The Weekly A-Z


As sure as night follows day, there was always going to be fierce debate over the AFL’s match review process and tribunal system in 2022. The only real surprise is we found ourselves getting hot under the collar after just one week. Irrespective of whether Willie Rioli should have been suspended or not, the saga following his bump on Matt Rowell was laughable, with the AFL saying it disagreed with the tribunal’s decision to overturn the one-game sanction, yet didn’t exercise its right to appeal. And if Rioli was given the green light to play this week, why oh why was Mitch Robinson’s suspension upheld?


French international Paul Pogba has divided opinions ever since he arrived at Old Trafford on ridiculously big money last decade. His best is jaw-dropping. When his interest levels wane however, you just roll your eyes. Even if you are pro-Pogba or anti-Pogba, his interview this week could not be ignored. He spoke about mental health, family and his insecurities. And his comments about his time at United were also alarming. “You have to be honest, these last five seasons have not satisfied me,” Pogba said. “This year is dead, we won’t win anything. Whether it’s with Manchester United or another club, I want to win trophies.”


Argh, another summer of pontificating about the prospects of Geelong. It happens so regularly these days that it should be included on the sporting calendar. The Cats’ desire to remain relevant in premiership calculations led coach Chris Scott and the club to back in their senior core again for 2022. Many felt they would slide as a result. Yet even without Mitch Duncan, Gary Rohan and Sam Menegola for round one, they annihilated Essendon to signal reports of their demise had been greatly exaggerated.


Adam Durrant is very much in the mould of Mick Price. Neither are interested in massaging the truth. They tell it how it is. When asked this week whether Constant Dreaming was on track to deliver him his first WA Oaks, Durrant admitted she had ticked the boxes to this point in time and possessed the necessary bloodlines to run the 2400m given she had been building fitness along the way. She has beaten most of her rivals in the Listed 1000 Guineas (1800m) and Listed Natasha Stakes (2200m) and now meets them on equal weight terms. And if jockey Clint Johnston-Porter was asked which barrier he would have liked pre-draw, it’s fair to assume the top of his wish-list would have contained gate No.4 which she was allocated.


You will need to have one when you look at the team West Coast will field for Sunday’s clash with North Melbourne at Marvel Stadium. Eagles coach Adam Simpson conceded there could be a dozen players from last weekend’s loss to Gold Coast that were unlikely to make the trek east after entering the league’s health and safety protocols. The turmoil was so extensive at selection that the club had to delay its flight by a day to try to shore up its playing stocks. It seems silly that the game will still go ahead.


A midweek two-year-old win less than a fortnight out from the Karrakatta Plate doesn’t normally get a great deal of traction. But it was hard not to be impressed with the effort of Baby Paris on Wednesday, the Colin Webster-trained daughter of Playing God finding the front and kicking strongly in the straight to salute on debut over 1100m. Adding merit to the victory was the fact Baby Paris went to Ascot off the back of a 400m trial, albeit one in which she broke 23 seconds and beat Perth Stakes runner-up Street Parade in the process. As a result she now sits at $12 with TABtouch for the Karrakatta.


When Verry Elleegant goes around, be it Sydney or Melbourne, be it 1400m or 3200m, she is extremely prominent in the betting. Why wouldn’t she be? There aren’t many thoroughbreds active boasting double-figure Group 1 victories. But her brilliance can also lead us to overlook her rivals. Like last Saturday. Montefilia went around just shy of $10 in the Ranvet Stakes (2000m) and never once did it appear she would be gunned down by Chris Waller’s wonder mare, powering to the line to prevail by two lengths. The four-year-old now boasts three elite-level wins and nearly $2.4 million in prizemoney. A bona fide topliner she is.


Dan Morton has played the percentages with Alaskan God in what has been a masterful piece of training. The three-year-old gelding was presented first-up no trial in a 1400m maiden at Pinjarra last month which he won in second gear before being switched to town where he took out a class 1 1800m and then an 1800m event against the older horses. He now links up with the “big boys” in tomorrow’s Listed Melvista Stakes (2200m) in a final dress rehearsal for the Group 2 WATC Derby (2400m) in a fortnight’s time. On what we have seen all along, he won’t be out of place.


