This is one of the most open NRL Competitions in a long time. Teams which are meant to be good are still finding their feet. Teams which are meant to be hopeless are playing great footy. It’s confusing. Who knows where the black box of success is for a number of teams. One thing is for sure, the blue print for success won’t be found in the Sutherland Shire. 
Here are this week’s power rankings:

16. Cronulla- No Gallen. No sponsors. Off field dramas still. They have as many wins as trophies in their cabinet. They still have some big guns to come back, but no team has started 0-4 and won a premiership since 1933. That was the Newtown Jets and we know what happened to them. 

15. South Sydney – Is there inhouse fighting? Who knows what’s going on, but there’s a lack of defence and a lack of tries being scored. This team is a shadow of the team from last year. Maybe they need George Piggins to save them again?
14. Newcastle- Notched up their first win of the season on the back of raw emotion and the team playing for Alex McKinnon. To score 30 points and keep the opposition scoreless is normally a great step, but it was against the Sharks and they can’t even get past the bouncer at Northies at the moment.
13. North Queensland- Snakes on a Plane was once a bad movie and the snake at the ground last night had more venom than the Cowboys. 
12. Gold Coast- This team has the basic ingredients to be a decent team. Everyone knows the basic ingredients of a spag bol and people still mess it up. Add a bit more parmesan and some extra chilli and the Titans will be ok.
11. Parramatta- What a win against their neighbours! Consistency will be the key as they approach round 5. I think the team was threatened with mormon classes if they lost. 
10. West Tigers- The baby Tigers are doing just what I thought they would. They are hot one minute, Luke (Brooks) warm the next and then cold. 
9. Sydney Roosters- There’s too much class in this team to be this low on the power rankings. They’ll be crowing again soon. They just need to cut out one session at Alimentari Cafe and leave the soy latte’s behind. A loss to Manly isn’t the worst thing in the world. 
8. Penrith- A huge wake up call this week. This team was going along nicely and the new combo’s looked like a large Big Mac meal, they seemed so old hat and to be working so well. Even the happy meal didn’t look so good after a hiding from Parra.
7. New Zealand- Vodafone might not work in most areas, but the Vodafone Warriors certainly have some reception at the moment. 
6. Canberra- You can say South’s were woeful on the weekend, but Canberra were brilliant. Basic football together with flair. Almost looked like shades of Ricky Stuart’s Green Machine.
5. Melbourne- The storm came and it wiped Melbourne out. They’d been lucky for a few weeks and there was no Houdini escape this time. 
4. Canterbury- Where did this performance come from? The bite is back and the poodles have gone back to Bulldogs. A stunning display. Who needs Andrew Fifita?
3. St George- First loss of the season. Disappointing performance, but they didn’t play that poorly. They huffed and puffed, but just couldn’t blow the house in.
2. Brisbane- Beautiful one day, Perfect the next. The Broncos are looking magic. Their seventh straight win over the Dragons. 
1. Manly- Guts and glory. This Manly team knows how to win a game. Grand Final replay and I think it will be just one of a few times these teams clash before they fight it out again in October.





Sport comes in traditional senses and then there are non traditional sports.

These sports are more often than not totally extreme and visually spectacular.

I’ve been to three Olympic Games, seen the Super Bowl, countless NRL and AFL Grand Finals, World Cup Soccer Qualifiers, Ashes Test Matches, some of the biggest horse racing meets in the world, V8 Supercar races and Grand Slam tennis finals. These are all amazing events, but in terms of pure visuals, I honestly don’t think they compare to extreme sports.

I captured this video, click this link, of someone (I don’t know if it’s a male or female) flying through the air. The person in question seemed to be using water at an extreme pressure to launch himself or herself, into the air and then back down again, like Astro Boy.

I have since learnt it’s called a JetLev-Flyer Water Jet Pack.

Here are two other short videos which I think are possibly the most visually stunning things I have ever seen in sport. They make scoring tries or touchdowns, kicking goals, throwing punches, hitting balls or running quickly, look easy!

