Posts Tagged ‘winter sports’

Daley Tells Blues to Fire-Up

Laurie Daley image: commons.wikimedia.org

New South Wales Blues coach Laurie Daley has said his side intends to be more ‘aggressive’ in Wednesday night’s must-win match against the Maroons.

The Blues side have made no secret of the fact they intend to niggle and intimidate the Queenslanders.

Blues playmaker Robbie Farah believed his side were ‘too clean’ in the first match and were unable to put the other side off their game.

Queensland Coach Mal Meninga shrugged off the talk. “Bring it on,” he said. “That’s good. We have prepared for  it all week – that’s what Origin is all aobut.,

“You need that attitude and character, that aggressive outlook and mindset to play Origin footy – that’s why it is so great. If that’s the case, we have prepared for it.”

When asked about the intended aggressive tactics of the New South Welshmen Meninga said, “I think NSW play with a fairly aggressive mindset … We want to be successful and we will do whatever is needed to win.”

Rain is expected on Wednesday night, which means the game may be dirty in more ways than one.

Laurie Daley said Origin was unpredictable at best, but the rain throws another random element into the mix. He believes his side will be able to rise to the challenge and win in front of what is expected to be a hostile Melbourne crowd

His hopes were buoyed by the injury of Maroons play-maker Cooper Cronk. Last year the Blues won both games where Cronk was absent.

The unpopular Daly Cheery-Evans is set to replace Cronk.

Blues Back from Injury as Maroons Lose Cronk

Cooper Cronk image: commons.wikimedia.org

Gallen, Morris, and Farah have been passed fit for the Blues Origin squad. This allows Llows coach Laurie Daley to field his first choice of players in every position.

The news for queensland, however, is not so good; with playmaker cooper cronk being ruled out with a low-grade tear to the meniscus in his right knee.

Cronk will undergo surgery for the tear and be sidelined for three to four weeks.

Maroons coach Mal Meninga says Cronk is desolate at missing the second Origin match, which was to be played in front of his home crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“He is disappointed in the fact he is going to miss it,” said Coach Meninga. “He will work damn hard and he will be back for Game Three let’s hop.

“It’s a huge loss to us. In temrns of the way he manages the game and around the group. You know we are goig to miss him.”

And Mal Meninga isn’t overstating one bit. The Smith-Slater-Cronk combination has proved a success at all levels of football. These three grew up playing football together and occupy the most important positions on the field.

It’s no surprise that Queensland lost the two Origin matches without him last year, while winning when the combination was intact.

NSW Blues Injury List Lessens

Laurie Daley image: commons.wikimedia.org

Paul Gallen, Brett Morris, and Robbie Farah are expected to be cleared from injury and available for Blues selection.

For Coach Laurie Daley their convalescence couldn’t have come a t a better time.

The Blues meet the Maroons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on June 17 for a must-win second Origin match. This is the first match to be held at the MCG since 1997, and ticket sales have been somewhat sluggish.

Daley has until 7:45am on Tuesday to name his squad and he is keenly awaiting the fitness reports of his most experienced players: Gallen, Morris and Farah.

Gallen was cleared to play for Cronulla yesterday against the Sydney City Roosters. Boyd Cordner is expected to be dropped to make way for the incumbent Captain. While winger Daniel Tupou is pegged to be relegated to make way for Morris.

Robbie Farah, however, is another story.

Farah braved the Origin I battle field, returning after receiving painkilling injections for a grade three AC shoulder joint injury in the first half. Since the game, Farah has spent every waking moment undergoing rehabilitation.

Despite the severity of the injury Farah remains confident of his chances to play..

But Coach Daley has said he wants all 17 of his squad ready to train on the day they are named.

Sharks hooker (and one of the biggest divers in the game) Michael Ennis is expected to replace Farah, should the vice-captain be unavailable through injury.

The Blues will go into camp the day the squad is named.

Cherry-Evans to Stay with Manly

Image: commons.wikimedia.org

The NRL community has reacted with alarm at Manly play-maker Daly Cherry-Evans’ decision to renege on his deal to join the Gold Coast Titans.

 As Manly fans rejoice in the return of their prodigal son questions are being asked about the reliability of the utility. These questions extended to his fitness as a possible Captain of the club and Maroons sides.

Anyone who can break their word with such ease is not a man likely to inspire trust in his team.

Queensland and especially Gold Coast fans are rightly put-out. Queensland great Darren Lockyer was an outspoken critic of the backflip saying, “ When I was handed the Broncos captaincy in  2005, and eventually the Origin and Test jobs, I learnt the sign of a good leader is their strength.

“When a leader says he is going to do something, his word is his bond. He backs up his words with his actions.”

Cherry-Evans has said that he was unaware of the specifics being negotiated by his managers, and therefore refuses to admit he mislead any club.

“Any dealings (my management) may have been doing was with me not knowing – and that’s how I wanted it. I didn’t want to know if tere was something going on behind the scenes.

“I just wanted to worry about what I had committed to at the time and playing good footyball.

“I’m not going to deny there would have been work going on behind the scenes to get a deal. But I kept it at arm’s length and I wasn’t given a deal until the last 48 hours.”

