THE YEAR IN REVIEW OF AUSTRALIAN SPORT

With no Ian Thorpe, Pat Rafter, Cathy Freeman or John Eales, the word success in Australian sport has been used less than “peptides are fine to use”.
 
The halcyon days of Australia winning everything in sport, is definitely just in the history books. 
 
We’ll get a gold medal for most number of reality TV shows and most annoying grocery store adverts, but we don’t win as many sporting events as we used to. 

Down down. Australian sport is going down. 

But I have complete faith in this proud sporting nation that we will surge back up on the international stage in next to no time and dominate everything, like they used to.
 
While the international stage might not be jam packed with victories this year, the victories we had on the world circuit were game changers. 
 
Adam Scott winning the US Masters is head and shoulders (and no that aren’t a sponsor of his) above anything else which happened in 2013. To be the first Australian to put on a jacket which so many people have tried to wear, is simply a stunning success. I personally put it equal first with Australia winning the America’s Cup, as the best moment ever in Australian sport.
 
Mick Fanning took out his third surfing world championship, which is incredible. The man from Penrith, who clearly didn’t learn to surf there, will surely be having a few brandy alexander’s with Greg, at Panthers, to celebrate his achievement.
 
Australian’s didn’t do much damage on the tennis circuit, but Bernard Tomic certainly caused some trouble with his orange car and celebrating with Baywatch blonde girls on his 21st birthday. Tomic is a rare talent and hopefully he can spearhead a revival in Australian tennis now we are back in the world group of the Davis Cup as well. 
 
Rugby didn’t have its strongest year and there were more schooners drunk than five pointers scored. Israel Folau was a great addition to the Wallabies though. While he only scored two goals in AFL, he crossed for 10 tries this year. Stick to a game which has rugby in its title somewhere, Izzy.
 
Cricket was good, bad and ugly. And then in a Cinderella type transformation it became spectacular. 
 
While the London Olympics were in 2012, we could barely get a medal there (thank goodness for the boat people – a saying which isn’t often said here). Back in London this year, we could barely make a run or take a wicket. Prior to England, players couldn’t even do their homework. The decision review system needed to be reviewed and the Ashes didn’t stray too far from London. But then in Australia, in a makeover Carson Kressley would have been proud of, the man who used to bowl to the left and to the right, learnt to bowl alright. Mitchell Johnson tore through the English batsmen faster than a mach 3 on his moustache and the batsmen learnt to send the cherry to the ropes. The Ashes are finally coming home! 
 
The Rugby League World Cup was done and won. Enough said. With only three test playing nations we should have won and we did in an emphatic fashion. The real contest of Rugby League is the State of Origin and this delivered. Queensland were superb and won their 8th straight series. But the questions will always remain- had two of the NSW stars in Paul Gallen and Jarrod Hayne played in the decider- would the result have been different? And had a streaker not come onto the field of play and given Queensland another set of six in the final 10 minutes, would the Blues have prevailed. With my bias eyes, I say yes, but you have to hand it to the maroons. 
 
The domestic league competition was also thrilling. Trent Robinson (who I bunked with in Athens in 2004 at a youth hostel and has come slightly further than me in nine years, to be fair) can now boast that he has a premiership after one year of coaching. Wonderful achievement and well done to the chooks. 
 
Unfortunately the NRL was also injected with a peptide issue and players, coaches, trainers and teams have all been affected in a drama filled year. 
 
Like League, AFL had its peptide problems. By the time punishments had been handed down, I think we’d all Hird enough. Code names like GHRP-2, which sounds like R2D2’s cousin or CJC-1295, C-3PO’s mate were announced to the sporting world. Let’s hope it’s the last we hear of these code names until George Lucas brings out another Star Wars movie.
 
With Essendon cut from the finals, in an incredible move, Hawthorn bounced back from a horrible loss to the Swans in 2012 to win the AFL crown and be the toast of Melbourne!
 
Sporting wise, the talent on display in NRL and AFL is phenomenal. Let’s hope the recent dramas don’t affect either code long term.
 
I’m sure Mark Webber’s already sent his best friend, Sebastian Vettel a Christmas card and our most successful F1 driver in a long time announced his retirement, this year. While he never won a world title he will be remembered as one of the greats in the Australian motor industry.
 
We still may have an Aussie competing in the Superbowl in February and the Socceroos have qualified for the World Cup. While they may be in the group of death, it will be our aerial skiers defying death by leaping to incredible heights in Russia. Fingers crossed they can bring home some medals along with Torah Bright and Dale Begg-Smith.
 
Another great year in sport gone by. Let’s hope it’s even better with even more success in 2014!
 
In summary:
 
Top 5 highlights:
  1. Adam Scott winning the US Masters
  2. Australia winning back the Ashes
  3. Mick Fanning winning his third World Championship
  4. Gai Waterhouse winning her first Melbourne Cup
  5. Australia winning the Rugby League World Cup
 
Top 5 lowlights:
  1. Peptides
  2. Australian tennis results
  3. Australian rugby results
  4. Blake Ferguson and James O’Connor’s behaviour
  5. Anthony Mundine v Shane Mosley fight
 
 
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THE SLICE IS RIGHT!

