Hadley and Wilson: sapping my pool of Olympic spirit

I’m cool with the fact that there are sections of the Olympic party that will always be exposed to the elements of under-staffed broadcasting options.

 

With the breadth of sports taking place, there’s always going to be some disciplines that are thinly covered, rendering them susceptible to those downpours of unfortunate ineptitude from someone who has drawn the short straw when the gigs are being handed out.

 

Lifestyle show tradies covering the BMX racing, former cricketers casually waxing about clean and jerk, and the 4-yearly steadies that have the dust blown off them for the sailing are just some of the examples of stretched resources that leave holes in the coverage.

 

Hadley

In saying this, there is usually a handful of sports that Australia can bank on for at least a C-grade pass mark for informed expertise without personal agenda, and one of those is swimming.

 

Being a nutso nation for aesthetically pleasing humans who can successfully fang through water at a good clip has meant the cream of the nation’s callers has always been allocated poolside for Australian telecasts.

 

Unfortunately, this golden rule for swimming sport casting prestige has been trash-canned by Foxtel at London 2012 by allowing airtime to Ray Hadley and Rebecca Wilson.

 

Never before has human water racing seemed more like human water torture.

 

These 2 ‘callers’ bring the usual ABCs of Olympic commentary gaffes with forgivable customs such as horrendous mispronunciation of foreign surnames, low-rent footy mentality and far-too-regular tears, all of which we are all able to endure through gritted teeth knowing the nature of their plight.

 

However, when I’m getting patriotically randy for some hotly contested freestyle or a ripping stint of medley and my telly starts yelling at me in a god awful blend of talkback radio oafishness and tabloid journalism exaggeration, I draw the line faster than an unheralded French relay.

Wilson

 

What should be a basic play-by-play description of events that doesn’t divert from the commentary road map is instead a cacophony of shameless self-admiration and haughty life advice sessions.

 

How hard is it to stick to routine confirmation of placings and times, a raised delivery for a world record, and total ignorance of who’s running first when our competitor is running 7th?

 

Its nuts and bolts conduct on the blah blah of broadcasting that even a hungover 1st year communications student could handle.

 

Not for Hadley and Wilson though, who as you will see below never allow giving a balanced description of events get in the way of a good shove of their own wagon.

 

The early soiling of my Olympic experience commenced with Hadley, and I nearly choked on my Official Burger of the London Olympics: Big Macwhen it happened.

McGuire

 

The outspoken shock jock’s familiar high-horsing absolutely red-lined in Kendrick Monk’s and Nick D’Arcy’s heats, when instead of sticking to the events from starting block to finishing wall, he decided to impart his best life coaching with advice that they’ve surely been given in chunky doses already.

 

He firstly set their lives back on track with that Confucius-like pearl of wisdom ‘pull your heads in’ followed by further moral teachings, before filling the majority of the race with a recount of their well-documented and already dealt-with misdemeanours.

 

I was waiting for him to throw the lines open and take a couple of calls from his cranky listenership, but then halfway through the second lap he finally removed his mentor’s cap and decided to call the actual events of the race.

 

That Tony Robbins moment from Hadley was just the beginning.

 

My Official London Fries then became airborne when Wilson got in on the act with the featherweight accusation that the majority of the Chinese swim team were pumped to the back teeth with performance-enhancing drugs based on ‘what she had read on the Twittersphere.’

 

Whether or not it be true, social media was as good as a positive b-sample for Scoop Wilson. And immediately from her brain to air it went.

 

Does this pair actually think they are competing for attention-grabbing gold themselves?

We effin’ love you, Rabs.

 

I guess in all of this, we really should dip our lids to those highly intelligent techo roadies at Foxtel who have managed to get these two calling from the car park outside of the swimming complex. I assume they’ve had to improvise as there is barely enough room inside a garden variety sized commentary box to house both of their upsized egos.

 

The shrinking violet personality of Susie O’Neill was the obvious choice as their special comments offsider as her pint-sized demeanour is all that could fit in the remaining 2 square inches in their allocated broadcast area.

 

I could probably cop this television travesty if our swim team wasn’t making a speciality of 4th and 5th placings so far. Belting the Yanks and a London DJ having “Advance Australia Fair” on his most played list would certainly numb the over-exposure to these 2 hyper-narcissists.

 

Unfortunately, all we’re getting is participant ribbons that are no match for the ache of Hadley’s policy for description overkill and Wilson’s antiquated sensationalism being agonisingly delivered by her nasal drawl. It’s a 2GB/News Limited fusion that induces blood from the eardrum and makes me hate watching our bronzed pool soldiers for the first time in my life.

