A Nichey Niche Convo - Thanks For The Memories Burnsy

Sometimes the Diggity Doc and the Wildcard talk to each other...

Diggity Doc - Heyo el Wildcardo, I thought I may have to go back on my 'American tennis sucks' comments from our Niche Cast on Wednesday, but it turns out that Dustin Brown is German/Jermaican! How good is that ... but what about poor Rafa?

Wildcard - Yeah I feel really bad about that one. Not because Rafa lost, he's a pro and this is part of the game, but because I kinda had a feeling that he might slip up early in the tournament and I just wish I'd have dumped a couple bucks on an informal wager. Sometimes you just see it coming, ya know? Then again, hindsight has a way of making some dumb thoughts seem legit by complete fluke. We went through a stretch there for maybe a couple years where the same four men made the semi-finals of every major every time and if one missed out in the quarters or something it was a massive deal. Part of me enjoys that whole thing breaking down, though part of me misses the infallibility too.

DD - Mate, you can't tell me after Rafa looses that you had a feeling. That don't fly with me, but I definitely had a  feeling about Dustin Brown, I always knew he'd be a goodun' ... I joke, I joke. We won't dwell on Wimbledon because there's a whole bunch of other shit going down, mainly the departure of Nathan Burns. His move to Tokyo looks to be done like a dinner, what's your vibe with this?

WC - That's what I mean about the hindsight thing. I had a feeling but I never went on the record, well maybe it wasn't much of a feeling then. But if you'd asked me before the comp which top seed is most likely to be bundled out early, I'd have said Rafa - though so might have most people. Yeah, pour one out for the reigning Johnny Warren Medalist. He's going but he'll never be forgotten. Damn, he's earned this, though. FC Tokyo is the top team in Japan, which is a high standard league. It's a step up and one that he's shown he is ready for based on last season. You can't blame a guy for moving on to bigger and better things so best of luck to Burnsy all the way. He now joins an illustrious group of one-season wonders for the Phoenix who didn't completely suck.

DD - Amen to that and it shows that the Nix can be cunning in their recruitment and get the most out of players, while pushing them to a higher level at the same time. I think there's that revolving door type of vibe with the Breakers as well; you've got a strong core but then other players come and go but it's up to you to pick the right players to buy in to what you're doing and extract every bit of goodness from them. I don't think we need to get too sad about this and personally I'm far more interested in seeing what the Phoenix do to replace Burns. They'll be on the hunt for a quality striker, but it could mean more game time for up and comers as well.

WC - Definitely. And we all knew that this was a possibility/likelihood if he had a good season. Plus, underrated factor, the Nix will probably get a transfer fee for the bloke too which is always handy for a kiwi sports side. Might get some new away jerseys with the money, or maybe spruce up the training pitch, repaint the markings, buy a few brighter coloured cones and flags. Or maybe Ernie should shout himself a bottle of something since he deserves plenty of credit here. It's a shame he won't be playing for the Nix next season, Burnsy, but this is a massive boost to the club (maybe even to the A-League). It shows there are pathways forward and this kind of move is gonna make it easier to sign better players in the future (and maybe now, coz we pretty much need one to replace him).

DD - How do you see the Nix going about replacing Burns?

WC - Short answer: I don't.

Long answer: Umm... maybe they don't go down the same road. Get a different type of striker in there, one more suited to leading the line more than drifting and taking on defenders. A proper centre-forward, then you've got the likes of Wee Mac, Roly Poly, Krishna and a couple others to play outside them and create. No idea who that might be, but that's not my job. Let the scouts sort that one out. Kenny Cunningham's gone, so there's an open spot for an international player there.

DD - Yeah not replacing what Burns did or can do, but filling that striking spot he left behind. I reckon it's a good chance to get a straight up and down goal-poaching striker in there to compliment the strengths of McGlinchey and Krishna. Burns was pretty similar to Krishna which gave us a threat on either flank with good pace and 1 v 1 ability but sometimes we were lacking a finisher to just add the polish inside the box

WC - For sure, we had a lot of guys with similar talents and styles and not much variation up front. Joel Griffiths briefly gave us that, then he got injured. You touched on this before though, and I wanna bring it up again: there's no shortage of young guns waiting in the wings either, half that U20 World Cup squad are either under youth contracts or would be available. Can't expect a teeneger to carry the load in the A-League but there's depth there coming through that we don't always know about.

Can you do me a favour, Doc? Can you assure me that Wes Matthews and DeAndre Jordan are both gonna sign with the Dallas Mavericks? They may have already done so by publishing, or maybe it'll be a few more days. NBA Free Agency moves so fast that it seems to happen in slow motion, if that make sense. Oh, and how you feeling about this worse case scenario version for the Lakers so far?

