Friday Frills - 10 Things I Think

1) I think the Springboks will offer a stern challenge to the All Blacks in the first Rugby World Cup semi-final. Not much media has zoned in on South Africa, besides the classic 'we're the underdog and they are the favourite' narrative from Heyneke Meyer, which is dangerous because I think the 'Boks deserve a wee bit more caution. Any team who can leave Victor Matfield on their bench because the two starting locks in Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager have been great all tournament, is fairly strong. 

South Africa's best chance of victory is to do a far better job at what France tried to do in the quarter-final by slowing the All Blacks down and beating them up in the forwards. France couldn't win their own line-outs and were too laboured around the field to keep up with the All Blacks, which the Springboks must have noted. I'm pretty excited by the match up in the midfield with Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith easily the best midfield combo in the world while Jesse Kriel and Damien De Allende are the up and comers; this could be the veterans flexing their muscle or the youngsters taking the torch off the vets. 

I'm going to sit on the fence here and I have no shame in doing so. She'll be one hell of a game though, which is part of the reason we'll all be up at 4am on Sunday morning.

2) I think I am less intrigued by the other semi-final between Australia and Argentina, but not by much. Australia should win and I don't think Argentina will back up their sizzling quarter-final display, I do however love how Argentina have turned this World Cup into a reasonably successful World Cup. It's hard not to love what teams like Argentina and Japan offer to world rugby, hence it's so cool that they will now roll out a Super Rugby team each. Take your mind back though to when Argentina lost to the All Blacks in Christchurch, which was clearly a sub-par performance from Argentina or a starting point for their World Cup campaign as they worked their way towards their strongest showing last week. Imagine the uproar if the All Blacks had slipped up like that, despite it being blatantly obvious that it meant absolutely nothing - kiwis would lose the plot. 

3) I think Corey Webster is back .../I know Corey Webster is back! 22 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists in his first game back for the NZ Breakers against the Sydney Kings. Webster's return from the NBA preseason doesn't raise expectations or pressure on him, it just makes me excited to see what Webster's going to serve up in the ANBL this season. You would have to imagine that spending a few weeks in an NBA set up, training with some bloke named Anthony Davis (and general NBA players) would make you a better basketball player and a better Corey Webster alongside Cedric Jackson has me frothing.

4) I think we might get a reality check courtesy of the Australian cricket team. I hope not, I really hope that the BLACKCAPS can win the series, or win a Test and be competitive but the more I think about it the more I am slightly scared by the Aussies. We'll get our first glimpse today and this weekend as the BLACKCAPS get a few tour games under their belt so it will be interesting to see how our batsmen go against a fringe-Test bowling attack and also how our bowlers go against batsmen who are competing for Test batting spots. Otherwise, I wouldn't read too much into this weekend's fixtures; it's going to be a lot different to facing Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazlewood on a quick Gabba pitch.

5) I think I am liking where this Penrith Panthers/Phil Gould/Ivan Cleary situation is going. Gould came out and said "I think we burned him out" which is pretty weird and a little arrogantly like saying: 'I think we were too much for him' as Gould continues to pump out this narrative of Cleary needing a break and so on. I call bullshit and it's pretty clear to me that regardless of what Gould or Cleary says, that there's some personal issue that serves us the undertone to all of this. I like Gould, but I like Cleary more so I'll be pretty happy to see the Panthers suck next season. 

6) I think an Australian story about Warriors head hauncho Jim Doyle being the perfect man to take over David Smith at NRL HQ is scary. Doyle is the perfect man to lead the NRL, which is why it's scary because he's just started to put his own systems in place at Mt Smart and we've only seen the start of his influence on the club. If Doyle were to leave the Warriors to re-join the NRL, it would be highly shit.

6) I think I fell in love ... with this Kiwis team to face Leeds tomorrow morning kiwi time. Peta Hiku will start in the halves which is funky, he's done it before in the NRL though and I look forward to seeing him combine with Tui Lolohea who starts at halfback. Jordan Kahu slots in at centre which is a great opportunity for him to showcase his skill while Kodi Nikorima will come off the bench along with Sio Siua Taukeiaho. If you hadn't noticed just how beastly the Kiwis forward pack is and has been recently - you're a bit dumb and any chance we get to see such a good pack in action is lovely while the backline is low key impressive as well. Get excited!

7) I think I said it would be a travesty if the Black Sticks men didn't qualify for the Rio Olympics via the Oceania Cup, oh yup, I did say that. It's not a travesty to lose to Australia twice - the kiwis went down 3-1 to Australia last night - as the Aussies are exceptional, it's a travesty that things have got to this point. There's still hope though because Australia won the first battle and the war is still up for grabs in the final on Sunday.

8) I think ... I don't know what I think about the Silver Ferns. They lost again to Australia (fucking Aussies) and clearly aren't in the same class despite shoving this 'when we get it right, it's hard to stop' shit down our throats. I think they think they are the All Blacks and that they are the lords of free-flowing, fun-filled, funkadelic sport but that only works if you win and right now netball in Aotearoa has some serious work to do.

9) I think the Wellington Phoenix are on the rough end of a smear campaign at the hands of Australian media - yes you, you Sydney Morning Herald plonkers - as they continue to roll out stories about the Nix being booted out of the A-League. There is however a chance that the Aussies are right and that the Football Federation Australia would rather see another Sydney club as opposed to renewing the Phoenix's A-League licence for 10 more years. Obviously we all hope that the Phoenix get that 10 year licence because we see first hand how awesome it is to have a decent football team what is football's equivalent of the NRL, ANZ Championship or Super Rugby - let's hope that this is just a smear campaign from Australian media and that there isn't much substance to these stories.

10) I think this is amazing...