It's been an interesting weekend involving New Zealand football teams with Auckland City FC taking working their way to the semi finals of the Club World Cup. Interesting, nah that's just plain awesome! But the irony of the Phoenix playing another match at Eden Park in front of another mediocre Auckland crowd can't be lost ... but Auckland City! Next up they play the champions from Argentina, San Lorenzo and they are likely to receive a hefty pay ... nah screw the money, this is beyond a few extra pennies in the back pocket. Auckland City FC are in the semi finals, they've done better than the Western Sydney Wanderers and could, they could line up against Real Madrid.
The opportunity of playing against some of the best footballers in the world, not just those from Madrid but genuine professionals would be amazing for these lads. I won't count the chickens just yet, but already by making the semi's they have shaken things up. I mean look at the winning goal from John Irving, it's worthy of being a clutch goal on a big stage.
As I said, this took place as the Wellington Phoenix put in a battling performance against the Central Coast Mariners. I'll save the deep diving in to the game itself for Ernie! but you have to genuinely ask - what's the point of playing in Auckland? I'm an Aucklander and I'm saying that, so imagine how all the Wellingtonians feel! If Eden Park was buzzing, tickets selling like hot cakes and Nix able to make some cash, then it would be worthwhile but I don't think any of those things happened. It's not like Aucklanders can't go watch the Nix, I mean a bunch of the Yellow Fever came up to Auckland for the weekend so any Jaffa can make a weekend of watching their Nix.
The Plunket Shield, do you know what it is? It's the best cricket competition in Aotearoa and it's serving up many an interesting storyline. Guys are performing, it's that simple and we have guys who are on the fringe/up and comers who are at least getting their 'Knock Doors Down, Demanding Selection' campaigns underway. Neil Wagner got a 4-for, Ish Sodhi got 8 wickets (5, 3), Mark Craig got a hundy down the order, Joe Carter and Michael Bracewell both got Young Gun hundys, Doug Bracewell got 9 (6, 3), Matt Quinn picked up a fair few wickets as well and of course big old Peter Fulton banged a double. Thank god that Super Smash thing finished.
Michael Clarke's recent injury setback is extremely serious. No shit Sherlock, but a very serious injury situation for someone on the wrong side of 30 isn't a great scenario. Especially as he's tried to return numerous times this year only to tweak something along the back + hammy chain. Now the Aussies face an interesting decision to either keep Brad Haddin as skipper or look to Steve Smith. Personally, I reckon they should sit on the fence a little and go with Haddin but give Smith the opportunity to chime in. I don't think Australian cricket needs a young captain right now, they need a solid leader but Smith definitely deserves the chance to step up.
Everything out of Jarryd Hayne's camp is positive with regards to his NFL career. He's got an NFL agent, he's been training the house down and a few teams are interested - Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle and Philly seem to be the main ones. Hayne is extremely impressive and this journey is highlighting that fact, the dude has one goal on his mind and he's not in California living it up, he's doing what needs to be done. Everything he's doing points towards him being a success and if I had to put a wager on it, I'd say he's going to be a decent NFL running back ................................................................... with Seattle.
There was a wee story that Mark Gasnier might try his hand at this NRL 9's stuff with the Dragons. Cool, it was cool seeing Brad Fittler scoot away for a try last year but the 9's has to be slightly weary of turning in to a circus. I don't want to pay any money to watch old guys run around, I want to pay money to see the new breed who can genuinely blow our minds with their freakish talent. Can't they just have a tournament for the elderly on Eden Park's #2 ground?
Ah Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao, May 2! Ummmm, maybe. Floyd called out Manny to step up to the plate and people seemed to think that it is a done deal. I'm not so sure, there's a lot that has to go right and well, I'm not sure either of them really want this fight. Simply put, it's hard to see them agreeing to the financials as they're both on different deals with opposing networks (Showtime vs HBO) ... it's hard to see Mayweather accepting a deal where the pay packet is similar for each of them.
This footage of Sam Burgess gets me thinking - is he the perfect player to do a role in England's mid-field especially in English conditions? Anyway, here's him trying to tackle blokes properly