young children of all ages that you can succeed despite disadvantages and setbacks.
9. Corey Parker
The evergreen forward for the Brisbane Broncos has had a career renaissance in the last few years. His larrikin style would work well with NRL fans and give Parker a broader spectrum of support besides those who reside in the Sunshine state. It would be a left field choice but Parker hasn’t been involved in any incidents since his resurgence.
10. Andrew Voss
Our last choice is one right from the toolbox, Andrew Voss, who has earned a cult following with his game calls from New Zealand. Since the players continue to get into strife on and off the field maybe it’s time a commentator had a go at being the face of the game. Voss brings excitement and passion into all his calls and would surely liven up any function he was being presented in.
MonstaSport Magazine – December Edition Out NOWby Daniel
The below is a preview of Edition 01 of MonstaSport Magazine, available now via – Magzter
Download the magazine formatted article Here
Nowhere but Up! Up! for Cronulla
After a horror 2014 the Sharks have turned things around off the field. Sharks fans will be hoping the club can replicate this on field. – Daniel Nichols
2014 – A year to forget
Unfortunately for fans of the club, 2014 simply was not the year of the shark, in fact it was the exact opposite.
The club, who played finals footy in 2013 finished with the dreaded wooden spoon after a season that can only be described as the worst season possible.
The injury toll suffered by the club was unprecedented. The club played large parts of the season without Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Andrew Fifita, Todd Carney (prior to his release), Anthony Tupou, Beau Ryan, Bryce Gibbs and John Morris, just to name a few.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
If you’re like me, if you ever hear another ASADA related headline, it will still be far too soon. The investigation ended with five players being suspended, meaning that the squads for the final few games were almost unrecognisable to even the biggest fan of the club.
I’m sure the Sharks faithful don’t need further reminding of problems suffered throughout the season . One thing is for sure, there’s only one way for the club to head in 2014, and that is up.
Young Guns Emerge
It seems almost ridiculous to suggest that anything positive came out of 2014 for the Sharks.
However if it had not been or the horrific injury toll, the club may not have witnessed the debuts of Nu Brown (19), Valentine Holmes (19) and Jacob Gagan (21).
Holmes, a recent young Kangaroo, is perhaps the most promising youngster to grace the Shire since a young winger by the name of Mat Rogers.
Jacob Gagan, whose first try at NRL level broke a three week scoring drought for the Sharks, posted five tries in his seven games.
Coincidently, or perhaps not, each of three games in which Gagan crossed for four pointers, the Sharks went on to win.
Young Nu Brown was thrown into the deep end when chosen to replace Todd Carney at five-eighth.
Brown, who worked behind a largely dominated forward pack, certainly performed admirably before his season ending injury.
All three were signed to multiyear contract extensions. The club also extended the stay of 2014’s top try scorer and member of the New Zealand Four Nations squad Sosaia Feki (23).
In other re-signing news, the club was able to hold off advances from the Roosters and South Sydney to re-sign stand in and future captain Wade Graham.
Graham was arguably one of the Shark’s best last season and his long-term deal paves the way for the 24 year old to become an extremely important part of the club.
Despite originally signing with the Bulldogs, Andrew Fifita ultimately ended up penning a new upgraded, multi-year contract with the side that turned him into a test and Origin star.
Andrew’s brother David has also inked a new two-year deal. He may be called upon with far more regularity in 2015 given that the likes of Vave and Gibbs have left the club.
Here Come The Reinforcements
Even with the emergence of a few younger players, it was obvious to fans and officials of the club that new names were required to strengthen the squad.
In former Dally M medallist Ben Barba the Sharks have a genuine match winner. Barba brings an immeasurable X Factor that should compliment the solid game of Jeff Robson in the halves.
Returning coach Shane Flanagan has gone on record as saying Barba will be used in the halves after Michael Gordon’s brilliant efforts in 2014 at fullback.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
Although this may mean Nu Brown may be relegated to a bench spot or even the NSW Cup, Brown still has a bright future at the club, perhaps in the number seven as a replacement after the expected retirement of Robson.
Former Origin number nine Michael Ennis has arrived at the club after a signing a two-year deal. His presence will be vital in providing experience and aggression after the retirement of John Morris and the departures of Michael Lichaa and Isaac De Gois.
