A – ADULT CONVERSATION
Much like the great coaches before him, Damien Hardwick is displaying an increasing amount of elder statesmen tendencies. His discussion this week with a media pack surrounding Dustin Martin’s future, specifically that the triple Norm Smith medallist owed Richmond nothing and could yet finish his career elsewhere, was refreshingly honest. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t come to that and Martin can finish his playing days at Punt Road.
B – BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
English speedster Jofra Archer will not be seen for England or his county side Sussex during the northern hemisphere summer after being diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back. It is a cruel blow for Archer, who is one of the most exciting fast bowlers in all of cricket and only recently underwent elbow surgery. His absence will make life that little bit tougher for new England Test coach Brendon McCullum and Matthew Mott, who will oversee the Poms’ white-ball teams.
C – CLARITY AT LAST
It took longer than it should have, but we now know what the upcoming AFLW season looks like as the league inches closer towards full-time professionalism. The seventh season of the women’s competition will start in August and consist of 10 home-and-away rounds, plus four weeks of finals, with the grand final set down for November. All 18 clubs will be represented for the first time, courtesy of the addition of Sydney, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide and Essendon. The premier players will be paid $71,935, while the minimum wage increases from $20,239 to $39,184.
D – DOG DAY AFTERNOON
Trent Barrett entered the NRL season as a coach under enormous pressure. He was unable to keep the wolves from the door due to his side’s poor form and following last Friday night’s loss to the Newcastle Knights, things looked grim. So grim in fact that Barrett informed the club 48 hours later that he would no longer remain at the helm. He led the Bulldogs to just five wins in a 33-game stint that started last year.
E – EDUCATION REQUIRED
Let’s hope that West Coast take Liam Ryan’s enforced break as an opportunity to sit him down, look at some vision and inform him what is and what isn’t required for the rest of 2022 and beyond. A brilliant forward at his peak, Ryan has been poor for the most part this year and can consider himself extremely fortunate to only receive a one-week suspension for his bump on Jake Bowey last Sunday. He is better than that and the Eagles would be best served telling him precisely that.
F – FLIP OF A COIN
The market has had a devil of a time sorting out who should start favourite in tonight’s clash between Carlton and Sydney at Marvel Stadium. With little separating the teams on the ladder, it wouldn’t have been a shock had the Blues assumed favouritism. To be fair, they did at the start of the week, but the money has since trickled in the direction of the Swans, with punters perhaps a little wary of Carlton of a five-day break. As it stands, Sydney are $1.81 with TABtouch. Carlton are $2.
G – GOOD EDITION
The Group 1 Goodwood at Morphettville tomorrow copped a couple of body blows this week with the scratchings of September Run and In The Boat. Even in their absence however, the premier South Australian sprint is a quality affair. There are a swag of proven performers and then there is the fresh kid on the scene, Extreme Warrior. You would think the colt rolls forward under just 53.5kg for Jamie Kah to give him the best chance of an elite-level triumph that will assure him of a profitable career in the barn post-racing.
H – HANGING AROUND
Melbourne Storm received an early Christmas present this week when Craig Bellamy informed them he intended to coach again in 2023. Bellamy has a clause in his existing deal that allows him to either commit to coaching for the next year or move into a director of coaching role. His desire to remain at the helm gave the Storm a reason to rejoice as they chase further premiership success.
I – INDIGENOUS ROUND
Who can forget the spectacle of last year’s Dreamtime match between Richmond and Essendon at Optus Stadium? It was something to behold and the cherry on top of Sir Doug Nicholls Round, which has been appropriately recognised again this week in AFL land. The contribution indigenous players have made to Australian Rules, the nation’s indigenous game, over the years has been profound. The Dreamtime at the ‘G occasion tomorrow night between the Tigers and Bombers should attract a massive crowd.