 

All this after only 4 days of competition and with Eddie McGuire to come, where I’m banking we’ll see the first ever mention of a Collingwood controversy somewhere inside an international track program. But that’s a rant yet to be created.

 

As for the pool pain, not only do I take Foxtel to task over this, I also lay some of the blame at the feet of our lazy chums at Channel Nine.

 

Their broadcast alternative of saturation cross promoting, repeatedly thrashed montages replete with high-energy techno and recycled Tim Sheridan news stories about how much plum-busting an athlete has done for their Olympic dream does not stem the bleeding and also takes away from our treasured time with Ray Warren.

 

All of this ordinary coverage of swimming makes me treasure him more than ever.

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Sorry John, we’re not hiring outspoken athletes right now…

I love the thermal sensation of nationalistic pride that I feel when I think about Australia’s achievements as a sporting nation.

It flows like the Murray from my corked hat right down to my Dunlop Volleys and makes me feel bloody bonza.

Even for a population that in global comparisons is rather small, the number of champions our production line pumps out is consistently high. I’ve done the count myself, and per capita, it’s definitely overs.

Further patriotic fist pumps are provoked when I think of the usual unassuming grace we’ve shown in the majority of the billion wins we’ve racked up.

John listening to a recording of “How to win friends and influence people.”

Bloody oath cobbers, I’ll tell anyone who asks. Our neck of the woods is chockers with respectful and humble gut-busters. Stuff-all of us have tickets on ourselves and we take care of business for the wide brown land with minimal fuss.

It’s a homegrown stereotype, but I’ll cling to it.

However, having an island full of reticent and hardworking legends does have a downside.

Our rich fibre of modesty that we covet can be easily torn when one of those pretentious self-advertising types occasionally surfaces.

If an outspoken mirror-worshipping jock starts ripping on the starter cord of their turbine-powered voice box and then revs the thing like an attention-seeking bogan’s Torana, they tend to stand out.

Our numero uno offender used to be Anthony Mundine, but nowadays spandex-clad brat John Steffensen seriously challenges his top seeding.

Steffensen has recommenced his attempt for the mantle of Australia’s King of Codswallop right in the shadows of an impending athletics carnival involving earth, and as a fierce protector of our national image, frankly I’m cheesed.

What are you doing, John?

Australians would like to see our fleet of golden kids pick up their 6-8 gold medals and 30+ clean-forgotten bronze without controversy please.

What makes his recent conduct even more difficult to handle is not only the fact he is making the Olympics all about him, but also Australia’s thirsting for a smoko break from the duty of digesting this type of self-centred activity.

Let’s face it. We’ve only just recently learnt to apply Mum’s old rule about the school bully to Mundine’s carry-on. If you ignore it, eventually it will go away, or lose relevance domestically and nick off to America to fight has-beens.

When Mundine first bustled on to the scene with a prose similar to a gerni hooked up to a sewer plant, Australia was taken aback. Partly due to his brash and conceited approach that was so unfamiliar to us, but mainly because we had no idea how to deal with it.

All we had been fed over the years was bland and respectful mutterings from knockabout blokes and sheilas, usually who had earned their right to 15 seconds of exhausted yak the moment they stepped out of a pool. There was no instruction manual on how to react to bluster and bravado from someone who was certain they were going to conquer the world after beating the snot out of an opponent with a 5-20 record.

Meek and affable, Mundine has even given himself to helping the return of lightly-shaded trousers in to fashion.

This state of confusion had some so incensed and perturbed that even our treasured right to free speech was on the line. Ordinary Australians considered foregoing the right to the occasional sexist joke or verbal zinger towards a politician if it meant that this guy had to shut up too.

But as time has gone on, and Mundine’s episode-staged press conferences have lost their novelty factor, we’ve all learnt to deal with it.

It’s an uneasy state of comfort, but a damn long way from the first moment when we lost our minds after he grabbed a microphone and plagiarised some Muhammad Ali rhyming while wearing oversized sunnies.

So after this long slog of internal wrangling that has eventually resulted in us finding some kind of weird peace, we would really appreciate some quiet time. Nothing but the banal and prudent, please.

Unfortunately, the last couple of weeks dotted with Steffensen’s media grabs of spoilt fluff indicate that he didn’t get the memo.

Please John, how about a different approach? Perhaps an immediate code of silence that will help to begin rescue your previously won medals from drowning in an ocean of boasting, tantrums and poor attempts at rap?

