Archive for the ‘Rugby League’ Category

Footy Show Fight Night Debacle

Image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Liam_Messam_at_fundraiser_dinner.jpeg

Regardless of the outrageous mismatch All Blacks superstar Liam Messam says he is ‘shaking’ ahead of tomorrow his boxing debut tomorrow night.

For his first professional fight the New Zealand giant is facing Rhys Sullivan, a man who has been knocked out in all three of his previous fights.

To say the fight card is mismatched in tomorrow night’s inaugural Footy Show Fight Night is an understatement. There would be more competition in just shooting the non-footballers on the card.

But Messam went through the usual media hype to spruik the match and I suppose I’m duty bound to report it: “When we (he and Sonny Bill Williams) were driving here I saw ANZ stadium across the road and I thought, ‘I could easily go out there and play in front of a full stadium in a Bledisloe Cup game’.  I walk in here, I’m shaking, the nerves are going.”

Messam says he has watched boxing all his life. He has trained since he was a teenager, but only started boxing as an amateur after becoming friends with Sonny Bill Williams at the Chiefs Super.

“It (boxing) has helped me all my career. When I moved up to the Chiefs I was doing a lot of boxing in the off-season. I just never had the gonads to jump in the ring and turn it into a fight,” said Messam.

“I’m lucky enough to have had three fights now (Fight for Life charity events). It definitely helps the fitness side of things and the mental side of things – You’ve got to be pretty mentally tough to be boxing.

“You’ve also got to keep your cool in the ring, and that helps in footy. When you get into pressure situations in a big game, you know you can really dig deep and just do your job when it matters most.”

He’ll have no trouble doing his job tomorrow.

SBW to Fight Gal?

Image: en.wikipedia.org

Channel Nine boss David Gyngell has spoken openly about his wish to broadcast a boxing superfight between dual international Sonny Bill Williams and NSW Origin captain Paul Gallen.

This weekend Williams and Gallen fight carefully picked opponents in the inaugural Footy Show Fight Night at All Phones Arena. Channel Nine will be broadcasting the event live on GEM and using its results to determine the future of free-to-air boxing.

“I’m obviously a huge fan of Sonny personally and also professionally,” said Gyngell to reporters. “He’s a magnificent athlete disciplined and dedicated to rugby league, union, and boxing.

“I grew up following boxing as a sport and we genuinely believe that done right, there’s huge scope for it to appear on free-to-air television.

“We’ve got some sponsors involved for this fight and we’re dipping our toe in the water to test the market. Obviously in the bigger picture the fight everyone is talking about and would love to see is Sonny Bill up against Gal.

“There’s guaranteed to be huge interest in New Zealand given sonny is a current All black. And then n Australia, Gal would also have all of NSW wanting to watch.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to show people there’s a way to broadcast boxing on free-to-air and there’s a genuine interest in the sport.

“I’ve been lucky enough to watch Jeff Fenech fight all over the world and I’m excited about the prospect of Channel Nine becoming more involved in the sport.”

Gyngell has thrown his weight into establishing and covering the Footy Show Fight Night. He has Erin Nolan hosting the event, and commentary from Jeff Fenech, Danny Green and Anthony Mundine throughout the evening.

EX-Crim’s Allowed Back Into NRL, So Why Not Me? Asks Todd Carney

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NRL outcast Todd Carney hasn’t run out onto the paddock for his Catalan Dragons yet already he is considring a return to Australian Rugby League.

“I haven’t been in jail, haven’t bashed my wife, haven’t sold drugs to kids or done drugs, and those are the players who seem to be allowed back in,” he said to reporters.

Nor, it must be said, has he been involved in performance enhancing supplements.

Carney blew onto the national rugby league seen as a precociously talented 17 year-old in 2004 with the Canberra Raiders. Since then he has amassed a string of alcohol-related offences that has seen him banned from driving, banned from setting foot in his home town of Goulburn and, eventually, banned from playing rugby league in Australia.

And while many of his offences have been dealt with in the courts none of them were serious enough to warrant time in prison and none of them were deemed to be cheating.

Cronulla and New South Wales Captain Paul Gallen got a paltry one month on the sideline for cheating. He plead guilty to taking performance enhancing peptides in 2007. Previous Outrageous Sports articles have detailed the jaw-dropping improvements in Gallen’s meters run per game since that time. And yet Todd Carney gets banned for life for a series of embarrassing off-field misdemeanours and infractions.

Carney delivered the predictable script on how the change to the Dragons has been good for him: “Good headspace”, “allows me to focus on my goals”, “this is a new chapter for me”, etc, etc.

Where he goes off-script is on the subject of alcohol.

He admits it’s the common denominator behind his problems with the NRL, but he refuses to give it up.

“I never said I won’t drink and I never will because I think – well, it’s not part of rugby league, but it’s something I enjoy. The minute say I’m off the drink there’s eyes watching to see if I have a drink.

“There’s ways to work around it, moderation. Over here it’s completely different. It’s not always there to go for a drink and do whatever. It’s not something I stress over. The focus on me is to get better at football and lead a good life.”