J – JUNGLE DRUMS
They were beating in the lead-up to last weekend’s SA Derby (2500m), with co-trainer Michael Kent Jnr openly declaring that he wouldn’t exchange Jungle Magnate for any other horse in the Group 1. At the time it appeared a bold call given the presence of the in-form Alegron, fresh off his VRC St Leger victory and boasting a placing in the Australian Derby behind boom colt Hitotsu. But Kent’s claim proved prophetic, with Jungle Magnate dashing clear on the corner en route to a dominant win.
K – KEEP ON KEEPING ON
The AFL grand final will remain a daytime event — for now. Speculation was rife the AFL was going to transition to a twilight start time for this year’s showpiece event following successful grand final experiences under lights at the Gabba (2020) and Optus Stadium last year. But the league this morning declared this season’s grand final would remain in its traditional timeslot, with the opening bounce set to take place at 2.30pm, EST.
L – LEADING LADY
Charlotte Mills’ 13-year tenure with Racing and Wagering WA is coming to and end. Immensely popular and undeniably influential in her post as RWWA’s chief racing officer, Mills has decided to return to her home state of Victoria and take on the role as head of racing with the Moonee Valley Racing Club, starting in August. Her leadership during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic enabled all three codes here in WA to continue racing with minimal disruption. She will be sorely missed.
M – MARK MY WORDS
Mark McVeigh will become the latest in a long line of interim mentors over the years to press his senior coaching claims when he takes the GWS reins for the first time in Sunday’s home match against West Coast. McVeigh will see out the rest of 2022 following Leon Cameron’s resignation and has quickly looked to surround himself with people he trusts, elevating James Hird to an assistant position and also calling up Dean Solomon to serve on his coaching staff.
N – NO LOVE LOST
Patrick Beverley won’t be catching up with Chris Paul for a coffee any time soon. The Minnesota Timberwolves guard lined up the veteran guard after the Phoenix Suns were bounced out of the Western Conference at the semifinal stage by the Dallas Mavericks. “Ain’t nobody worried about Chris Paul and the Suns,” Beverley said on ESPN. “He can’t guard and everyone knows that … CP can’t guard anybody. You know what you do with cones? In the summer time, you got a cone, you make a move. What does the cone do? Nothing. Everyone knows that.”
O – OVERDUE
When Rory McIlroy claimed the 2014 US PGA Championship, his fourth major crown, it seemed to all and sundry that there was an undeniable new force on the men’s tour. It was hard to argue with that. But a fifth major has proved elusive since then, a drought that has extended beyond his wishes, albeit one that could end over the weekend. He fired a five-under-par 65 in the opening round in the PGA Championship in Tulsa overnight, enabling him to a hold a one-stroke lead. The past three times the Ulsterman has carded a 66 or lower in the first round of a major, he has prevailed.
P – POST-BARTY ERA
Australian tennis was hoping the Ash Barty show would roll on for a few more years yet. We now know that is not going to happen. So, it is with great interest that we watch the events at the French Open in Paris, starting on Sunday night. It would be a pleasant surprise if an Australian was still active in the second week at the clay-court major, an event that has proved troublesome for many players from this neck of the woods.
Q – QUOTE OF THE WEEK
It was terrific to again see first-year Collingwood coach Craig McRae this week demand high standards from his players despite a virus wreaking havoc at the club. “We’ve had that phase the last couple of weeks of just not putting up with certain levels of things (and saying) ‘let’s just execute this’,” he said. “I’ve said openly before, just because you’ve had a runny nose or a bad night’s sleep, doesn’t mean you can’t man up in the zone.”
