When your team isn’t going as well as you’d hoped, when results and successes aren’t there to appease the desperate masses, what can they do to inspire?
Easy, announce a new signing. The Warriors did that today with Issac Luke set to join for 2016. The Bunnies released him from the last two years of his contract for it to go through too, so this is some damn fine negotiating. If you need any more proof of that, Luke explicitly mentioned the good work of Jim Doyle in his statement. Luke also said that while he has loved his time with the Rabbitohs, he has been away from home for a long time and he’s always wanted to return to play in New Zealand.
Andy McFadden had this to say: “With the game getting faster and the prospect of the number of interchanges being reduced, 80-minute hookers have become a real asset. Issac is an exceptional dummy half and he underlined that for the Kiwis in the Anzac Test against the Kangaroos. He was outstanding.”
So that suggests a move away from the two-hooker match squads they’ve been running. Nathan Friend is of contract at the end of the season, don’t expect him back, while Thomas Leuluai is booked ‘til 2017 – though he has genuine utility quality with his history playing in the halves.
As for why the Rabbitohs were willing to let him go, it seems to be out of respect for the nine great seasons of service he’s given them, which is heartening to see in the professional world. Luke joins Roger Tuivasa-Sheck as big-name Warriors signings for next season, just gotta get through 2015 first.
Manchester United also went for this route of public relations. They announced last night that they have a deal in place with PSV to sign Dutch wonderkid winger Memphis Depay in the English summer for around £25m.
Depay has scored buckets of goals in the Eredivisie this season, and is familiar with Louis Van Gaal from his time with the Dutch national team. He's a skillful, pacey winger who can play inside and has takes a ruthless free-kick too. Probably in a similar mould to Alexis Sanchez. He's also a bit of a personality and should be plenty of fun in the wild world of English football.
As for United, three straight losses have pretty much cost them a shot at second place in the Premier League, and although they’re still well in the box seat, the Red Devils are gonna have to work to hold off Liverpool for fourth place. But then they’ve already held off Liverpool once this week.
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There are a couple crackers in the NRL tonight, the Broncos face the Panthers (who could welcome back Soward & Taylor – so don’t count ‘em out) while the slumping Roosters can bounce back against the Tigers, who have a point to prove themselves. Both games kick off at 9.30pm. The Warriors play away to the Sharks Saturday at 7.30pm, and the Rabbitohs vs Dragons game is always a feisty derby, that one’s on Monday night.
We also have the Melbourne derby in the A-League tonight, the Victory and City lining up for a spot in the Grand Final, keep an eye on Sydney vs Adelaide tomorrow night also. If English footy is more to your tastes, then definitely set the alarm for Chelsea vs Liverpool at 3am Monday morn – it’s the one-year anniversary of the infamous Gerrard Slip! Man Utd play Crystal Palace 4.30am Sunday, Arsenal face Swansea 7am Tuesday, Man City have QPR at 12.30am Monday and Spurs tackle Stoke away at 2am Sunday. Hull city vs Burnley (2am Sunday) should also have a huge say on the relegation battle, plus there are also Championship playoff first legs to be reckoned with.
The Crusaders play the Rebels tonight at AMI Stadium (7.30pm), which matters for their playoff hopes but perhaps even moreso since it might be Richie and Dan’s last ever Super Rugby games in Christchurch. End of an era… The Hurricanes also play overnight against the Lions in South Africa, while the Blues play the Chiefs tomorrow night and the Highlanders get a bye.
The Blackcaps tonight begin their English tour, with their first warm-up match – a three-dayer against Somerset. There’s also plenty of ANZ Cup netball and domestic basketball to stay alert on. Likewise, hit up ESPN tomorrow from midday when they have an NBA playoffs double header: The Cavs at the Bulls then the Rockets at the Clippers. Basically all NBA from here on is a must watch.
And if you’re still having boxing hangovers after the so-called Fight of the Century, then get a look in on Canelo Alvarez’s bout against James Kirkland on Sunday afternoon. Should be a bruiser as Canelo looks to get back to the stuff that got him a challenge at Floyd Mayweather last year.