We would like to enjoy the Olympics without your threats and sulking, and maybe one day class you as an Aussie champ who does his best running with his legs and not his mouth.

I won’t hold my breath inside my dinky-di lungs waiting for this to happen, so perhaps it would help if we just give him a sock.

Just make sure it’s green and gold and made out of grouse Aussie wool.

The secret to one guaranteed NRL win

What’s the standard head count nowadays inside an NRL coaching staff?

The last time I checked it was getting to ‘fleet’ status.

There’s the assistant coach, halves coach, recruitment officer, strength and conditioner, physiotherapist, hypnotherapist, bus driver, nightclub minder, tattoo consultant, someone to hang up on Phil Rothfield’s phone calls and the bloke who picks what plays on the boom-box in the sheds, just to name a few.

It seems there’s not a possible life event in a league player’s existence that isn’t covered these days by someone passing themselves off as an important expert in Elastoplast or as indispensable when it comes to getting a Gatorade mix spot-on.

Some punters call it overkill, yet those in the industry call it comprehensive.

Personally, I call it a sick joke on a club’s payroll and a great time to be in the tracksuit business.

What a shame this great win was marked by team-inflicted whiplash for the captain.

This information-overload approach to regularly snaffling those 2 slippery competition points each week has become part of the professional landscape these days, but Saturday night proved there’s still an old move that trumps collective league smarts for guaranteeing a win.

It’s evil, strategic, scarce in use and viewed by those who wield the power to call upon it as a sleeved ace that should be held close to the chest like a Survivor immunity necklace.

And much like said television phenomenon, the move has the power to incite an instant cyclone of arse kissing and tears throughout various areas of your beloved organisation.

When called into action, the advantage is so unfair that it boosts your team into a temporary stratosphere of invincibility that only the combination of fixing the match and doping your whole front row could produce.

That’s right. The golden ticket to one sparkling 80-minute performance of which I speak is not outlaying 120k for Andrew Johns to spend half an hour with your halfback each week. It’s your CEO’s decision to end the tenure of your head coach. Effective immediately.

If your team needs the instant hit of that soothing serum known as an immediate medicinal win, then it’s a cinch.

Simply bid arrivederci to Mr. Clipboard, wrap the farewell present with the ‘full support of the board’, clear your throat for the team song and watch your playing group care once again for at least one round.

This move from the playbook of abstract league theories has a snappy and instantaneous effect that involves the consequence of a footy-suit shafting the career aspirations of a person they told the world they unconditionally advocated. However, don’t be concerned; the feeling of guilt will be offset by the ecstasy of that single rousing win decorated with loveable underdog charm.

How else could Saturday night in the golden west be explained?

Coaching is easy. When you get the arse.

When the win-proof Parramatta Eels bucked a soggy form-line to roll a desperate premiership heavyweight in the Melbourne Storm, the uneducated looked straight for an objective reason.

Was it a tweaked second man play, encrypted defensive pattern or pre-match speech with the velocity of a hairdryer from a women’s prison?

All wrong.

It was Steve Kearney’s decision to choose spending his future with daytime television over his players that took the 3 Dally M points on the night.

It’s the latest example in footy of ever-ailing subjects having a syringe of anti-crap plunged deep into their chest thanks to the unfavourably lopsided count for a coach at a board meeting.

For everybody in the place besides the reject, it’s a TV dinner; a quick fix that guarantees instant satisfaction and only 2 minutes of frying something in a microwave.

So now the bar has been set, and therein lies the issue.

In rugby league’s modern day phase of paralysis by analysis, how does your team’s gaggle of paid analysts replicate that intangible pixie dust that buffets through a playing group when their leader is discarded?

Maybe we should just hire an extra strategist to work it out.

Deliriously delightful Des loves you

The Des Hasler press conference has now replaced The Voice as television’s most dependable display of excessive complimenting and goodwill.

It seems that the longer the current Bulldogs winning streak stretches, the more sparkles and rainbows he bequeaths next weekend’s opposition.

His weekly sessions on the news microphones have gone from the previous word-efficient grunting with an occasional spurt of fork-tongued vilification to the current super-sized outpouring of spoken hugs and linguistic bum-taps.

Congregating journalists used to timidly circle him like mistreated animals, unsure if another volatile burst of slander or emotionless grumbling was coming their way.

If this man offered you a hug, would you believe him?

In 2012, they walk away from Belmore like they’ve watched a Disney movie after a shot of happy gas.