Although the club lost promising young gun Lichaa to the Dogs, the extremely experienced Ennis will hold the post for two seasons which should allow former Australian Schoolboy hooker Bradley Deitz to develop his game.
Returning to the club after suffering home sickness during his time at the Warriors is Jayson Bukuya. The return of the 25 year old back rower is a much needed injection of youth within an aging forward pack. Saulala Houma has also bring brought in from the Roosters to add size and youth to the forward pack.
The Sharks, who have for years had an A grade forward pack without the backs to match, have taken to the player market to fix their problem area.
Former Shark Mitch Brown (27) has, as with Bukuya, returned to the club, and the Sharks will be hoping he brings his try scoring form with him. Brown scored 22 tries during his time with the Bulldogs, after scoring just eight during his last stint with his local side, the Sharks.
Joining Brown is former Dragon and New Zealand international Gerard Beale. The 24 year old’s should enjoy plenty of space behind the likes of Gallen and Fifita.
He and Brown will likely join fullback Michael Gordon at the back with either Feki, Holmes, Gordon or Leutele filling the other two positions.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
Another recruit who may factor in backline selection is 19 year old junior representative Jack Bird.
Bird, the star of the Dragons Holden Cup side, has played mainly back row for his new club’s local rivals, however he is far more likely to play in the centres, or off the bench for his new club if chosen in first grade.
Bird, who has represented NSW and Australia at multiple levels and partnered Valentine Holmes in the backline in the recent
test against the young Kiwis, is perhaps the best long term signing the Sharks have made in many years.
Former Canberra outside back Sami Sauiluma has also joined the club and may play some part during the season.
Samoan halfback Kyle Stanley and QLD Cup standout Todd Murphy have signed short term contracts with the club to add depth to the troublesome halves positions.
Development Full Steam Ahead
The club saving development of the Shark owned land is finally starting to take shape.
For those unaware of the plans, the new Woolooware Bay will provide the Sharks with millions over an extended time, which will not only ensure the financial security of the club but will also transform it into one of the game’s best financially positioned outfits.
Photo by Chris O’Dea
Work is set to begin soon, with apartments selling extremely well.
New Group CEO Appointed
Perhaps the best recruitment made this season has been in the form of former Wanderers and A League boss Lyall Gorman.
Gorman, who has been in the job less than a month has already engaged fans with two fan forums and has fan confidence at an all time high.
His amazing results at the helm of the newly created Wanderers and his passion for his new role show that the Sharks in the best possible hands.
He has always said that success is a team effort, although his pure presence gives confidence to others involved.
He is supported by a very capable and very passionate board, headed by Hoyts CEO Damien Keogh.
Return Of Flanagan
Perhaps the biggest plus heading into 2015 is the return of coach Shane Flanagan.
Somehow the embattled coach was able to not only keep his players minds on the job in the face of off-field pressures but he was able to lead the club to the second week of the finals.
Without Flanagan at the helm the Sharks struggled to match the fight they produced in 2012.
Former Dragons coach Steve Price has been signed as an assistant to the returning Flanagan. They will be joined by James Shepherd who did an admirable job in tough circumstances as stand in coach.
Future’s Bright In The Shire
The combination of clever recruitment, the emergence of young talent and the return of Flanagan will surely lead to improved results on field. The on going cash injection thanks to the development coupled with the appointment of the extremely successful and universally respected Lyall Gorman to CEO should ensure the club thrives off field.
2014 is set to be little more than an unfortunate footnote as the club moves forward.
2015 and is sure to see the club finally reach its potential thus leading to a bright future for those in black, white and blue.
MonstaSport Magazine – December Edition Out NOWby Daniel
Reports indicate that the Cronulla Sharks will appoint Lyall Gorman as their new club CEO on Tuesday morning. This is arguably the best signing the Sharks have made since they welcomed a certain young, former Eels second rower to the club.
The impending appointment of Gorman, the man credited with creating the incredibly successful Western Sydney Wanderers brand, is a sign that the Sharks are dead serious in achieving success both on and off the park.
Gorman, who is also a former head of the A League, replaces former CEO Steve Noyce, whose position was made redundant by the Sharks board due to a management restructure.