Carney then returned to the script saying, “I gave myself to the Catalans Dragons and that’s where my main focus is.

“I’ve signed for three years, which will take me to 31 years of age,” he pauses. “It definitely leaves an option to go home. But that’s up to the NRL.”

Lopsided Fights for Footballers at Footy Show Fight Night

Image: www.tattoopinners.com

The fighting footballer farce continues …

Footballing legend turned part-time boxer Sonny Bill Williams is slated to fight an aging, pudgy journeyman for the Footy Show Fight Night at Sydney Olympic Park’s All Phones Arena, on January 31.

Chauncy Welliver has had 70 fights, won 55 of them drawn five and lost 10.

Williams says his opponent was at one time world ranked. But he neglected to add that was more than four years ago. For Welliver the fight is a much needed payday. For Williams it will be little more than another sparring session.

Williams has fought professionally only six times, with the only real match being against a semi-retired Francios Botha (See Youtube fight here).

And it ended in a complete farce:

With only three months training Botha was stiff competition for Williams. The dual international footballer was seriously tiring as the fight progressed. Each round his South African opponent was becoming more dominant – scoring more and harder shots. The fight was scheduled to go the mandatory twelve rounds but inexplicably the referee called a halt to the fight at the end of round ten!

Had things continued, boxing experts agree, Williams would have been knocked-out.

Barely able to stand, Williams was awarded the bout on points.

The Williams camp said both fighters had agreed to fight only ten rounds. The ringside judges and fans, however, hadn’t been notified. Betting agencies had to refund millions of dollars and the sport of boxing received another black eye.

Williams has been training with the Mundine camp (itself no stranger to fighting mismatches and benefiting from seriously flawed sporting decisions) in New Zealand.

The fight will be broadcast live on free-to-air television channel Nine.

Aside from Williams, Cronulla and NSW Captain Paul Gallen is riding high after winning by default against another footballer with drugs in his past, Anthony Watts (watch Youtube highlights here). He will have another easy fight against Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Brown and All Black Liam Messam will probably fight someone from the crowd.

Coach Henry Bolstered by Return of Douglas

Neil Henry. Image: commons.wikimedia.org

2014 NRL whipping boys the Gold Coast Titans have been boosted with the return of Luke Douglas. Douglas had his 215 consecutive match streak ended last year when he was swept up in the ASADA investigation into illegal use of peptides by former Cronulla players.

By admitting their involvement Luke Douglas, Albert Kelly and 17 other past and present Cronulla players received a one-year ban (backdated from August).

The ‘slap-on-the-wrist punishment was roundly condemned by all professional sports people as it effectively meant players played during their ban.

Red faced NRL executive, coaches and players just want the whole affair to die quietly.

Since the Titans didn’t make the finals Douglas and Kelly effectively sat out one month of their twelve month suspension.

But new Titan’s coach Neil Henry is just glad to have him back. After the execution of his predecessor, John Cartwright, Henry is under enormous pressure to deliver results. He is hoping those results come from the new tier of experienced players, like Douglas and Kelly, after the departure of club old timers Luke Bailey, Mark Minichiello and Ashley Harrison.

But one has to wonder what sort of example they set – confessed drug cheats who escaped punishments.

Coach Henry has taken the unusual step of moving one of the fastest men in the NRL, winger Anthony Don, into the centres. He has also begun pre-season training earlier in the year, at a new venue (an all-boys high school), with his own limited experience of the club, its culture and people. In the end he has to gel a rag-tag group of beaten individuals, with little experience of playing together, into a team. And then send them into one of the fiercest competitive environments in Australian professional sports.

Good luck to him.

Danny Wicks to Make NRL Comeback With Eels

Danny Wicks looks set to make one of the most unlikely sporting comebacks in Australia’s history. The ex-Dragons’ and Knights’ prop will have his contract with the NRL officially registered next month. But he has already been snapped up by the Parramatta Eels in a one-year deal.

What makes this story incredible is that Wicks hasn’t played a first grade game in more than three years – after being jailed for drug trafficking.

In September 2011 Wicks was charged with eight drug-related offences. He pleaded guilty to a further three counts of supplying prohibited substances.

The judge remanded him to a maximum three years jail.

The ban imposed by the NRL ended in September 2014. The Parramatta football club swooped and spent the final months of the year negotiating with Wicks.

He’ll be on a short leash. The club and league have imposed strict conditions, none offering with a second chance.

Steve Gills, Wicks’ manager, told reporters for The Daily Telegraph that Wicks has been training hard since June.

“Danny has been training with the team and was in rehab with a hamstring injury prior to the break, but he is going well.

“He doesn’t have a contract registered with the NRL, but we are hoping to have it sorted in the next two to four weeks, hopefully.”

Wicks has used his time in Glen Innes jail well. He has lost 20kg but added significant muscle to his already gigantic frame. He has trained well, impressing coaching staff and players alike. Best of all, he appears to have lost none of his speed and skills.

Sea Eagles Start Pre-Season with ‘Six Hours of Hell’

Willie Mason. Image: www.dailytelegraph.com.au

The Manly sea Eagles have begun pre-season training with what club recruit Willie Mason describes as, “six hours of hell.” The former Test and Origin forward believed the ordeals of the day would work to make the team mentally tougher.