Not everyone agrees with Cherry-Evans plea of ignorance.

Gordon Tallis, an ambassador for the Gold Coast Titans, felt Cherry-Evans had made a commitment with his words.

“I am disappointed, that is just as a Queenslander and as a fan,” said Tallis.

“A Captain has to be a man of principle I believe. If you look back at all the great leaders, from Wally (Lewis) to Mal (Meninga), what they have done for Queensland.

“Wally (even) turned his back on a career down in NSW for Queensland Rugby League, because it would have folded without him.”

Tallis’s appears to be applying a bit of a double-standard to Cherry-Evans.

St George-Illawara fans will remember Tallis choosing to sit on the bench for the 1994 season because the club refused to release him from his contract. Tallis wanted to leave the Saints to join the Broncos, and sought an early release. But the club were loath to lose the second row Raging Bull.

So Gordon fulfilled the letter, but not the spirit, of his contract by staying at the club, but refusing to play.

And yet Tallis went on to captain the Broncos, Maroons, and Australian sides.

World Rejoices at Sepp Blatter Retirement

Sepp Blatter image: en.wikipedia.org

Sepp Blatter has stunned the world, resigning his post as FIFA President only days after winning his re-election.

He is currently under immense scrutiny and an FBI investigation for corruption.

Blatter said he felt ‘compelled’ to stand for re-election, but has since realised the football governing body requires a ‘profound overhaul.’ One, we can only assume, that includes him.

And while the President was elected with a mandate from the members he realises he has lost support of the people who play, watch, and love the game. Without this support, he believes his actions and motives will forever be questioned.

Blatter will stay on as President until the next elective congress.

That was due to be in Mexico City on the 13th of May 2016. However, Blatter has asked the Executive Committee to organise an Extraordinary Congress to elect a successor at the earliest opportunity.

Blatter depicted himself as the hero of FIFA. He said he has always fought for the betterment of the game, but has been blocked by detractors with their own axes to grind.

In a parting shot Blatter has seconded Domenico Scala to oversee the introduction of far-reaching measures that will limit the powers of the next President and the executive council.

Measures, in other words, that should have limited what Blatter himself was able to do.

Jordan’s Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who lost a narrow vote to Blatter last Friday said, “I think that it is the right move from Sepp Blatter and I think we have to look to the future … I am at the disposal of all the national associations who want a change, including all of those who were  afraid to make a change.”

President of the European soccer federation UEFA, Michael Platini said, “It was a difficult decision, a brave decision, and the right decision.”

In fact, it’s difficult to find anyone who is not openly enthusiastic at the news of Sepp Blatter’s stepping-down.

Prince Ali seems to have the support of the whole world.

Stuart Walks Out on Press Conference

Ricky Stuart image: www.news.com.au

Another dummy-spit by Canberra Raiders Coach Ricky Stuart should see the club facing a hefty fine.

Stuart (no stranger to tantrums) walked out of a post-match press conference and forbade the media from approaching any of his players after their loss to the Broncos on Friday night.

“Todd Greenberg (NRL head of football), he was at the game tonight, and I just really hope he saw what I saw,” said Stuart to the media.

“It’s a lot healthier for our club if I don’t go any further into this press conference.

“In respect to all the media, it has nothing to do with you, but it’s just a lot healthier if I don’t continue.”

Stuart then got to his feet, said ‘thanks’, and left with Captain Jarrod Croker.

Canberra’s loss to the Broncos was its third in a row and their fifth from six matches at home. The win puts Brisbane at the top of the NRL table.

The Broncos scored four tries to the Raider’s two despite having Justin Hodges and Sam Thaiday out due to Origin commitments.

Everyone is wondering why Stuart refused to front the media. His team was clearly outplayed and there were no controversial refereeing decisions. If anything, the scoreline flattered the Raiders.

Jack reed crossed for the Broncos in the 13th minute, followed by Jordan Kahu (on the other side of the field) a few minutes later.

The Raiders fought back to 12-12 via Blake Austin and Jarrad Kennedy.

But a brilliant try on the stork of halftime to Lachlan Maranta took the wind out of the home team.

Corey Oats hammered the final nail into the Raiders coffin at the 58th minute mark. Two penalty goals filled in their grave.

Gould’s ‘Gifted’ Comments Disrespectful to Maroons

Phil Gould image: en.wikipedia.org

According to Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould the New South Wales Blues lost last nights Origin opener, the Queenslanders didn’t win it.

If Gould’s commentary was to be believed the Maroons didn’t actually do anything to win the game 11-10, they were “gifted” the match by their rivals through on-field mistakes and poor performances.

Gould was his usual unashamedly parochial self, saying ‘complimentary’ things about the Queenslanders while making sure these compliments were contingent upon Blues errors.

“There’s only one team playing out there! Only one team is playing. Only one team is playing,” he said.

If that was true, and the Blues were just standing around not playing, then an under-8 girl’s side could have won against them.

