The Weekly A-Z


Talk elite rugby league coaches and only a handful of names spring to mind. One of them is Craig Bellamy, who has been at the helm of the Melbourne Storm for 20 years and enjoyed ridiculous success along the way. A renowned hard nut, Bellamy makes no apologies for employing a ruthless approach. Though he demands plenty from his players, he has made a habit of protecting them publicly. There was a distinct deviation from that last night after the Storm lost 36-30 to Manly. Claiming they got what they deserved in the first half, Bellamy took aim at his charges. “I was just really disappointed in our defence and really disappointed in some individual performances that just weren’t up to scratch,” he said. “We had no energy or intent … if you put your hand up to play, you need to play well.” Expect a response next round.


There are statements on a sporting field and then there are statements. And it’s fair to say NSW made one hell of a statement last Sunday night in Perth. The Blues blitzed Queensland 44-12 before a heaving Optus Stadium crowd, levelling the State of Origin series at 1-1 ahead of a deciding game three at Suncorp Stadium this month. NSW scored 30 unanswered second-half points to avenge their loss to the Maroons in the initial match-up in western Sydney.


On the cusp of history in 2017, Serena Williams now finds herself at arm’s length from a milestone she craves. The 40-year-old American was knocked out of Wimbledon in the first round this week, leaving her stuck on 23 grand slam singles titles — one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record. Williams won her 23rd crown at the Australian Open more than five years ago, but has since given birth to her first child and endured a frustrating run of defeats at the four majors. She intends to play at the US Open later this year, but one wonders whether she can mount a serious title tilt.


Geelong surged into second position on the ladder after round 15 thanks to a sustained patch of good form. They are a long way removed from the side that was run over by St Kilda at Marvel Stadium in late May. And while they woke up this morning in third spot after Brisbane’s demolition of the Western Bulldogs, they should return to second with a flogging of North Melbourne tomorrow, a match where Patrick Dangerfield makes his long-awaited return. Dangerfield has missed the past month with a calf issue and could well become a serious wildcard in the back half of the campaign.


Have West Coast turned the corner or just produced a two-week spike in form off an extremely low base? That question will be answered this Sunday when they venture interstate to confront Richmond. Despite losing last weekend, the Tigers are in excellent nick and made an absolute mess of the Eagles when they met at Optus Stadium in round seven. But West Coast have been much better in the past two weeks, asking questions of Geelong in round 14 and taking down Essendon last Friday night.


The decision by Netball Australia to shift the Super Netball grand final to Perth a month ago raised more than the odd eyebrow. With the benefit of hindsight, it has proven a masterstroke. The West Coast Fever will get the opportunity to win their first title before home fans after reaching the decider with an upset of the Melbourne Vixens in the major semifinal. The Vixens rebounded from that disappointment to beat the Giants 55-54 and set up a rematch with the Fever on Sunday evening.


Gold Coast narrowly succumbed to Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval last Sunday, suffering a dent in their bid for an historic finals appearance. But Stuart Dew’s men only remain a game and percentage adrift of eighth-placed Richmond with two vital matches at Metricon Stadium in the next two rounds — Collingwood tomorrow night and the Tigers next Saturday. If the Suns are able to win both, they will be in the box seat to climb inside the top eight.


All good things must come to an end. As much as Paddy Ryder would love to keep playing forever, the end is in sight. And that is why St Kilda were desperate to secure Rowan Marshall’s signature for the long term. They got their wish this week, with Marshall agreeing to a five-year extension, tying him to the Saints until the end of 2027 and effectively ensuring he will finish his career at the club that took a chance on him in the 2017 rookie draft.


Startantes and Robert Heathcote know how to seize the moment. The Star Turn filly, prepared by Heathcote, claimed the final Group 1 of the 2021-22 season last weekend when gunning down Snapdancer inside the final 50m of the Tatts Tiara. The victory prompted Racing NSW to invite her to contest the $2 million Invitation, eligible for fillies and mares only, over 1400m on October 22 at Randwick. Startantes ran third behind Icebath in the inaugural running last year, and seems certain to head to the feature before backing up a week later in the $10 million Golden Eagle (1500m) at Rosehill.