This week, he finished his media chat session with a tired set of lungs after blowing a jet stream of benevolent smoke up the backside of anything coloured maroon and white. Nobody on the peninsula was spared, from the players to the fans and everything in between, including Brookvale Oval, the Corso and even Manly Oceanworld.

This follows on from the loved-up hippie ramblings from previous weeks which included him nearly offering up his first born to the Melbourne Storm, preaching the good word about the Tigers like a religious missionary and being so impressed with the Roosters that he just had to pinch some of the product for himself.

At this rate, you wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see a queue of society’s downtrodden and disrespected forming at his doorstep in the hope of a restoration of self-esteem.

You can picture it now. Recently kicked arses like Nick D’Arcy, Julia Gillard and the cast of ‘The Shire’ all patiently lining up to ask Des a question, praying for a warming blast of verbalised flower petals for the soul.

He’s just that generous with pumping up other’s tyres right now.

So what the hell is on his raisin toast that is causing this saint-like outpouring of affection?

His priors seemingly indicate that it’s another attempt by Hasler to be Peter Powers; a shifty attempt to stupefy the minds of his opponents while he pilots more aircraft under the radar.

Surely not!

While ever the victories keep rolling in at Canterbury, his semi-automatic attention-deflecting through the means of a blanket fondness for all of league’s creatures will be seen as a smokescreen that even Ray Charles could spot a nickel through.

I’m going to give Des the benefit of the doubt and assume that he’s not a naïve fool. The shrewd operator is intelligent enough to acknowledge the death by flogging of that old chestnut.

So what else could it be that has him smitten with the universe?

Is it the move from RSL blow-wave mop to short-cropped Pitt motif?

Or perhaps it is the beautiful surrounds of Bankstown that calms him like a warm mug of Prozac?

I would love to know, or at least get the name of the medication he takes these days.

Whatever it is, get in line for a free Hasler hug right now. Before he gets shirty again.

Bellamy to poach Judd to wrestle back waning premiership tilt

It’s official: the Melbourne Storm are currently as flat as discarded party cola.

Craig Bellamy is fast becoming in need of a proverbial Mentos in the soft drink real soon, otherwise his aspirations for a coveted top 2 spot could be under threat from the chasing horde of clubs who are now crowded at a bottleneck just below.

Even Bellamy practices wrestling techniques on his own face.

With his troops battle-taxed and energy-parched after a torrid Origin campaign crammed with lactic acid, the word from AAMI Park is that the Storm boss has decided to have a geeze outside of his current player group for an injection of much-craved fizz.

The only problem is that due to the recent passing of the 30th June player swap, he can’t look among the usual recyclables of the NRL opposition fringes for inspiration, meaning unloved and neglected resources from league’s backwoods are out of the equation.

Time is also a factor with 7 rounds in the year remaining, so he’s mindful that his gun-for-hire will need to have the ability to slot effortlessly into his system as if he has been microchipped with the Melbourne playbook.

Bellamy knows it’s going to take some funky recruitment subterfuge to re-carbonate his 2012 crusade like a stern pump from a Soda-Stream.

And the word from a few gossip ferrets down south is that the biggest story in Australian footy is on the verge of breaking due to his predicament, and this is how it’s origins played out.

It was a lonely Friday night. Bellamy was pacing around his modest digs, trying to conjure an antidote.

As he tried to remedy his edginess with a few gentle ales and an aimless wander around the television stations, he stopped on the AFL match between Carlton and North Melbourne.

The clinching move for Bellamy.

In a rare moment of mental relaxation, the flow of the game and its dominant players caught his attention. As he studied the action, the unthinkable idea of a cross-code assault to revamp his stocks leapt to mind.

“Too many Melbourne Bitters” Bellamy whispered to himself as a few pie-in-the-sky options busting their guts on the MCG turf swirled around his purple brain as potential solutions to his team’s downtrend.

Then at the 10 minute mark of the second quarter, the answer emerged from a pack of tight shorts and coldly stared him in the face like a psychotic ex-spouse.

It was gripped to the end of a gnarled Kangaroo limb. It was Chris Judd.

Judd: pondering the switch.

When Bellamy witnessed the beef jerky-tough Carlton megastar yank and then separate the arm from the shoulder cuff of North Melbourne’s Leigh Adams, his former vague respect and passing interest in the man immediately transformed to thoughts of him tyrannising a play-the-ball in purple.

The adept display of a rugby league ruck-retardation that he witnessed from Judd was surgically-precise and seemingly educated. It compelled Bellamy to frantically search Google for the dossier of the former Brownlow Medallist for further intel.