To label Perth Wildcats coach Scott Morrison one unhappy chappy after last night’s 85-83 loss to the Tasmania JackJumpers would be an understatement of sorts. Quizzed on the speculation John Brown was on the verge of being signed to replace Michael Frazier (again), Morrison lashed out. “Had we won, I would’ve been in a good mood and I could maybe do this f…… song and dance, or smile or tell a joke and pretend I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “It’s stupid. All right. That’s the last time that I am even acknowledging that as a question.” Okay then.


If Graham Arnold didn’t wake up this morning feeling slightly anxious, he would make a wonderful poker player. A loyal servant of Australian football, Arnold’s hold on the Socceroos’ coaching position is becoming increasingly tenuous after last night’s 2-0 loss to Japan in Sydney. Australia are now going to have to enter the play-off arena in order to book their spot in the World Cup finals in Qatar later this year. Even if they do qualify, the Socceroos don’t have the talent to advance past the group stage.


Fremantle found a way to get over the top of Adelaide last weekend despite being friendless in the market. Favourites early in the week, they started well in the black when it was revealed both Nat Fyfe and Sean Darcy would not play. They were again popular with tipsters this week before the COVID-19 situation complicated Justin Longmuir’s intentions. On what we have seen and the upside they have, Fremantle still have the talent to get the job done at home against St Kilda and improve to 2-0 ahead of next weekend’s western derby.


West Coast were desperate to get their mitts on Logan McDonald. Fremantle wouldn’t have said no either had the 19-year-old opted to return home at the end of the season. However, as we all know … possession is 9/10ths of the law and Sydney were able to convince McDonald that the SCG should be his home until at least the end of 2024. McDonald looms as the heir apparent to Lance Franklin and while it is unlikely he will scale his fellow Sandgroper’s heights, he promises to be an outstanding key forward for a long period of time.


We didn’t need today’s final group game in the Women’s World Cup over there in New Zealand to have an understanding we are witnessing a phenom in Meg Lanning. The Australian skipper’s unbeaten 135 in the win over South Africa was her 15th ODI century from only 97 matches. Her average, again before today’s encounter, stood at 53.98 and her strike-rate a remarkably efficient 92. In Lanning, we are witnessing greatness.


I’m sure the Fremantle players used a few more descriptive words when congratulating Heath Chapman for his last-second heroics against Adelaide last weekend, but we’ll stick with the PG rating. To stand tall in his one-on-one tussle with Nick Murray and then punch Ben Keays’ kick that looked like it would score, back into the field of play and therefore guarantee his team victory was the stuff of legend. The kid can flat out play and is as brave as they come. Good on him.


Tim Tszyu has been craving the bright lights of America. He doesn’t have to wait much longer now. Australia’s best boxer will make his American debut on Sunday morning in Minneapolis when he steps into the ring to fight Terrell Gausha. It is a massive risk, but with it comes the potential of a huge payday. Tsyzu is born to fight and wants to follow in his father’s footsteps. Those who follow the sport, including those in the USA, are well aware of the Sydneysider’s talent. If he puts on a show and knocks out Gausha, the world is most definitely his oyster.


Michael Voss’ second coming as a senior AFL coach couldn’t have started any better. Carlton sit on top of the ladder with a 2-0 start, the scalps of Richmond and the Western Bulldogs nothing to sneeze at. The same applies to rookie mentors Sam Mitchell and Craig McRae, who oversaw victories in their first games at the helm at the expense of North Melbourne and St Kilda. And while he was only filling in on an interim basis given Voss was unavailable last night because of health and safety protocols, Ashley Hansen handled the responsibility superbly. He looks a senior coach in waiting.


It would have been only natural for Steve Withers to wonder just what the future looked like at his kennel following the retirement of Tommy Shelby. When you have become accustomed to training a superstar, sometimes it can be hard to get out of bed and oversee the preparations of mere mortals. In Mambo Monelli, he could well be blessed to travel the country like he did with Tommy. Mambo Monelli’s win in last Saturday night’s Galaxy final at Cannington was brilliant. He showed his customary speed to blitz his rivals and chalk up victory No.6 in a line for Withers. Bigger things await.