Things that passed unnoticed (or at least uncommented by the vocal New South Wales supporters in the 9 commentary box):

  • The disallowed try by Slater may actually have been a bad call.
  • In the second half Slater was impeded in a chase for the ball into the in-goal area (replayed twice but commented on not at all).
  • Greg Inglis had his worst Origin game (maybe worst first grade game) ever.
  • Will Chambers tore the Cockroach defenders apart and has emerged as the heir apparent for Hodge’s centre spot.
  • Queensland played a canny game to maintain possession (55% – 45%), if anything should have won by a lot more than one point.

For Phil Gould to argue that the Queensland Maroons were ‘gifted’ the game is insulting and disrespectful to players and fans alike. Such childish whinging should never be a part of professional sports commentary.

Gould needs to remember there are two sides in an Origin match and not just call for one of them.

 

Successful NRL Clubs Demand Larger Slice of the Revenue Pie

Phil Gould image: en.wikipedia.org

On Thursday 10 NRL club leaders met with NRL boss Dave Smith to fight for a larger slice of the revenue pie.

Clubs like the Gold Coast Titans, St George Illawarra, Wests Tigers, and Newcastle were not invited to the meeting – being already financially supported by the NRL and having independent directors.

The 10 clubs being represented showed how their own profits were being eroded from declining poker machine revenues, dwindling memberships and poor game-day attendances.

In an article first revealed by The Daily Telegraph the clubs demanded they get a say on Independent Commission appointments, they wanted a larger share of the NRL revenue to bring them into line with other major sporting codes around the world. And they demanded to know where the revenue raised by the NRL was being spent.

Clubs are getting bck $7.5 million a year frm the NRL – $120 million out of a total $330 million raised by the governing body.

The clubs have said they wish to work though their grievances. Should they not be able to The Daily Telegraph was led to understand the clubs may consider blocking any TV deals beyond the current 2017 license.

If this were to happen the NRL would effectively lose its $2 billion deal with TV stations.

The clubs will have another meeting at the next Chairman’s Conference on June 18 – the day after the second Origin game.

Athletes Think Better Under Stress

Amy Williams Bobsled: en.wikipedia.org

As if we needed another reason to envy gifted athletes – here is another:

A recent study commissioned by Dunlop Tyres in association with University College London (UCL) has found extreme athletes performed significantly better than average members of the public when subjected to physical and mental duress.

The parietal coretex (an area of the brain responsible for determining reaction speed) remained unimpaired when elite athletes were forced to complete tasks while under extreme stress. Not so for the rest of us.

UCL professor Vincent Walsh took five athletes – multiple Isle of Man TT winner John McGuiness, leading free climber Leo Houlding, racing car driver Sam Bird, wing-suit diver Alexander Polli, and Olympic bobsled gold medallist Amy Williams – and subjected them to a series of mental and physical pressures before engaging in timed visual tasks.

The athletes were worked to exhaustion before being challenged to identify a series of shapes and patterns.

Elite sportspeople, it was found, performed 82 per cent faster than average.

Motorcyclist McGuinness performed better under pressure than in the stress-free control study. While overall the athletes performed 10 per cnt better when under pressure.

In contrast, non-elite athletes saw their scores go down by 60 per cent.

The results are tunning.

John McGuiness: commons.wikimedia.org

John McGuiness: commons.wikimedia.org

They show that athletes can perform under intense distractions three times better than average members of the public.

Professor Walsh was still uncertain as to whether this ability was because of inborn neurological advantage or something developed through exposure to physical and mental stress through sport training.

Prof Walsh is adamant the skills can definitely be improved: “We might to be able to become a John or a Leo, but all these areas of the brain can make connections in later life, so we can enhance ourselves.”

Kangaroos Crushed by Kiwi Juggernauts

Image: http://www.news.com.au/sport/nrl/tim-sheens-has-coached-his-last-test-josh-dugan-struggles-on-wing-five-things-we-learned-from-australia-v-new-zealand/story-fndujljl-1227333185346

Perhaps the term ‘national disgrace’ is a bit strong? But that’s what some passionate rugby league fans are calling the Kangaroos performance last night against a vastly superior Kiwis team.

With the exception of Sam Thaiday Australia was out-muscled, out-strategised, and out-played by each of their opposite numbers. Thaiday played with his usual determination and bravery, but it wasn’t enough to lift his side.

Channel Nine commentators remarked on the lackadaisical, almost bewildered, body language exhibited by the Australians.

The New Zealand side, by comparison, knew what they needed to do and knew how to do it.

Australian coach Tim Sheens should never have been at the helm. His lamentable winning record (Sheens wins with good players in their favourite positions – but who wouldn’t?) should have excluded him from the top job.

Having players assume roles out of position (like Josh Dugan and Greg Inglis), no matter how good they are, is insane. You can be the best full back in the world – that doesn’t mean you’ll be a good winger.

The New Zealand team did a remarkable job of shutting down Jonathon Thurston and disrupting the plays between him Cronk and Smith. The Australian spine of players was never given a chance to develop any fluency. Defenders rushed and bustled them all night, cutting down their reaction time, forcing mistakes and poor choices.

The aura of Australian rugby league invincibility is well and truly gone. If the Australians are to climb back to the pinnacle of world league they’re going to have to plan, prepare, and perform better.