I spoke with Mr Noyce during his tenure earlier this season for around half an hour. Even though we disagreed on many aspects of the season to date and the vision of the club, I could never doubt his passion for the club and its players.
Whether or not you were a fan of Noyce, there is little doubt that the Sharks, after a horror 2014, needed fresh blood and fresh ideas.
In Gorman, the Sharks have signed one of the best sporting administrators in modern time. His success at the Wanderers is absolutely incredible considering the club is still only its third season of existence.
The Sharks have enjoyed a successful off-season player movement wise. They have added former Origin hooker Michael Ennis and former Dally M medallist Ben Barba, amongst a host of new faces, proving there are plans in motion to improve on field.
Gorman’s appointment sends a very strong message that things off field are also going to take a turn for the better.
Reports earlier this season linked Gorman both the Brisbane Lions and Carlton CEO positions, while recently he was linked to a job within Racing NSW.
His appointment is truly a coup for the struggling Sharks, who have seemingly taken every step required to ensure 2015 and beyond is as far removed from 2014 as possible.
Since returning to the club, Shark’s coach Shane Flnnagan has spoken about overhauling the club’s culture. Gorman, who handled both the Danny Vukovic and Brendon Santalab cases with dignity, is just the man to oversee said cultural change.
Gorman has an incredible reputation as one of the best sporting administrators in the country, and his presence is NOTHING but a positive for the black, white and blue.
2015 is shaping up as quite the year for the Sharks. If the squad plays to its potential, and Gorman can work his magic, 2014 will be nothing but an afterthought.
For more on the Sharks in 2015, be sure to look out for “Nowhere but Up! Up! Cronulla in 2015” in Monstasport Magazine’s first edition, out December 15th.
Things may be about to become even better for the Sharks, as premiership and 4 nation winning centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall has been heavily linked with the club. His signing, which would be subsidised by the Roosters, would complete a formidable backline for the Shire club.
At only 26 years of age, SKD has done it all, and would add a serious attacking threat in the centres at the Sharks. His potential partnership with either Gagan, Holmes or Brown would be absolutely lethal.by Daniel
For those who have not yet heard, the international Golden Boot candidates have been narrowed down to just six names – Sam Burgess, James Graham, Greg Inglis, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich and last year’s winner, Johnathan Thurston.
With all due respect Bromwich and Johnson, although both have had outstanding seasons, are probably long shots when it comes to claiming the award.
Johnson was amazing at times during the season, and was probably the player of recent Four Nations tournament, but he had too many games during the season where he simply wasn’t a major factor.
Bromwich has a career best year but I don’t see him producing ‘big plays’ in terms of highlight reel passes, kicks or show and goes, to rate up there with the other four.
Feasibly any of the other four could win the award.
If a gun were held to my head, or my house was placed on the line, my money would be on Sam Burgess taking out the award.
As much as people, mainly non South Sydney fans to be honest, cringe as Russel Crowe and the majority of the Channel 9 commentary team fawn over the English superstar, there can be absolutely no denying his ability as a footballer.
For the record, I believe Greg Inglis to be the most completely footballer to play the game. If he were to win the award, I would not be at all surprised.
Burgess, man of the match in the Grand Final, exits the game to play Rugby Union, and in my view do so with the Golden Boot in his possession.
When the chips were down for South Sydney, Burgess was the man there to take the tough hit up or make that physical tackle. He scored ten tries in his 23 regular season games, which as a forward is an amazing achievement.
To put this effort into perspective, he outscored the Sharks top try scorer Sosaia Feki, who scored nine on the wing in 20 games.
He also chimed in for an astonishing 3800+ metres with the ball. Greg Inglis, from fullback where he has plenty of space to rack up metres from kick returns, only made 3279.
I doubt anyone could begrudge Burgess the award.
I have to admit tho, if I were one of the judges, I’d be very tempted to give the nod to co-Dally M medallist in Johnathan Thurston.
Thurston, at times, single handily won games off his own backs for the Cowboys. It’s no coincidence that the Cowboys positive run of results coincided with their superstar half’s return to form.
He has made a habit of making players around him look far better than they otherwise have.
Thurston could bag his second straight Golden Boot, and add it to his growing collection of individual honours, but hand on heart, and many may disagree, Sam Burgess was the man in 2014.