Come on down… Australian golf! There is no slice because the price is definitely right. 

As they say on golf courses all over the world… Fooouurrr!  

Watch out. Golf in Australia is back!  

2013 has been Australia’s best year in golf in a long time.  

Adam Scott and Jason Day have headlined the return, which is almost Back to the Future like. As Doc would say, “Great Scott!”

Michael J Fox only ever wore puffer jackets on his skateboard, hover board and horses, but Scott has worn green and yellow jackets this year. Quite fitting for an Aussie really. Scott has had a Stella Artios year and let’s hope his wardrobe is big enough to fit in a few more jackets.  

The Armani and Boss jackets he no doubt already has will take second fiddle to his multi coloured jackets.  

Jason’s day will definitely come soon too and he was in the race to win the US Masters as well, demonstrating there is finally depth in Australian golf. While no one remembers the bridesmaids (just ask Daniel Kowalski and Stuart MacGill), three runners up finishes in majors over the last two years, proves that he isn’t far away. 

He’s still only in his mid 20’s and will be on the golf course for a long time to come. 

Together with these two recognised stars, Brady Watt, who was a former world number 1 amateur, is turning pro this weekend. Let’s hope we don’t say “Watt was his name?” in a few years, he can become as successful as another Brady, Tom Brady and he can make an impact on the golfing world. 

While people at the ages of Watt and Day normally refer to the dance floor as something sticky, covered in spilt snakebites, which you normally only hit after you’ve had numerous schooners, these two young men have shown incredible dedication in their sport and the dance floor for them is when the ball hits the green. 

Golf is one of the most fashionable sports too, where players make Joseph and his technicoloured dream coat jealous. Fred Astaire shoes, fat and skinny belts and white pants which are normally only seen in St Tropez. I played on the weekend and one of the players in my group was wearing red pants and a lime green shirt, showing the fashion of golf is flowing through to the local level. Ok, that was me, so bad example. 

Geoff Ogilvy isn’t known for his outlandish dress sense, but he won a major not so long ago too. While he isn’t ranked in the top 100 at the moment, he can strike a ball better than most English cricketers. Australia has 5 players in the top 100 currently and the success of Adam Scott and Jason Day will surely drive more Aussies back into the list which is more reputable than Triple J’s Australia Day, Hottest 100.

 Golf in this country is back.

RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP FINAL PREVIEW WITH ADRIAN LAM

The Rugby League World Cup is just a few sleeps away and it will be watched by viewers all over the world…from Australia to New Zealand and back to Australia.

A handful of people not at the game may watch it in England, but I’m fairly sure soccer has that market covered.

For all the viewer(s) of this game, it will be worth watching.

Just because there will be more viewers watching Home and Away than this final at 1am AEST, doesn’t take away from the fact that Australia and New Zealand are the two best nations in the world and the amount of talent on display in this game will be truly mind blowing. If you prefer reality TV, this game will have that element anyway. If you like Dancing with the Stars, watch Greg Inglis’ footwork. If you like the X Factor, Billy Slater will be on display (and probably at 3am in the morning). If you like Australia’s got Talent you will see Paul Gallen do things which shouldn’t be humanely possible. 

Australia should win, but they should have won the last Rugby League World Cup. They didn’t.

The Australian cricket team should have beaten Bangladesh in 2005 , but they didn’t. At odds of 150-1, Greece were given no hope to win the 2005 Euro Championship- but they did. England were meant to beat the US in the 1950 World Cup Soccer tournament and with 20 shots on goal to one they should have. But they lost 0-1.

The Kangaroos have more attacking weapons than a US Naval ship in a Cuban Canal and can truly score from anywhere on the field. New Zealand have Rugby League Player of the Year, Sonny Bill Williams and Shaun Johnson who broke the hearts of the English last weekend and has done the same to many NRL teams.

Who will win? 

While I have watched over 600 NRL games from a couch (Terry Lamb and Steve Menzies have never done that and I don’t care that they’ve been playing) and played 102 games of touch football for the Ratpack, I’ll leave the analysis of this game to someone with slightly more pedigree than me.

Adrian Lam, who played 14 Origins and captained eight for Queensland, 11 internationals for PNG, 147 games for the Roosters, 107 games for Wigan, made and captained the ‘Rest of the World team’ against Australia, was one of the Assistant Coaches to the victorious Dragons in 2010 and is the current coach of the Papua New Guinea Kumuls, sheds some light on who he thinks will win this game.

“This final will be won through Australia’s halves combination of Cooper Cronk and Jonathon Thurston, as they just have too many skills, which can’t be ignored. Jarrod Hayne and Greg Inglis are on the edges and they are two of the best attackers in the game, currently. Games are definitely won with the pack moving forward, but these four players will win the game for Australia.

Adrian believes “the Kiwis just need to be patient. They have a pack which is not only massive, but incredibly mobile. If they bide their time there may be some gaps in the middle around the edges which the likes of Sonny Bill can exploit

“Australia will win this final. They lost the last one and this will definitely be on their mind. They want to make amends and will be desperate”. 

Lam thinks Australia’s sensational pivot, who wears his trademark headgear, Jonathon Thurston, will be the man of the match and the final scoreline will be 24-16, to the boys in green and yellow!