The Western Bulldogs were seemingly building nicely, as evidenced by them entering last night’s match against Brisbane in eighth position. Having established a three-goal lead early in the second quarter and with Lions veterans Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich hamstrung and out of the contest, the Bulldogs were in the box seat. From there, it was an embarrassment. In less than three quarters of football, they were outscored by nearly 10 goals as their defensive inadequacies were exposed on the Thursday night stage. They have no part to play in this year’s premiership race.


There was nothing good about Tom Stewart’s bump on Dion Prestia early in last Saturday’s epic clash at the MCG. But the response from Stewart, who owned his moment of madness, Geelong and Richmond in the aftermath was all class. Cats coach Chris Scott admitted post-match that Stewart got it wrong and was extremely remorseful, Richmond didn’t jack up and become embroiled in a media stoush as many thought they might and Stewart himself pre-tribunal and after the four-week suspension was handed down, spoke of his care for Prestia and his desire to own the mistake.


Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir is not frightened to call a spade a shovel. We saw that earlier in the year when he declared there were too many at the club on good terms with themselves following back-to-back defeats to Gold Coast and Collingwood. But it was a very measured Longmuir this week in the lead-up to Sunday’s match against Port Adelaide, declaring the loss to Carlton a “blip on the radar”. He is confident the Dockers’ best, which has been seen for most of the year, is good enough to challenge the best in the business and believes the Freo faithful will be rewarded for their support on the weekend upcoming.


Nobody does mind games better than England rugby union coach Eddie Jones. The former Australian mentor loves the disruptive nature of a verbal spat. But ahead of tomorrow night’s first Test against the Wallabies at Optus Stadium, Jones has been uncharacteristically subdued. He knows full well that England’s Six Nations form was below par and the tourists have plenty to address before coming up against Dave Rennie’s outfit, which has been installed as favourites.


Arrowfield Stud proprietor John Messara has long adopted the “you can’t have too much of a good thing” approach. In simple terms, he wanted to best sons of Danehill to stand at his Hunter Valley farm and then continue the association with their best progeny. It is why he was committed to Not A Single Doubt, who was a two-time stakes winner on the track, before being retired to stud duties at Arrowfield. He proved a wonderful stallion, siring 16 Group 1 winners and being the nation’s leading sire on worldwide earnings for the 2015-16 season. Retired from stud duties in 2020, the 21-year-old son of Redoute’s Choice was euthanised this week because of a lung disease. His impact on Australian racing and breeding was — and remains — profound.


Considerable focus at Melbourne over the past few weeks has focused on the Steven May-Jake Melksham altercation and the contract status of in-demand pair Luke Jackson and Angus Brayshaw. Therefore, the announcement yesterday that Clayton Oliver had committed to the club until the end of 2030 was a massive shock. A three-time club champion and one of the more prolific midfielders in the competition, Oliver is expected to earn in the vicinity of $7 million when his new deals kicks in at the conclusion of his current contract, which expires at the end of 2023.


Just insert a picture of Steve Smith and we are all done here. Seriously. The histrionics from the former Australian skipper after his unfortunate run-out late on day one in Galle were embarrassing from someone who should know better. Unfortunately, Smith continues to give the impression that he cares for nobody other than himself, a trait which led to the shameful events in Cape Town a few years ago.


It is that time of the year in the NBA where terms “opting in”, “opting out” and “exercising free agency” litter the landscape. And just when you think you have heard it all, another bombshell drops. That occurred this morning when it was revealed Kevin Durant had requested a trade from the Brooklyn Nets despite being under contract for a further four seasons. The Nets have agreed to facilitate his desire to continue his career elsewhere provided they are looked after in return. Durant’s request came less than 48 hours after teammate Kyrie Irving decided to pick up his player option for the upcoming season, yet there are reports the pair could still link up elsewhere. Confused? You’re not alone.