I wonder why the man Thurston shared the Dally M medal with, Jarryd Hayne, was not included in the short list. I would have thought he was a near certainty given his heroics for both club and state in 2014.
I almost can’t believe we will be treated to live Sunday afternoon footy next season. Unless of course you live in QLD, which NRL boss Dave Smith has often referred to as the heartland of the game. The big catch is the 4:15 time slot, which will mean, for the midseason rounds, games will finish in the cold of the night. Baby steps.by Daniel
This is a question I have addressed in the past, but after the fallout from Paul Gallen’s heat of the moment tweet during the week, I think it’s more than worth revisiting.
For professional athletes, not just in Rugby League, but across all sports, is social media worth the risk?
In this modern day and age, a comment can reach thousands, or even hundreds of thousands, within seconds thanks to twitter, facebook and the like.
A heat of the moment comment can cause irreversible damage before the person who posted said comment has time to even delete something they then deem unsuitable.
How many of us have woken up on a Sunday morning after a big Saturday night on the drink, looked through our posts from the night before and regretted posting something?
For those of us with around a thousand followers, mostly of like minded fans, that’s not a huge concern. For professional athletes, who are followed by tens or hundreds of thousands of fans of differing opinions, the outcome can be very different.
I’m neither defending nor encouraging Gallen’s comments, but I’d think it’s fairly safe to guess that a fair few people out there have had choice words about their employer on social media.
The only difference is, they don’t follow, nor have thousands of eyes watching over every comment.
This past week’s comment was not the only time social media has made headlines for the wrong reasons.
Who could ever forget the unforgivable use Robbie Farah had to endure thanks to a coward hiding behind the anonymity of twitter?
I won’t give that pest the satisfaction of repeating the tone of his comments but those who remember will surely be just as disgusted as I am.
Every single day I see pot shots taken at players of a variety of sports, sent by those who know very well they can hide behind a profile that doesn’t contain any details.
Just today I read numerous threats of violence toward a member of the press for a simple opinion. For the record I didn’t agree with the opinion, but I hardly wish harm upon someone with a different stance than mine.
Is it really worth it for these players to have social media?
In some sports, social media is the best way to make fans aware of upcoming events. Boxers for instance use the avenue extremely well to promote fights, and build fan bases.
The ability to interact with fans, and banter with those who are playfully taking a dig, is a fun way to get your mind off the day to day grind.
I’ve spoken to players who read messages of encouragement after losses, or enjoy the interacting with fans after big wins.
Surely players should be able to partake in something that the everyday man or woman can enjoy, despite the bigger percentage of idiots looking to get a reaction?
I’d love to get some feedback on this. If you were a professional footballer, or member of any sport, would you persist with social media despite the drawbacks?
England’s Big Chance
If England are unable to beat a Kangaroos side missing the likes of Thurston, Gallen, Scott, Tamou, Myles and co, they might as well give it up.
The Kiwis were brilliant last Saturday Night and totally outclassed the understrength Roos, setting up a must win contest against England for the home side.
A loss for the Australian side would hardly be the end of the world, and would probably be good for international football, but a loss for England would surely hurt far more.
England have the players to worry the Roos, but will have to improve ten fold on their efforts against Samoa to do so.
For the life of me I still can’t understand Tim Sheens’ decision to play Robbie Farah off the bench in the Four Nations.
I’ve gone on file, and will once again do so, in saying that I am a big fan of Farah’s, but I don’t see the need for a specialist hooker when you have the ultimate 80 minute hooker in Cam Smith.
I understand Farah’s utility value, but surely a specialist second-rower with the ability to slot in at five-eighth or hooker would be a better option.
Greg Bird is in the run on squad and has played plenty of five-eight during his time so there’s no real need to play a specialist half off the bench either.
Since when are sides picked on the possibility of injury anyways?
Other Stories Of Interest
On Saturday November 22nd, from the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland, we will witness one of the most unique events in boxing, when eight of the best Cruiserweights from Australia and New Zealand do battle in the Super 8’s Tournament.
Although three fighters are yet to be announced, ‘team’ Australia will be represented by Daniel Ammann, Anthony Mccracken and the favourite to take out the crowd, Brad ‘Hollywood’ Pitt.
Of course the term ‘team’ Australia means very little, as this is of course a tournament and will see every man for himself.
