Sometimes the Diggity Doc and the Wildcard talk to each other...
Diggity Doc - El Wildcardo, the Richie McCaw of the Niche Cache, how goes thee?
Wildcard - Diggity Doc, you flatter me. How can I ever hope to live up to that title? I guess I could try win a World Cup title but that's probably best left to the man himself. Man, the more I see of the typically biased media coverage on either side of the ditch (Aussies playing the loud-mouth jerks, Kiwis playing the offended battlers with a chip on the shoulder), the more I realise how high the stakes really are for this final. Like, against South Africa it's all about tough competition and respect. 80 brutal minutes and whoever wins will have earned it, no bitterness. But with Australia vs NZ, whoever wins is gonna be absolutely unbearable towards the loser. This is like a local derby, the loser will be humiliated. Hey, I'm still very confident we'll win, but just in case we don't, it might be a good idea to move the country east a few thousand kms and join South America. Work on our Spanish a bit. I'm not listening to any wise-ass Aussie jabs these next four years.
DD - You are the Richie McCaw of the Nichey Niche so you have nothing to live up to mate ... it's strange being that nice. I like what you said about a local derby between Australia and Aotearoa, we suck at celebrating/getting crazy with rivalries and what not on our shores and Sunday's final is the ultimate peak of trans-Tasman sport. You would have to catch up to me chief - South America love peptides ... and me.
WC - Well, that's something I won't argue with. I tried translating some Spanish headline in my Premier League Predictions this week and that didn't really work out (google translate to the rescue). It's like, New Zealand take their rugby so seriously and Australia don't really take anything seriously (except for minor acts of racism) and they'll just continually keep poking the open would with a stick and laughing in our faces. We know full well they don't make good winners. But then again, neither do we, with our global strangle-hold on attacking rugby justified. We've never won it outside NZ though. That's still a hurdle to get over. Do you think that matters in this case?
DD - I don't think it matters that this is outside of NZ, nah, that won't make it harder for the All Blacks or make the Wallabies better. The Aussies will go hard regardless and it is up to the All Blacks to match that ... which you think they can and then some?
WC - For sure! Look at all the guys probably playing their final games in the black jersey, these are inspiring veterans who'll leave nothing behind. The Aussies have to find a way to control the game, slow down the ABs ball-recycling and capitalise on their own territory when they get it. South Africa did all that except for the first part and they lost. If Australia can force a few more turnovers, keep NZ from busting through the middle then maybe it's a close game. It's no secret that David Pocock will be the key. But I just can't imagine that all going right for them, to be honest. It's a World Cup final though and you never really know, so maybe it's not smart to make bold predictions. Arrgh, after all the other World Cup semis and finals we've played in my memory, I kinda can't wait 'til it's over.
DD - 'Til it is over and there are Kiwis and BLACKCAPS tours to enjoy huh? I wanna talk football because a lot of people have been shitting on football in Aotearoa whether it is thanks to the eligibility dramas or dummy David Gallop. Then I see the Under 17 boys narrowly lose to Brazil and the Phoenix are going as well (plus our Flying Kiwis). It's weird because I love how football's going in Aotearoa yet people can only really see negatives.
WC - Yeah... but maybe I'm one of them because there's definitely a precipice and I am not at all optimistic about the future without the Phoenix. But I am optimistic about the reaction to that because it's becoming clear that Gallop's on his own island here, even the other owners are actively coming out against the idea. Which makes sense, there are sloppier teams out there and they don't wanna see this precedent even with their own 20 year licenses. And the two established Sydney teams, well as far as they're concerned a Cronulla team infringes on their own bottom line. You managed to talk about positive NZ footy without specifically mentioning the All Whites too, which was impressive. They play in a couple weeks and frankly if they don't win then I'm going on a rampage, you're welcome to join me. Heads on spikes. But back to back youth World Cups with knockout kiwi football, Phoenix victories, the ever-expanding realms of Flying Kiwis... this is unprecedented success that's continually being held down by administrational woes, hence the negativity. I'm not blaming people for only seeing those negative because as far as I'm concerned these are problems that should not exist. Very frustrating, I'm sure you agree.
DD - I am far more positive than you regarding the whole sh-bang from the Nix to the All Whites but I get your negativity. Administrational woes ... are NZ Football the worst run sporting organisation in Aotearoa? Just a random thought ya know as all our national bodies like the NZRU or NZ Cricket go pretty well and the various sporting franchises around our land are run pretty effectively besides the Auckland Blues. NZRU and the Breakers at the top ... NZF at the bottom?
WC - Oh there are no shortage of others that challenge them. But yeah, NZ Football have been shooting themselves in the foot recently, the whole eligibility thing was disgraceful and inexcusable and I'm starting to think (countdown to wild, accusatory theory in 3.. 2.. 1...) that the only reason this appeal process was ever started was to drag the affair on long enough that the public lost interest and these jokers can keep their jobs. I wanna clarify I'm not pessimistic about on-the-field things at all, quite the opposite (except for the All Whites). But the bureaucratic crap can be hard to overcome - ask FIFA. It is tough, I'll admit, because that stuff you either get it 100% or people slay you, and human error is always gonna creep in (ask any referee). Not that you can have any sympathy for repeated mistakes and the muppets who make them.
But David Gallop... can you see him backing down on this if the pressure mounts? It's all political now and it reminds me of Roger Goodell in the NFL, constantly doubling down on his own mistakes. And I'd suggest since I'm yet to see anyone say: 'Yeah, kick the Nix to the curb, man!' except for a couple Sydney papers, I'd say this looks like a mistake right now.