R – R.I.P

Neil Kerley. Australian football lost a wonderful personality and passionate South Australian on Wednesday night when Kerley tragically died in a car accident, aged 88. Better known as “Knuckles”, Kerley played more than 270 games for West Adelaide, South Adelaide and Glenelg and represented SA 32 times in the interstate arena. He also won four SANFL premierships during a storied coaching career. His accomplishments and service to football led to his induction into the South Australian Football Hall of Fame and Australian Football Hall of Fame. He is now with his great mate, Ted Whitten. Condolences to all concerned.


Is tomorrow the day for Searchin’ Roc’s? Many think it will be and it’s hard to argue with them. The Awesome Rock filly will start the Listed Belmont Oaks (2000m) as a short-priced favourite following her brilliant effort when second to Devoted in the Belmont Guineas a fortnight ago. Though she has had an interrupted preparation because of her manners behind the barriers, Searchin’ Roc’s represents the class in the field of 10. If she runs the trip, it’s difficult to see how rivals beat her at set weights.


The more they stay the same. In regards to Nick Kyrgios, that is. We all appreciate he is a rare talent. Yet his grubby and childish behaviour on court is not only repetitious but boring. The antics displayed by Kyrgios at Wimbledon during his first-round win dismayed even his most loyal supporters. He was better behaved overnight, but one wonders whether he will ever grow up.


Nobody needs to tell Jason Miller about the highs and lows of racing. For the second successive year, Miller took out the Group 3 Strickland Stakes (2000m) at Belmont, a victory with Prince Turbo that was maybe even more popular than the ill-fated Naughty By Nature’s 2021 triumph. But some gloss was removed from the win when it was revealed that Prince Turbo had suffered another tendon injury and needed to be retired.


You had to scour far and wide to find someone with a bad word to say about Nick Moraitis. And for all your efforts, you were probably going to be disappointed. Immensely popular and best known for owning one of this country’s greatest thoroughbreds, the New Zealand-bred Might And Power, Moraitis lost his lengthy battle with liver cancer this week. He was 87. A successful businessman in the fruit and vegetable industry, Moraitis also owned a string of other successful thoroughbreds while also serving as a Sydney Turf Club director for many years before it merged with the Australian Jockey Club to become the Australian Turf Club.


The Boomers have showcased their depth to hold off China and win their FIBA World Cup qualifier by seven points. Before a big crowd in Melbourne last night, the Brian Goorjian-coached Aussies prevailed 76-69, despite taking to the court with only one member of the bronze medal-winning side in Tokyo — Matthew Dellavedova. The Boomers are 4-0 in their qualification campaign and will play Japan tonight and China again over the weekend before another wave of qualifiers later in the year.


And here we are again. Another racial slur uttered by someone who should know better, in this instance three-time F1 world champion Nelson Piquet towards Lewis Hamilton. The 69-year-old Brazilian used a Portuguese word with strong links to the N-word in most contexts when describing the Brit’s involvement in a crash with Max Verstappen during last year’s British Grand Prix. It just so happens that Verstappen is romantically involved with one of Piquet’s daughters.


The first Test between Australia and Sri Lanka was delicately poised yesterday when Travis Head departed cheaply, leaving the tourists 4-100 in response to Sri Lanak’s first-innings total of 212. Enter Cameron Green. The recently turned 23-year-old strode to the crease and looked assured straight away, combining for important partnerships with Usman Khawaja and Alex Carey before falling for 77. The contest was well and truly tilted in Australia’s favour by the time he departed and while he remains without a Test century still, it is a matter of when, not if, the West Australian reaches triple figures at Test level.


If Channel 7 and Cricket Australia’s working relationship was best described as dysfunctional before, it has surely now progressed beyond the point of no return. Channel 7 has filed proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia to end their $82 million-a-year broadcasting commitment. The existing deal still has two years to run. Cricket Australia conceded they were “astonished” at the stance. Watch this space.