For those who aren’t sure how the Super 8’s work, Brad summed it up perfectly: “The Super 8 is an eight-man cruiserweight knockout tournament. If you win you’re on to the next round and if you lose you’re out! Each round will be 3 explosive minutes”
As previously mentioned, Brad, who is looking to bounce back from the first defeat of his career at the hands of David Aloua, is the betting favourite to take out the crowd. His big-hitting, big power style is perfectly suited to short, sharp fights.
“There is a really good mixture of fighters but it doesn’t really concern me who is going in it” he said, with the usual laid back confidence he has become known for. “Yes, this kind of tournament really suits me. I am feeling very confident, but with any fight you just adapt, it’s all boxing.”
You have to wonder how the possibility of two further fights later in the night must affect the mentality of fighters entering the tournament. Is it smart to look for an early knockout to conserve energy for later fights?
When asked this very question, Pitt was straight to the point. “I’ll approach this like I do all my fights. When you start looking for the knock out they never come”.
Interestingly, as mentioned, Daniel Ammann is a common opponent of Pitt, and the man he last fought in David Aloua. Pitt knocked Ammann out in the second round of their contest in 2011. Ammann however, took a unanimous decision over Pitt’s conqueror in Aloua.
This sets up what could very possibly be the most intriguing matchup of the tournament, should of course both men meet. When asked whether he’d welcome a rematch with Ammann, Pitt was in no mood to play promoter.
“If I draw him I draw him, he’s in the tournament so I would be happy to fight him” he said.
There is a very real chance that the winner of the Super 8’s could meet the winner of another feature bout on the card between David Aloua and Daniel Baff. The winner of that possible matchup would likely be in a position to lineup a future World Title shot.
The prospect of an Aloua v Pitt rematch is something that has been discussed within boxing circles, and would certainly not look out of place headlining any card in the near future.
When pressed on the possibility of a rematch with the man who ended his undefeated streak as a professional, Pitt pulled no punches: “I’d love a re match. I think it will happen.” he said, adding “Not making excuses or taking anything away from David but I lost that fight 6 weeks before in training camp. He got lucky, but that’s boxing. I have learnt a lot from that fight.”
Due to an injury suffered in training camp, Pitt’s last fight was over seven months ago. He certainly won’t be using the injury as an excuse should he not get the job done in Auckland saying “it’s healed up perfect and making me feel stronger”.
The Super 8’s is sure to be an awesome occasion. With a talented crop partaking in the tournament, as well as a feature bout between the aforementioned Aloua and Braff, it’s one not to be missed. That’s not even taking into account the Heavyweight Main event between Shane Cameron and Kali Meehan.
With a big, and loud partisan crowd expected in Auckland, ‘Hollywood’ did not seem overly phased when asked how he would be received by the crowd: “Hopefully they warm to me when I start knocking a few people out!” he proclaimed.
The tournament promises to be an exciting, all action event, and will help shape the future of the Cruiserweight Division both within Australia and New Zealand.
Pitt, who has 12 knockouts from his 15 wins is the perfect candidate for the knockout style set up. We’re tipping a Pitt win in the final over a fellow Aussie.
We just hope Brad hasn’t signed on to be paid by the hour.
Other Stories Of Interest
Another day, another supposed ‘crisis’ in the Shire as much maligned CEO Steve Noyce was yesterday removed from his position at the club in what the Sharks are referring to as a ‘restructure’.
As it stands the Sharks currently don’t have a coach, a captain, or a CEO, through a variety of reasons. The media couldn’t slap the “Sharks In Turmoil” tag on the club quickly enough.
I for one don’t believe the Sharks are in turmoil.
The Sharks, who have had two incredibly tough seasons both on and off the field, may have been in turmoil since the ‘darkest day in sport’ press conference, but with players ready to return from suspensions and with coach Shane Flanagan about a week away from returning, one could argue the light at the end of the tunnel is finally shining.
There is absolutely no doubt that drastic measures had to be taken, and I applaud the Sharks board for doing their research, deciding on a restructure, and taking action.
For too long, fans of the Sharks have been promised new dawns, only for those news dawns to become false dawns.
The election of a new board was supposed to bring success both commercially and on field, but unfortunately they have had to spend more time dealing with negative headlines than moving forward thanks to the Asada issue.