The first is Lewis Crathern, kite surfing 100 feet in the air over Brighton Pier in England.

This next one happened on New Year’s Eve 2008/09 and still stuns me. It’s Robbie Maddison’s famous jump. If you haven’t seen it, it’s breathtaking, scary, mind blowing and just insane!

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The Major League Baseball is coming to Sydney. The LA Dodgers are playing the Arizona Diamondbacks on March 22 and 23, 2014 at the famous Sydney Cricket Ground.

There are more people who go to Bondi Beach on the weekend than real MLB fans in Sydney. There are probably more people who even go to Starbucks near Hyde Park, than follow baseball over here. However, get involved in this incredible game, Sydney and attend a game which is loved all over the world and not just in the US. Tickets are still available, so don’t miss out.
Baseball terms have evolved into common vernacular in a spectacular way. While most Aussies might not watch the game or even follow it, I bet you a hotdog with ketchup and mustard, everyone has used a term from the game, at least once in their life. 
I’ll start “right off the bat” now and hopefully this isn’t a “hit or miss” piece about common terms from baseball which you have all heard.
Everyone wants to hit a “home run”, which basically translates to success, in personal and work environments. School kids talk about “getting to first, second or third base” with members of the opposite sex and if they don’t get to first base they have a “strikeout” or their friends will tease them about “having a swing and a miss”. 
In the business world when you are about to close a deal and something unexpected comes up which hinders or stops the deal going through, the words “we have been thrown a curve ball” are often muttered in a negative tone. At a bar when trying to meet a girl a curve ball might mean her ex boyfriend has just shown up or she needs to attend to a crying friend. Something unusual has happened to stop any progress you might be making. Charlie Sheen certainly threw a curve ball to the producers of Two and a Half Men, when he drank too much ‘tiger blood‘ and had to be cut from the show completely.
Charlie Sheen’s behaviour certainly prompted people to also say “that’s come out of left field” and it was also used worldwide when Miley Cyrus started twerking for the first time.
“Off the hook” is used when you do something you shouldn’t have but get away with it, without any repercussions. Obviously it’s not like robbing a bank and getting away with it, but if you leave the iron on at home and come home and the house isn’t in flames, you have been let off the hook. In baseball terms it relates to a pitcher who expects to record a loss, but his team scores enough runs to tie the game or take the lead.
A baseball stadium was traditionally called a ballpark, although there are now stadiums. When negotiating a price on something, you say “you are in the ballpark” if the figure being discussed is close to what is needed for the deal to go through. 
Other phrases which are used on a daily basis which come back to baseball include going into bat for someone, stepping up to the plate, touching base, hitting it out of the park, a brand new ball game, you’re in the Major League now or a heavy hitter.
We’ve all heard of “playing hard ball” and it actually refers to the comparison between balls in softball and baseball. “Going going gone”, is a traditional way for a baseball announcer to describe a home run as the ball is heading over the fence. “Let’s play ball” is used so often in the work place and in baseball terms before each game starts or after a dead ball situation, the umpire yells “play ball” to re-start the game. We’ve all called for a rain check when we need to cancel an appointment. A rain cheque was literally a refund cheque given when baseball games were called off and was first used in 1884. The first recorded written use of this term dates back to 1930.
I hope it’s not three strikes and I’m out, but I’m taking my bat and ball and going home now.


“Here we go again, Manly and Parra” 

We all remember the old words of adverts from yester year. If you don’t remember, have a look. It’s brilliant!

Many and Parra will be playing obviously, but it won’t be with the same intensity of the 80’s and they definitely won’t be featuring in September or sharing a Tooheys or two. 

The good thing for Parramatta is that, Ricky Stuart, one of the worst coaches in the modern era, with a record of 117 wins and 110 losses, has left and they can welcome a fresh start. It won’t be shades of Sterlo and Kenny for the Eels or 50 shades of blue and gold, but it definitely won’t be 50 shades of black, like it’s been for the last few seasons. 