What he found made his already animated eyes light up like a Griswald Christmas house.

It was nearly identical to Tuesday’s training schedule.

2005: elbow manoeuvre to the head. 2007: unnecessary contact with the face. 2009: pressure point submission hold!

“It’s a bloody Greco-Roman job application!” he ferociously yelled with a level of furious excitement that propelled the froth of his refreshment to fly from his lips.

And from there, the negotiating phone calls to the Judd stakeholders began.

The Mentos to refresh his season has been located and Bellamy will be driving a hard bargain to get the Storm defensive savant he requires to circuit-break the 2012 NRL Premiership.

Get ready for the biggest talent grab in the code war.

Pending salary cap approval.

Hey Parramatta. Turn up to the party on time.

Steve Kearney might be struggling in his search for an effective formula for winning football games, but at least his team is trendy and cool in one respect.

He’s got his Parramatta Eels arriving fashionably late on a regular basis in 2012, making his outfit uber-swanky in social circles, but badly on-the-nose with their loyal following.

Their 2012 trademark is to casually appear at parties after all of the prettiest girls have been snapped up as dancing partners and the liquor supply has been desiccated.

These late arrivals are red carpet gold and social page etiquette of the highest order, but the fans and the club’s aspirations are left with little more than a couple of leftover canapés and a half smoked cigarette in the end.

On Sunday, they continued the season of hair loss for the Parra masses when the bunch of tumbleweeds that blew out on to Brookvale for kick-off magically morphed in to a pack of angry cacti for the second half.

Don’t you hate waiting in line to get into a party?

The Eels were 40 points in the hole before deciding to kick up their heels with a late flurry of 24 unanswered points. It was a performance that some assessed as having the fleeting style of expensive skinny jeans but the substance of a stick figure’s bicep.

This performance is part of a collection this year that has club bigwigs considering changing the team song to Steve Earle’s “Johnny come lately.”

Who could forget in round 8 against the Tigers when they sprung into action after the horse had bolted at 31-0?

It was a blistering final 14 minutes that involved 5 blue and gold meat pies and 2 extremely shirty coaches on the siren with the scoreboard showing a bizarre 31-30 result.

And then there was the round 10 appointment against Canberra, when Kearney’s men put in an excellent fraction of football after the emergency glass was broken in light of a 24-6 half-time deficit.

The familiar instincts kicked-in as they roared home to fall nicely within a respectable margin with a 40-34 loss.

It’s enough to have the fans asking for half-priced tickets that are only valid after oranges.

As for the club overlords, they must be sleepless trying to conjure up a method to counter this habit. What kind of hair brain scheme do they need to implement?

Play games in reverse and forfeit at the halfway point? Start the game with a 30-point deficit? Change the coach?

If only the “Bizarro” world from the Superman comics actually existed then Parramatta could ask the NRL to relocate them there. That way, their whacky way of doing things backwards would make theirs the hardest road trip of them all.

At least they can take heart from what occurred in round 13 when they faced a similar situation against Cronulla.

With the Eels feeling ensconced in the familiar security blanket of a 20-6 halftime deficit, it seemed that a wasted burst of freestyling on the way to another wafer-thin loss was in the waters of the footy gods.

Lo and behold, the mould was broken when the regular comeback blueprint was tossed by the wayside and victory was sought and captured.

With a hard grind back to parity and then a tap of the afterburners, the Eels delivered a rousing present to their fans with a famous 29-20 victory on the back of 23 second half points.

What would Kearney give to know what was in the Powerade that night?

I reckon he would happily trade his high distinction in Party Conduct 101 to know the answer.

Being chic cool with the in-crowd goes nowhere towards eradicating the pain of being considered stale ashtray-juice with the fans.

gregpfield

State of Origin is a joke and here’s why…

Game 3 – Anyone who’s strapped on a boot knows that was a shepherd. Commentators are payed to smooth these things over but even the channel 9 team had difficulty glossing that one over. King Wally in particular couldn’t resist the truth. (Perhaps a symptom of many who suffer depression?)

Game 1 – We all know that wasn’t a try.

I have just watched game 3 and I am appalled by what I have seen. The penalty count may have looked even on paper but it was designed to. I will just point two things from game 3 that stand out. There are many more from the rest of the Origin series this year that could make the grade.

Okay – why wasn’t Tate sent off in game 3 when Jennings was done for the same thing in game 1 and…

View original post 196 more words

The Senior and Mr Brown have a chin wag.