DD - Gallop is a very interesting case. A lot of the good stuff that David Smith - who took Gallop's job as top dawg of the NRL - came as Smith sorted out the mess that Gallop had left behind. Gallop now appears set on kicking the Nix to the curb and there is also a weird situation where the Matildas (Oz ladies team) are up in arms about their slave labour. I actually think that the Aussie media outlets who broke this news had the inside word and a few other FFA issues have been played out in the media as well. Clearly Gallop is being a bit dumb and everyone but him can see it - similar to Goodell and similar to that Cairns guy.
WC - Ooh, you're right I'd forgotten about the Matildas situation. Talk about growing the game in Australia, right? Let's just ignore 50% of the population. The worst thing with any politician (and in this day and age, heading a sporting organisation is a political role, 100%) is when they start using their power to go hard at these personal crusades. You're there to represent the people and the fans, not to run plays for yourself. Further example: John Key and his bloody flag referendum. I don't think Gallop is as bad as he's making himself but he seems to have the worst possible characteristic of any politician: An Ego. Again, same as Goodell, same as Cairns. It seems like Cairns used the media to his benefit initially and now that's evening out just as publically. So it goes.
DD - Far too much silliness discussed their mate, I would rather talk about the homie Stevie Adams...
WC - Now there's one to get the good vibes back. Wasn't his best game in the season opener against the Spurs, largely coz he was stuck trying to guard (and being guarded by) Tim Duncan, one of the greatest of all time. But he plugged away and got some really good minutes, playing all the way down the stretch in a big morale-boosting win. Did ya see his alley-oop with D.J. Augustin?
DD - Sure did, it's always good for a kiwi job-doer to get a little highlight ain't it? Did you get a better of Adams' role with the Thunder after that game or did it reinforce what you were already thinking?
WC - Ah, I'd say it more confirmed what I was hoping. He played a little bit with Kanter but mostly it was a rotation between the two, Adams getting more mins and getting the good mins too which is super cool. But Kanter had a really nice game off the bench with a bunch of points and plenty of rebounds - that's exactly what they want from him, to come in against the second teamers and bully them, with Adams' better defence against the best of the opposition rotation. It'd be interesting to see how often Adams gets those fourth quarter minutes though, I'd imagine he plays in close games and Kanter plays when they need points quickly. If they're out there killing teams then may as well throw anyone in. Adams has a cool role because it's an undercover one. Doing a job, as you say. He doesn't need plays run for him so he'll have games where he only has one or two field goal attempts but his crucial aspect is his defence as well as whatever inside presence he can offer on offence in the way of spacing. He's got some great passers around him and he's becoming a menace in the pick and roll. Unfortunately this means the average Joe Kiwi may not appreciate what he offers. Their loss. We love him.
Say, Marty Taupau to the Sea Eagles. What's that all about?
DD - Ah Mr Kapow. Besides the circumstances in which this news broke - so, so, so super dumb and I'm not really sure whether it is the fault of the Tigers or Eagles - I love this move. Taupau had been the low key rumour with Robbie Farah taking the spotlight so it isn't surprising. I think Taupau just wanted out of the Tigers and there's plenty of reasons to pick from while it is an absolute steal for Manly. Nate Myles and Martin Taupau as new recruits, oh and Lewis Brown? Yup, I'd take that.
WC - Haha yeah, leaked emails are the dumbest thing. He feels like an amazing fit, right? (Which I'm not so keen on as a non-Manly fan). Looks like they won't take too much of a hit after Kieran Foran leaves. Actually, it looks like they'll be the ones dishing out the hits. Are we likely to see many more big name moves before the season? Robbie Farah's the only real possibility I can think of and it sounds like he's ready to scrap, but you'd know better than I.
DD - I'm not too sure about big names, Sam Burgess aside although I would say to watch Will Hopoate. The Eels want him on the less money and that situation is ongoing. Other than that there will just be mid-level guys on the move filling rosters. Speaking of Taupau, Kiwis vs England on Monday morning. You gonna pay attention?
WC - Heck yeah I'll pay attention. Though it does clash with a bit of NFL and after some tasty English footy so there'll be some delicate remote play going on. It's like the spectator version of having too many good players to squeeze into a starting lineup (kinda like the kiwis, hey?). A little disappointing that Sam Tomkins won't be playing - he's injured, what a shock - as the battle between him and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, aka Past vs Future, was my most enticing match-up. In the same way that the Aussie vs NZ rivalry carries all that weight, the NZ vs ENG one just isn't the same (ENG vs AUS, on the other hand...). But this is an interesting series all the same. In part coz it's an actual *series*. In part coz this feels like the beginning of a new era for this Kiwis team, one that probably started with the last ANZAC test. Any other secret storylines that need scoping in this one?
DD - Tomkins schmonkins. No secret storylines and they aren't needed as I just want to see the Kiwis in action. Like you said this is about as close as we now get to the old school tours and I reckon it is great for rugby league to have this tour going down. It does mean back to back 5am wake ups which is all good when you have endless peptides like myself.
WC - Oh mate that's my Monday every week, such is the life of a Premier League and NFL writer in NZ. One last thing: Arsenal Football Club... title contender or just early pace-setter. Be as one-eyed as you'd like, i'm genuinely scared that they're in it for the long haul this time. Petr Cech's the difference maker but Ozil and Sanchez are the puppet masters.
DD - Title contenders mate, no need for peptides with those lads!
WC - Just as I feared... Adios, Doc (practising the ol' Spanish just in case).