R – R.I.P ROY
It’s hard to put into words the heartache that all cricket lovers, indeed all sports fans, felt waking up on Sunday morning to the news that Andrew Symonds had died in a single-vehicle accident on Saturday night. Symonds was a prodigious talent and larger than life figure who may have flourished even further in his playing days had he been supported by Cricket Australia officials in 2008 regarding racial taunting from Harbhajan Singh. His death is yet another cruel blow for the cricket community following the tragic passing earlier this year of Rod Marsh and Shane Warne
S – SUNBURNT
Fremantle headed to Queensland last weekend chasing a seventh successive win. They left with their tail between their legs after being afforded a free football lesson by Gold Coast. The Dockers didn’t adjust to the wet conditions as well as their hosts, who withstood everything the Dockers threw at them in the initial 30 minutes before turning the screws themselves. The Suns, fresh off wins over Sydney and Fremantle, should be aiming for an historic September appearance now.
T – THRILLING FINALE
After another absorbing season of English Premier League action, it has come to the final weekend. Liverpool’s dramatic 2-1 win over Southampton midweek left them one point adrift of league leaders Manchester City ahead of the last round on Sunday night. The Reds will need to dispose of Wolves at Anfield and hope City slip up against Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium to be crowned champions. Reality television at its best awaits us all.
U – UNDENIABLE
If anyone wants to claim there is a better horse in this State right now than Elite Street, tell them to sit down, take a breath and reconsider before speaking again. The son of Street Boss proved his credentials once more last weekend when cruising to victory in the Group 3 Roma Cup (1200m) at Belmont Park. Elite Street has one Group 1 to his name already (some would say he’s unlucky not to be a dual Group 1 winner) and unless something emerges from the pack over the next six months or an Eastern States raider of the highest quality lobs in town, the weight-for-age Winterbottom Stakes is again at his mercy.
V – VINDICATED
The father-son training partnership of Peter and Paul Snowden and Triple Crown representatives Michael and Chris Ward were smiling like a split watermelon last weekend after Mazu took out the Doomben 10,000 (1200m). Mazu was afforded his preferred ground thanks to plenty of rain in south-east Queensland, but he still displayed plenty of grit to land a maiden Group 1 victory. Given a two-year deal had been struck between Triple Crown and The Star and Arrowfield slot to run in The Everest, Mazu’s Queensland victory was extremely timely.
W – WEST IS BEST
The Republic of Western Australia continues to punch well above its weight on the international golfing circuit. Royal Fremantle product Minjee Lee claimed her seventh win on the LPGA Tour earlier this week, holding off Lexi Thompson by two strokes to claim the Cognizant Founders Cup in New Jersey. It was Lee’s first triumph since she took out the Evian Championship, her maiden major success. The win vaulted her to fourth in the world, with many good judges believing it is only a matter of time before she climbs the summit in the women’s game.
X – X MARKS THE SPOT
Essendon fans were outraged this week over the decision by the club to extend chief executive Xavier Campbell’s tenure for a further two seasons. Campbell became Essendon’s CEO in 2014 as they struggled to navigate the supplements saga and has not overseen a finals victory during his time at the club. His extension comes as Ben Rutten struggles in his second full season as senior coach, further incensing long-suffering Bombers supporters.
Y – YOUR RESPONSE IS …
Whilst we are talking about Essendon, the football community has been waiting all week to see exactly how Ben Rutten and his players respond to ridicule and criticism. Yes, Rutten did take the Bombers to the finals last year and is only in year two of a rebuild. But if his team doesn’t make a stand and soon, one wonders how long he will remain at the helm. Their meek performance against Sydney was quite rightly highlighted by commentators around the country and surely there is a reaction to that scrutiny against Richmond at the MCG tomorrow night. Surely!
Z – ZAAKI’S DEFENCE
Cast your mind back 12 months and try to recall the horses that filled the placings behind Zaaki in the Group 1 Doomben Cup (2000m). It is difficult. Especially when they weren’t in the same frame on television as Zaaki, who made everyone sit up and take notice with a demolition job, winning by seven lengths. He is back to defend his title tomorrow and will start a raging odds-on favourite. An expected heavy surface isn’t to his liking, but his class should carry him home. For the record, Toffee Tongue ran second last year and Brandenburg was third.