As passionate supporter of all things rugby league, the Senior has let rip with his thoughts on the recent origin match and recent series, posting his thoughts to me via e-mail.

So here is our correspondence, our view of SOO 3.

Well, Mr Brown it is déjà-vu again, although, the score flattered the blues.

The defence was just so so. They were waiting for the opposition to come to them and were on the back foot all game.

The backs were too flat and were flat footed (as were the forwards)

I thought Morris B, and JMorris along with Hayne were the pick of the backs.

Farah, Lewis(when he got a run) and Gallon stood out, but they ran one out. Whenever one went forward no real support was in evidence.

The halves were blitzed by their opposites. Carney and Pearce are not the answer, and please don’t get me started on Creagh or Scott.

Now I have had my gripe it will be back to the drawing board again so we may live in hope for 2013. Remember our tries were scored from judicial kicks and a soft one from dummy half, not from ball movements as was the case with Queensland.

The Senior.

Well old fella, your thoughts are pretty spot on; I agree with most. I’d have to say all our backs performed pretty good, possibly even better than QLD’s if you take into account the field position they were often in and limited opportunities they had. Over the 3 games, Josh Morris has elevated himself into one of the best centres in the game, just through his performances this series. Not only did he do a job on arguably the biggest handful in the game, he looked dangerous when given the ball. A breakout series for the young bloke.

As for Brett Stewart, the bloke had no field position to display all of his attacking brilliance. Yet, in a series where NSW struggled to find the line and territory, he managed to cross the chalk in each game. With better field position, Snake is the match winner we need.

The halves are tricky. Pearce was good in defence, but lacked the creativity and control his opposite number produced. He was left particularly wanting in the kicking department. Carney on the other showed on a couple of occasions that he has the spark which NSW have been missing. His kick for J.Moz in the dying seconds of game 3 is an example of that. He also looked more dangerous in attack than his partner did. However, his defence was no better than what Jamie Soward could have offered. Too many times, he was found on his backside after a Greg Inglis raid. In my opinion, I say stick with them both for at least another series.

NSW best were by far and away, Bird, Gallen and Farah. All three performed outstanding over the 3 games, showing balls, determination and leadership. Farah, in particular, established himself as an “origin player,” and proved to NSW’s most creative and dangerous man with the ball.

Last of all, and I hate to admit it, for man who has been sacked by 2 clubs and a national job and a man who for my mind was overrated in the coaching stakes, Sticky Ricky has done a fair job. He must be there next year.

Mr Brown

No flashing lights at the end of the tunnel for NSW

Just like being in an ice cold chain of failed double-up attempts on a poker machine, you’ve got to think that eventually your boldness is going to pay off based purely on odds.

At this point in time, the sweepstakes mentality is fast becoming the only thing that NSW fans can cling to at Origin time.

The callous and calculating gaming terminal is Queensland and they hold the power and the only bucket of dollar coins.

They flick the switch for the flashing lights and tinny organ music and determine the result at their behest.

Don’t get me wrong; NSW at their best and bravest can compete and push the machine to the brink of submission. They can collect a gratuitous feature or a small payout occasionally when the Maroons are 3% below their best.

Myles: making the memory of Petero fade inside the first XXXX after full-time.

However, if Queensland rise to their untouchable icy ruthlessness of sub-zero temperatures, then any attempt at multiplying the rent is always going to end up in their till, leaving you shivering on the streets amidst the cold of the loser’s Origin winter.

The problem for NSW is that this lay of the land between the two states doesn’t look like changing anytime soon, and this was no more evident than in a couple of defining performances in last night’s game.

Firstly, it was in the battle of the packs.

Another Maroon cornerstone in the form of Petero Civoniceva bid adieu last night and as he left the arena, he should’ve crossed paths with a straw for the Blues to clutch as it came through the door.

But the straw didn’t bother showing up.

Like a fluid change of legs in a relay, Nate Myles patted Civoniceva on the backside as he exited, took the baton and got to work.

At 27 years of age, Myles has proven this series that he is in the distinct elite. He sits snugly in the Maroon trenches alongside fellow perennial winners Matt Scott (26) and David Shillington (29) who will all be around for a few more years yet.

Civoniceva’s footprint has already been seamlessly filled, just like Shane Webcke and Steve Price before him.

Perceived plausible weak spot: gone. Possible power shift for NSW: evaporated.

Secondly, it was the split second game-definer.

Cooper Cronk’s clutch field goal was so Lockyer-esque that you could’ve sworn it was the statue of the retired great that had came to life and dinked it over with his bronze slipper.