Let’s make it clear right now, although the likelihood of civil action threatens to drag the Asada saga into a third year, the majority of the damage has been done.
Players are currently serving their suspensions and will return with a clean slate.
Last season the Sharks collected the dreaded wooden spoon. To come last, by so far, in a salary cap based competition, is quite frankly unacceptable.
Something needed to change, and it looks like that is exactly what is about to be implemented … much needed change.
I have been an open critic of the Sharks last season, to support a team for life only to see them fade away they did, quite frankly hurts, but I’ve made a vow to focus on the positives going forward.
Amongst the doom and gloom of 2014 were some good signs:
- The brightest young talent to feature at the club in many years in Valentine Holmes debuted in the top grade, showed signs of incredible potential, and was re-signed to a long-term contract.
- Jacob Gagan and Nu Brown also made their top grade debuts and performed admirably. Gagan and Holmes may form a deadly combination out wide outside the aforementioned Brown.
- The club signed the Dragons most promising Holden Cup player in Junior Kangaroo Jack Bird. The potential this youngster has is downright scary.
- Top try scorer Sosaia Feki has continued to improve, also signing a new deal at the club.
-Former Origin fullback Michael Gordon played his best football in many years, possibly in his career.
- The club managed to re-sign in demand prop Andrew Fifita.
The Sharks missed out on some serious talent in the player market, but have also secured some talent. Local junior Mitch Brown returns to the club a better player than he left, whilst former NSW hooker Michael Ennis should add some much needed experience to help aid a young backline develop.
The biggest plus however, is the fact that not once last season did the Sharks field their strongest possible line up.
Paul Gallen, Luke Lewis, Andrew Fifita, arguably three of the best players at the club, were unable to feature consistently due to injury and suspension.
Yes, the Sharks have not had a brilliant two seasons, but moving forward, the club is moving in a brighter position.
Currently linked with superstar Ben Barba, it looks as though the club has made its ambitions clear.
With memberships set to go on sale early next month, I hope we see youngsters Gagan, Holmes and Brown front and centre of any membership brochures beside established stars Gallen and Graham.
We all know that the Sharks are yet to win a premiership. We all know the club ‘won’ the wooden spoon last season. We all know that mistakes have been made.
It’s now time to look to the future.
With a bunch of new recruits on hand, and work to be done yet during the off-season, the side should be much stronger in 2015.
Michael Ennis is the 80 minute hooker the Sharks have been looking for going on a few seasons now.
Valentine Holmes, Jacob Gagan, Nu Brown and Jack Bird are genuine prospects, the likes the Sharks haven’t had in many years.
Sharks in turmoil just as a CEO was made redundant due to a restructure? As long suffering Sharks fans will tell you … this is nothin’!
The light at the end of the tunnel may be another season, two seasons, or five seasons away, but the fact is, there is light.
Other Stories Of Interest
With 2014 done and dusted, although the party remains in full swing in Redfern, attention has turned to 2015 and beyond.
Each and every side has dipped into the transfer market, some far more so than others of course. Teams such as the Sharks, Titans and Tigers have recruited in decent numbers, reflecting their need to overhaul their rosters to achieve success.
We have decided to take a look at what we consider to be the 10 biggest transfers heading from 2014 into 2015.
To clarify, the below isn’t just down to who are the best players being transferred, but more so the importance of each transfer for the future club’s needs etc.
For the purpose of this we haven’t considered rumoured transfers that the media have ‘confirmed’ are happening, we are only going off what is officially confirmed by each side.
Please let us know if you agree, as per usual we love the feedback. If possible, please click ‘like’ on the facebook page to keep up to date with any future features.
10. Matt Allwood (Raiders to Warriors)
Matt Allwood is not the biggest name amongst the offseason player movements, having played only a handful of first grade games in the nation’s capital, but he signing is a big one for the Warrior. Having lost Kevin Locke and with Dane Nielsen seemingly forgotten, the Warriors have an unsettled position available out wide.
Their Holden Cup side again enjoyed great success, and there are no shortage of options out wide, however the Warriors laid their cards on the table when they recruited the talented Canberra youngster. Allwood showed great promise during his time in Green and very well could be the man to partner Konrad Hurrell next season.