It doesn’t have the same hype as other autumn Group 1 sprints, but the winning connections of tonight’s William Reid Stakes (1200m) at Moonee Valley couldn’t give a toss. Nor should they. Group 1 sprints in Australia are the hardest of all to win considering the depth of talent we possess over the short courses. In Marabi, Ciaron Maher and David Eustace look to have the right animal. The high-speed mare is unbeaten in seven starts and coming off her brilliant victory in the Group 1 Oakleigh Plate (1100m) at Caulfield. Importantly, she is 3 for 3 at the Valley also.


Who said racing fairytales didn’t exist anymore? Shelby Sixtysix has become the darling of all thoroughbred lovers after his non-step elevation throughout the autumn in Sydney. Trained by Danny Williams at Goulburn, Shelby Sixtysix won a highway event with William Pike aboard a month ago before running second in the Group 2 Challenge Stakes behind Eduardo (beating Nature Strip in the process). He then won the Group 3 Maurice McCarten Stakes (1100m) before last Saturday taking out the Group 1 Galaxy (1100m) at Rosehill. Don’t think the crowd at Randwick won’t be beside itself if he happens to upstage the best of the best in the Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) during The Championships next month.


Ash Barty. Your decision to retire from tennis this week caught so many of us off guard. You were the gift to Australian sport that so many cherished. Humility, skills, care and respect are traits we love to see in our athletes and you displayed all of them whilst scaling the summit and claiming three grand slam singles titles. You have inspired a new generation of female tennis players. You were and will remain a gem. Best of luck in whatever pursuit you follow. Again, thank you!


Those in the racing game know only too well the rollercoaster ride the industry takes you on. Jason Collett last Saturday clinched another Group 1 victory aboard Montefilia, taking down Verry Elleegant in the process. He was on top of the world and in demand ahead of the riches at Randwick. But by Wednesday, his autumn was over after falling at Warwick Farm and breaking his collarbone. Then there is Brenton Avdulla, who was forced to have an extensive break from the saddle after seriously injuring his neck last year. Since returning late last month, he has won two Group 1s, including last Saturday’s $5 million Golden Slipper aboard Fireburn.


What a ripping greyhound he is. The winner of last weekend’s Perth Cup started his career in Victoria and had starts in Tasmania and Darwin before he arrived here in WA where he has gone to another level under the care of young trainer Adam Smithson. Vice Grip didn’t disgrace himself when flying the WA flag in the final of The Phoenix, but is clearly a weapon around the 520m of Cannington. His Group 1 triumph underlines that fact. Congratulations to all involved.


Patrick Carbery is a very measured man. In saying that, he could have been excused for  chuckling away to himself during the running of last Saturday’s Group 3 Gimcrack Stakes (1100m) at Ascot. With Devine Belief and Fiorucci Mama carving away at each other up front, he allowed Amelia’s Jewel to find her feet back in the field before hooking her to the outside upon straightening. From there, it was a case of game, set and match. She blitzed her rivals to score by more than two lengths and take a stranglehold on the Group 2 Karrakatta Plate (1200m) next weekend. Amelia’s Jewel is a serious filly with a serious motor.


The pain Xavier Duursma was feeling from the moment he cluttered into Mitch Robinson last Saturday night was obvious. He immediately felt for his left collarbone and looked to be in tears on the boundary line when he pointed out the sore spot to club medicos. Fortunately for the Port Adelaide youngster, scans cleared him of any fracture and he was named to play against Hawthorn tomorrow.


It might be obsolete by the time you read this, but we will go down this path fully expecting WA to take care of Victoria in their Sheffield Shield match at the WACA Ground and earn the right to host the final. Not since the summer of 1997-98 have WA staged the first-class final, but their consistency in what has been another COVID-19 impacted season has been terrific. WA last tasted shield glory in 1998-99 and have not appeared in a final since 2014-15. The State is overdue for some shield silverware. Let’s hope the boys get it done on home soil.


We didn’t learn anything new about Zaaki following his win in last Saturday’s $5 million All Star Mile at Flemington. The same applies to Jamie Kah’s talent in the saddle. But who cares. They still deserve a mention after combining to clinch the rich feature, with the import’s ability to find a prominent position from a wide gate and see off the challenges another feather in his cap. Staying at 1600m was viewed as a potential hindrance for Zaaki, but his undoubted class, along with Kah’s skillset, helped allay any concerns.