One of the few cork-popping moments for NSW fans last year was the notion that those all-too-familiar moments could be consigned to dust with Lockyer’s departure. The closest he would get to a game would be sucking a Strepsil on the sideline.

However, the nightmare came back to life, albeit without the frog in the throat.

Cronk: attempting karaoke without a microphone.

Cronk is in his pomp age of 28. He is a bona fide superstar who arguably plays second fiddle to another bloke taking up huge space on the Sky Blue whiteboard in Johnathon Thurston (29).

They’re not going anywhere for a while.

Again, another glint in the tunnel extinguished for rugby league’s second best state.

The breathing space for NSW in the Origin stratosphere now seems so skinny that we need an oxygen tank the size of an elephant’s bowel to even blow a forlorn sigh.

And we haven’t even mentioned that Billy Slater (29) was hinge-healing on the sidelines.

As I wrote earlier this week, NSW have certainly grown some chest hair this series.

Ricky Stuart has got the whole of the state to throw their emotions in to the middle of the table, and a few breaking-balls in Mal Meninga’s direction had appeared to have Queensland’s customary greasy-smooth preparation finally showing some chips.

There’s no doubting that Stuart’s charges get an A+ for courage, belief and bravery, and there’s a ‘needs work but improving’ in the footy smarts column which will come with experience. While only of inching proportions, progress has definitely been made.

However, last night once again proves that NSW are 7 years into a seemingly never-ending apprenticeship at the hands of a dictating superior that may only grant a graduation when he gets old, disinterested or runs out of supplies.

For the current crop of Maroon champions, age is currently not a factor.

And even when any of them reaches his use-by date, he will simply be pushed out to pasture in his wheelchair by fresh and hungry juniors.

Have you tried to metaphorically visualise the Queensland system and how deep the channels run that feed into it?

I drill to the earth’s core and only reach as far as Queensland Cup juniors, and from there the army of Blue-hating soldiers grows deeper and deeper.

As for indolence, I don’t remember the last time that Origin slipped anywhere from the top of the priority list for Queensland, so you can forget about that also.

They hold our money and our hope. They hold the power.

There could be a while for Blues supporters to wait just yet.

Rosol Rout Caps Fine Month for Czech Sports

Czech tennis player Lukas Rosol’s recent shock win over world no.2 seed Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon has completed a good month for the country’s sportsmen, with the Czech football team also reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

26-year-old Rosol, barely known outside of his home country before Thursday’s victory, made headlines across Europe after upsetting the odds to defeat Spanish giant Nadal 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. His win has since been labelled “one of the biggest upsets in Wimbledon and Grand Slam history” after defeating the 11-time Grand Slam winner.

Rosol had been ranked 100th in the world and was the clear underdog going into the match – the man himself admits that one of his main aims was simply to avoid losing in straight sets: “I don’t know what to say – I’m not just surprised but it’s like a miracle. I never expected something like this. There are so many emotions – I don’t know what to say. [Nadal] is a superstar and I’m very sorry for him. I played unbelievably today. I hope I can play another match like this. I’m very happy for my support. Before the match I was thinking to play three good sets so I don’t lose 3-0.”

The Brno-born right-hander’s reaction after winning said it all: it appeared that he realized this was likely to be the peak of a professional career that began in 2004. It was not only the best moment in Rosol’s career, but also one of the highlights in both Czech tennis and Wimbledon history.

Nadal – hardly a man used to losing – had previously reached the third round of every Grand Slam tournament since 2005, but showed admirable sportsmanship and maturity to graciously accept defeat and proceed to sign autographs when many players would have stormed off the court. Indeed, the Spaniard was able to put the loss into perspective, saying I’m very, very disappointed [but] it’s not a tragedy, it’s only a tennis match.”

Unfortunately, Rosol’s heroics ended in the next round, with a defeat to Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber (a former world no.22) in straight sets. Nevertheless, it has proved to be an unforgettable tournament for the man ranked as the Czech Republic’s third-best tennis player in April 2012.

Earlier in June the Czech national football team had similarly impressed, albeit not quite on the same scale as Rosol, in successfully negotiating from a tricky Euro 2012 group that also included co-hosts Poland and a fancied Russian team. A 4-1 defeat to Russia, who boasted quality players such as Andriy Arshavin and Alan Dzagoev in their ranks, led to Michal Bilek’s men being written off by many pundits.

However, back-to-back victories over Greece and Poland propelled the Czechs to the top of Group A, booking a quarter-final clash with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. The heavy loss to Russia in their first group game meant that the Czech Republic became the first team to win a group with a negative goal difference.