9. Blake Green (Wigan Warriors to Storm)
Blake Green went from fringe NRL first grader to a premiership winning half in Super League in a short space of time. Although there is no comparison quality wise between the competitions, enjoying success can do wonders to a player’s career.
Green is coming home to play in the number six at the Storm after the Melbourners struggled in their attempts to partner Cooper Cronk this season. Ben Hampton has been re-signed and looks like Green’s biggest challenger but Green should get the nod. If he fires as he does for Wigan, the Storm will be far improved for it. If he fails, it could mean the number six jersey is passed around for yet another season.
8. Jack Bird (Dragons to Sharks)
This may be a little left-field considering Bird is yet to play first grade, however the wraps on the youngster are huge. Having played representative football during his junior career, Bird has been recruited to join the youth movement at the Sharks. A young back rower who will likely play centre if he plays first grade early in the season, Bird has all the tools to become a star.
Dragons fans have taken to social media to express their frustrations over allowing Bird to move to their local rivals, which is probably the best sign of a players ability. A backline consisting of young Holmes and Bird, both Junior Kangaroos in the upcoming test against the Junior Kiwis, has an exciting feel about it for those in the Shire.
7. Michael Lichaa (Sharks to Bulldogs)
The Bulldogs have arguably taken the biggest recruitment punt of all sides in allowing former NSW number nine Michael Ennis leave in order to sign an unproven, although talented, youngster. Lichaa has long been seen by Sharks fans as a player of great potential, and at times looked the goods in a struggling side in 2014.
He has been given a fairly large multi-year contract and will be expected to fit straight in come round one next season. It is a huge gamble, but there is no doubt that Lichaa has plenty of ability. Whether he can lift to the level of Michael Ennis in 2015 is a big question, and one plenty have had their say on. Could be a master stroke, could be a huge failure, but we probably won’t know for at least another 12 months.
6. Ben Hannant (Broncos to Cowboys)
This is a move that has somewhat gone under the radar. The former Origin and international prop struggled to hold down a first grade spot in 2014 for the Broncos, however his move to the Cowboys could restart his career. His addition to the squad will form a fearsome prop rotation with Kangaroo props Scott and Tamou.
A one year deal that has reportedly not broken the bank, this is a low risk, high reward move for the northern Queenslanders. As fan of the big man, I hope the move is a successful one for Hannant also. Once rated amongst the elite front rowers of the game, he is far too talented to be jumping in and out of the top grade. Big signing … literally.
5. Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles to Rabbitohs)
Possibly the biggest name signing of the lot, as on his day, there are few more damaging out wide than Glenn Stewart. The only question is, what type of Glenn Stewart are the Rabbits getting? The Stewart who is capable of changing a game with brilliant skill, or the injury affected Glenn Stewart who spends more time in the headlines for gossip rather than footy?
The Bunnies have lost a genuine superstar in Sam Burgess, but in Stewart, they have gone a long way to replacing him. If you thought the Bunnies centres were dangerous now, wait until the man who has formed the best back-row/centre combo in the game with Jamie Lyon comes on board.
4. Ryan Hoffman (Storm to Warriors)
This was something that caught me a little off guard as I genuinely thought it was a formality that Hoffman would re-sign for the Storm. A huge pick up for the Warriors who really could have used another experienced head this season. Hoffman has done it all, and is still firing on all cylinders despite just turning 30.
Will join Simon Mannering to form a fearsome Warriors back row in 2015. His addition to the side suddenly makes his outside men all the more dangerous, and when you’re potentially talking about players such as Hurrell, that could be scary. Disaster aside, I can’t see how this signing doesn’t prove to be a big success.
3. Michael Ennis (Bulldogs to Sharks)
The addition of former Blue Michael Ennis should finally put an end to the Sharks ridiculous shared hooking duties of recent years. Having lost Morris, De Gois and Lichaa, the Sharks needed to land an experienced number nine to help guide their young backline around, and in Ennis, they achieved just that.
The Sharks problems in 2014 are well documented, but in 2015 there is a sense of a clean slate, and Ennis will be key in achieving any level of success. Will make plenty of tackles and provide an experienced head, and most importantly will pass on his knowledge of the role to Shark young gun Brad Dietz, who at the end of Ennis’s two-year contract should be a long way to being ready to take over long term.