This year will be one of the most even ever. The hapless Dragons are the only team I can confidently say won’t make the eight… Or the top 15 for that matter. They’ve bought worse than investors before the GFC and Gareth Widdop won’t save them.  

The only team to challenge the Dragons for the dreaded spoon is the Sharks. No coach. Injuries already. Findings still to come from ASADA. They will field a team in 2014…who knows how many regular players will be in that team. Who knows if they will keep competition points. This club has the team and heart to play towards October, but outside issues will hinder this.

The Tiger cubs will win a few games. Their team is full of interns. Luke Brooks might be a revelation in first grade. The Concorde might come back one day as well. Time will tell and the Leichardt faithful can’t wait to see what he can do. 

Remember the Titans. Great Movie but doesn’t apply to the team on the Gold Coast. Already forgotten them for this season. A little birdy might have something to say about their chances of the top 8, but I don’t feel they’ll be there.  

The Knights will slay the Dragons but the moat around their stadium won’t be impenetrable. Jarrod Mullen out until week 10 is just too big a hurdle to overcome.  

Shaun Johnson is arguably the most exciting player in the competition. He is Houdini /Copperfield. He single handedly got NZ to the World Cup final and could quite literally guide this team to a premiership. Impossible to write off. Impossible to predict. Impossible to follow. The Warriors can do anything and nothing. 

In my opinion had Canberra not been decimated by injuries and alcohol last season, they would have won the premiership. No idea what they put in the milk in 2013 but it wasn’t organic, homogenised or even full or creamy. I would never write off a team with a fit Terry Campese and hopefully the new coach, Ricky Stuart, can reunite his love with the team he once won a premiership with. Will be tough, but these fellas play in cold temperatures all the time, so they should be toughened up like King Gee. 

The Broncos will be bucking this year after a few years of being in the doldrums. It’s time for the Hoff, not David Hasselhoff, but Josh Hoffman to step up and I’m sure Ben Barba won’t be the black sheep he was last year. They’ll be in the eight and will cause some damage.  

Another QLD team the Cowboys who romped to victory in the 9’s will show they can play the 13 a side game just as well. Referees may have robbed them for the last two years but nothing will rob them of a finals berth this year. JT doesn’t have the moves of Justin Timberlake, but he has a few moves up his sleeve Timberlake can’t do.

The most impressive side to open their cheque books in the off season were the Panthers. They welcome home William, I mean Peter Wallace and I’m sure “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom”, will be heard when Wallace has the ball in hand. Ok, I can actually guarantee this will be the one thing which doesn’t happen in the NRL this year. 

The puppies of last year, will be Dogs again this year. All the off-field distractions will hopefully be gone and their coach, who still sports a 60’s hairstyle, will wind back the clock and have this team primed for an assault at the end of the season. If the Dogs win the Premiership, I’ll even cut my hair the same way as Des Hasler. 

The team most people hate, the Manly Sea Eagles are just a class act. They have been the most impressive team over the last decade, if not the last three decades. Schooners will be hammered down at Wharf Bar this year as the maroon and whites again, beat almost everyone in the comp. 

It might be stormy weather in Melbourne and it’s stormy conditions for most teams who play against this super power. They aren’t as strong as previous years, but they’ll again continue to prove that no-one cares about League in Melbourne and that this team is one of the best, with one of the best coaches- ever. 

South’s might be owned by Rusty, but they aren’t a rusty outfit. They choked last year in the semi finals, but don’t expect that to happen again. They will be in the Grand Final. 

Then there’s SBW and the Roosters. I can’t quite see how anyone will beat them. I gave them no chance at the start of last year (again proving my incompetence), but the brand of footy they play is superb. Defence wins games and theirs is complete. 

Get me to a game with a beer and four and twenty pie and some tom sauce!