As with Rosol’s third-round tie, the Czechs’ quarter-final proved to be one step too far, although it still took a late winner from Ronaldo to send Portugal to the quarter-finals. Losing 1-0 to a Portugal team ranked 17 places above them – that would only lose to Spain in the semi-finals on penalties – is nothing to be ashamed of.

The Czech Republic’s performances in these two sporting events,  in the Euros and Wimbledon the pinnacle of each’s 2012 calendar, means that the country’s 10.5 million population can be proud of a summer of success for Czech sportsmen.

NSW needs to keep it real and retain Slick Rick

It’s not often that you have a light and airy 90’s synth-pop song bouncing around in your head in the approach to a behemoth traffic-halting Origin decider.

However, as I consider the possibility of our pugnacious el capitano Ricky Stuart leaving the Blues at the completion of this series, I have the pulse and repetition of mainstay musical outfit KWS and their cover version of a KC and the Sunshine Band classic playing inside my mind.

“Please don’t go… Don’t go… Don’t go away…” 

(The excitement of a possible unlikely series win and a recently consumed can of Red Bull dictates that my brain jukebox plays the energetic 90’s cover over the subdued KC version. However, I digress on the back of caffeine.)

Check out that watch and check out that weapon.

It is these simple words from a group of underrated musical geniuses that burn through the blue sky like a flare and echo the sentiments of the southern state.

NSW’s renaissance needs to maintain it’s collaboration with Stuart to survive just like modern rap requires buckets of profanities. To prosper and remain relevant, a coarse edginess and brash junkyard demeanour is required for both.

Stuart’s cocky street-fighter style is the sole reason that our formerly ragged and reticent state side is in this series right up to it’s 12 carat grill and Ray Bans.

What was before an under confident and scruffy pub performer singing cat-suffocating covers has now been given a contemporary haircut and had a processor applied to his once tryptophan-like voice. There’s scantily-clad ladies gyrating on podiums in the background and he’s labouring under the weight of 7 chunky gold chains and a Rolex the size of a small army tank.

The ragged beanie has been replaced with a cap, and you know it’s on backwards.

All thanks to Stuart, our team has been pimped with self-belief and now they’ve got heat-packing Compton swagger.

He’s made it funky to be Blue again.

Now before I get a broadside from the northside who will be cussin’ and playa-hatin’ about how we haven’t won anything yet, let me say this.

Ricky’s fiery approach has ever so slightly bumped Mal Meninga and his mixing decks, resulting in a small scratch on the vinyl and a base line beat being just a tad imbalanced from it’s normal harmony and unison.

Basically, the whole Queensland track about world beating, chest puffing and money making isn’t murdered yet, but the MC is scrambling for an improvised way to finalise a muffed-up rhyming couplet after 7 consecutive verses of unbroken rhythmic street poetry.

How else would you explain the events of the last few weeks?

Naming a squad of 20 in alphabetical order, picking injured players, breaking the loyalty ethos by excluding one of the family, throwing in an unproven rookie and enforcing a media ban is the kind of behaviour usually exhibited by struggling Blues campaigns from the past who were straining for any type of advantage.

Is this the regular confident conduct from the street-ruling maroon bandannas?

You know the answer is ‘hella no.’

Stuart has got the Maroons looking over the shoulder for the first time in years.

What used to be a small compact car in the Queensland rear view mirror has now transformed in to a bitumen-bounding hydraulic-fitted sedan with some Snoop blaring, and it’s roared right up beside the reigning champs at the lights with the gang inside screaming the crudest mumma jokes you’ve ever heard.

The sky blue state no longer cowers thanks to the coach and his pursuit of lost street cred.

ANZ Stadium is now officially ‘cauldronised’, the reinvigorated faithful are following him like extras in a drop-top Cadillac in a Tupac video, and he’s assembled a robust nucleus of thugs that are inciting hate in the Queensland public for the first time in years which is a long way from our revolving studio door of used-and-abused poptarts from previous failed bids.

The NSW game has never looked stronger in this fruitless and never-ending bloody turf war of the last 7 years.

To those in power in the NSW projects, take this advice.

Regardless of Wednesday’s result, do whatever it takes to keep Stuart as the B.I.G. of this operation indefinitely.

No bling is too pricey, no backstage demand too outrageous, no bottle of criss too extravagant. Just keep the man on the mic.

I don’t want our proud state to go back to being synth-pop softies.

Warming the Pine

Sport for those with comfortable couches.