The group of players and trainers faced real and serious threats from hypothermia as they climbed up Mr Kosciuszko in bleak, freezing conditions. But the extreme challenge cultivated resilience, camaraderie and toughness.

“You go on a session like that,” said Mason to the Daily Mail, “and you soon discover it’s no secret why they’ve made the finals for the last 10 years and won four grand finals.

“The success at the club is driven by the players and a great coaching staff, who all did the climb with us.

“A few of the senior blokes said this is the standard and this is our culture.

“They said they wouldn’t be happy if anyone quit.

“The senior players got up at the end and said they would have been pissed off if we didn’t train hard and work as a team.”

And work as a team is what they did when one of the trainers was struck down with hypothermia. The players responded to the situation giving him warm clothing and administering first aid, before helping him down the mountain.

After battling the cold, the mountain, and their physical and mental demons the players returned to base. Upon their return they were given a surprise two-hour fitness session.

“So we had to put the wet gear back on and let’s say the boys weren’t exactly impressed,” said coach Singe with a wry smile.

“It was very quiet at first, but then Matty Ballin and Brett Stewart said ‘let’s go’ and that’s when they all started yahooing and carrying on.

“They had to complete the task, so they ran out there and challenged us saying, ‘what else have you got?’

“So we saw the best of the players. A bit of self-doubt and negative talk; but it was satisfying when they lifted to get home.”

Never Ending NRL Season Begins 2015

NRL Club Championship Trophy (left) and Toyota Cup. Image: en.wikipedia.org

2015 looks to be the start of the NRL’s never ending season.

Having no care for possible player burnout the NRL is set to kick off the season two days prior to the Nines, beginning on January 31.

Paul Kind the head of commercial NRL said that “rugby league as a sport delivers a 12-month calendar with better variety than any other code in the country.”

“You look at the Nines – we follow that up with the All Stars two weeks later, a World Club Challenge series in the UK, into a 30-week premiership, and Origin (series) which includes going to the MCG.

“So no other sport can offer that sort of variety.”

Kind said all 15 NRL teams are behind the Nines.

“If you go back 12 months, if anyone doubted the success of this competition it was going to be around the way the clubs and players embraced it.

“From what we saw in Auckland, apart from capacity crowds and wonderful atmosphere, was the way the clubs supported the concept.

“We love this event. We think it’s got huge potential to get even bigger.”

One wonders if sides will need two or three teams to rotate mid-season so as to avoid player burn out?

Watts Calls Gallen a Malingerer Before their Fight

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Anthony Watts isn’t having any of Paul Gallen’s excuses ahead of their much anticipated boxing match. Last Tuesday Shark’s captain Gallen admitted himself to hospital for an infection in his groin.

Watts doesn’t believe him. He says Gallen is creating an excuse not to fight him, or to explain the loss if he does.

“I think it’s just an excuse for when I flog him,” Watts told the media.

“There’s a big chance – huge chance (I will knock him out).

“I’ll come out pretty strong. I’m not going to give too much away, but it’s going to be a war.”

Gallen has said he is prepared to fight regardless of the infection.

“It’s not ideal,” he said, “but once I go in there, there’s no excuses.

“I’m fine, I trained yesterday and I will train today and I’ll be ready to go on Wednesday.”

Watts recently had syringes found at his home. He has a history associated with illegal drugs. Gallen is a confessed drug cheat. It’s likely someone is getting knocked out.

Todd Carney Gives First Interview for Catalan Dragons

Todd Carney. Image: en.wikipedia.org

Troubled footballer Todd Carney has fronted his first press conference since the infamous ‘bubbler’ that led to his sacking from the Cronulla Sharks.

Carney admitted being angry over his treatment by the NRL, but has pledged himself to the Catalan Dragons for the rest of his career.

Carney’s first training session with his new club was on Monday. He will be given the five-eighth spot, a position he has made his own.

Carney, still only 28, has had a chequered career. He was sacked by Canberra, the Sydney City Roosters, and the Sharks. But he has vowed not to repeat the mistakes of the past and hopes for a long career with the Dragons.

Rooster’s coach Trent Robinson, was instrumental in facilitating Carney’s move. Robinson coached the dragons in 2011 and 2012 and was a mediator between the two when Carney received his marching orders from Cronulla.

At the press conference Carney said, “I’ve obviously done the wrong thing. I may not have deserved the punishment I got, but to be here in France … I’m not looking back. That’s past me now.

Catalan Dragons 2009. Image: commons.wikimedia.org

Catalan Dragons 2009. Image: commons.wikimedia.org

“The goals I’ve set myself are pretty high and I’m confident that the Catalans are going to help me achieve that.

“As soon as I get settled I’ll be taking (French) lessons.” Carney is currently living with Ben Pomeroy, a former Cronulla teammate.

“I’ve signed a three-year deal and I’d like to finish my career here and go on longer, after three years.

“I’m really going to get into that and the culture and make this my home for the rest of my career.”