2. Tariq Sims (Cowboys to Knights)
The Knights needed a signing in the mould of Tariq Sims in the world possible way after a horror 2014 season. In aging forward pack was in need of youth and aggression and in the young Origin hopeful they have found both in spades. Sims, whose development was stunted by a horrible run with injuries, may finally realise his potential in the Hunter.
The 24 year-old can play anywhere in the forward pack and will be looked upon to make a big impact early in 2015. Big, fast, and talented with ball in hand, Sims has the potential to become anything. This is one I will be watching closely as Sims provides great entertainment whether with, or without the ball. Newcastle should win big here.
1. Anthony Milford (Raiders to Broncos)
Milford has shown signs that he may become the next superstar in our game. The Raiders made every effort possible to keep their talented number one, however the Broncos ultimately won out, and should reap the benefits for the next decade. Milford is on the cusp of Maroon selection and would be considered almost a certainty if not for the presence of the likes of Slater and Inglis.
Earmarked to a move into the halves to solve the Broncos woes in the number six jersey, Milford is the most important signing of any thus far for 2015. If he fires, he and Hunt could fire the Broncos deep into the finals. If he doesn’t live up to expectations, the Broncos have a lot of money invested in him, and have lost Josh Hoffman to accommodate the freakishly talented 20 year old. Under Bennett, Milford could quickly go from the ‘next big thing’ to genuine superstar.
Other Stories Of Interest
In the wake of his brilliant 2014, and starring performance in last Sunday’s Grand Final win for South Sydney, Luke Keary looks as though he has again become the subject of an interstate tug of war for his services.
Last season the decision was made that Luke Keary was eligible only to play for the NSW State Of Origin side, despite his request to be made eligible for QLD.
Keary, who was born in Ipswich, which is genuinely in QLD despite jokes from South of the board, played his first junior game of footy in NSW, after moving to the blue state at 10 years of age.
The rules are ridiculously complicated and near impossible to put into words. The below image is taken from the nrl website and explains, as best it can, where a player is eligible to play.
Under the rules, Keary must represent NSW, having moved as mentioned when he was 10 years of age. He played the majority of his league in NSW. He attended the majority of his schooling life in NSW.
Is the fact he played most of his junior league in NSW enough to overturn the fact he was born and raised in QLD?
As someone on social media mentioned earlier “this is State of Origin, not state of selection”. As per the rules Keary must either play for NSW or miss out on Origin selection.
The Player’s Association have come out and thrown their support behind the Rabbitohs youngster, saying they will fight for his right to represent QLD.
As someone who was born and has lived in NSW my entire life, bar three months, I cannot begin to understand Keary’s thought process.
He was born in QLD and spent the first 10 years of his life in the State, and has made it very clear he wants to represent the state of his birth.
This is obviously not a decision made to simply enhance his chances of playing rep footy next year. With Thurston, Cronk, Cherry Evans and Hunt in front of him in the pecking order, it’s highly unlikely he will feature in the next few years.
If he were to accept his eligibility for NSW, he would be in the reckoning next season as NSW, despite victory, still do not look settled on their halves pairing at State level.
There are a few trains of thought on this issue:
1)He is eligible for NSW and must either play for them or forget Origin
2)He should be allowed to play for QLD after being born there and openly stating his intentions to play for QLD.
3)Some NSW fans don’t want him anywhere near the side. If he doesn’t want to play for them, he shouldn’t be considered.
4)If they were to change the rules for Keary, they’d have to bend them for anyone else in a similar situation. What would be the point of having the criteria in the first place?
The new rules were put in place to avoid a Greg Inglis like situation. Inglis who was born and played his first footy in NSW, was able to represent QLD on the basis he played his first under 18’s game in QLD.
There have been multiple examples of players representing either State through loopholes, whether it be Tony Carroll and Adrian Lamb playing for QLD, or James Tamou or even the great Peter Stirling playing for NSW.
Under the current rules, which cover everyone across the game, Keary is eligible only for NSW and cannot play for QLD. Rules are rules and if they were able to be bent, they’d be pointless in existence.
Keary must represent NSW.
As someone who was born and raised in QLD, is that really fair?
Other Stories Of Interest