DD - Who do you think can make the step up and get more game time for the Nix? Aah imagine how awesome it would be if local sporting comps had a free agency period because this shit is wild.

It looks like the Lakers might have another sniff for LaMarcus Aldridge but I'm not sure and the worst case scenario actually looks pretty likely - they don't get a big name and struggle again. To be honest, I'm not too fussed because all the other teams are pretty exciting and the Lakers have been uber dumb. I really, really wanna see Aldridge in San Antonio, that would be funky. Lets breeze over the Mavs, how are you feeling about the other free agents?

WC - Mate, all I needed was an assurance. I'm getting worried that they might slip away and the Mavs'll have to make do with another overachieving patchwork roster. Ah well, beats being the Knicks or Lakers these days, both with patchwork teams but neither with a good enough coach to make it work. I think LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs is gonna happen, so do a lot of people. The Lakers might get David Lee, he'll go alright if he's fit. My ideal situation is that Boogie Cousins becomes a Laker but I'm not guaranteed the Lakers have the chips to trade for him. Boogie deserves better, the Sacramento Kings are a disaster right now. Other free agents? Well, I'm sentimental with these things, so I've loved seeing the likes of Draymond Green, Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade, Paul Millsap, Danny Green, Brandon Knight, Kawhi Leonard and, of course, Tim Duncan all staying put where they were. Having said that, I'm less stoked with Kevin Love as a Cav because it's boring and DeAndre better get the hell outta LA and soon.

As for Phoenix breakouts, Matt Ridenton's been getting a rough time of it in the NZ youth teams, but he's gotta be in the mix based on what he's done in the past. And one guy I reckon most may have forgotten about is Kwabena Appiah, who joined late last season but didn't make an impact at first as he settled. Could be one to watch out for.

DD - Yeah it has been quite refreshing to see guys stick it out with multi year deals and stay loyal to their current teams. I just like the new NBA we have, it's pretty cool. There we go, defs forgot about Appiah and we didn't really get to see him so he is still a bit of an unknown huh?
What do you make of Chris Wood moving to Leeds?

WC - Ooh, yes. There's one that nearly escaped me. It definitely snuck past a lot of people. It's a good move in that he'll get regular football and that's something he should be desperate for. Certainly something he needs. The fact that he gave it a year to try crack the Leicester team in the Premier League is admirable and valiant but from the time he went on loan to Ipswich it was clear that it wasn't gonna happen. Even a new manager isn't gonna change that. He needs to prove himself with minutes and goals and Leeds should give him that. The other side of the coin is that Leeds is even more of a disaster organisation these days than the Sacramento Kings (though not quite as bad as the Parramatta Eels). Hopefully they're turning things around, but at one point last season players were refusing to play. Their chairman is a nutcase who's fallen out with every manager he's had and there's only ever one winner in that situation.

Speaking of the Parramatta Eels, and words on Kieran Foran now that he's re-committed to them? I notice his get-out-of-jail-free card has been changed from boardroom guarantees to guarantees of Brad Arthur as coach. Great news for Brad Arthur, that.

DD - Yeah I was gonna say that my superficial knowledge of Leeds is that they've had an almighty fall from grace - the days of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka. Aslong as he's playing and scoring then it is a good spot for him.

Yeah very good deal for Arthur and I don't think we can sleep on how important he was in getting Anthony Watmough to the Eels as well. Foran's deal re-jig just seemed to be about sealing Arthur as his coach and aslong as that happened it was allgeezy. Interestingly I read that a swap between Foran and Josh Reynolds was also a possibility, involving Foran the Sea Eagle that is.

WC - That... is not a deal I'd have sprung for. There was so much speculation over Foran, but there was also an underlying sense that he'd still go through with the deal so long as it could be restructured into something everyone could agree on. It'd be interesting to think what might have happened with Kieran Foran on the Dogs though, jeez. Haha, the days of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka, yep, those are loooong gone. But they've had success with down-under strikers so maybe Woody's the next one, the one to return them to where they once were. Maybe... or maybe not. Leeds are still pretty trashy.

DD - That's a great angle there - Leeds United keeping the down under connection alive and well. Mate, who ya got in the Super Rugby?

WC - The 'Canes. Team of Destiny. It's only right given the Jerry Collins tragedy. How about ya self and who ya got in Origin 3 (subject to change and bias, of course)?

DD - I drink Speights so we'll go with the Highlanders and I gotta run with Cooper Cronk's return being good enough to steer Queensland to victory but really, who knows. You?

WC - I'm on the fence. Well, more accurately I've been jumping back and forth over the fence, seeing which side has greener grass and which side has more expensive physios. At this particular co-ordinate on the time/space continuum... I'll pick New South Wales. They'd better bloody win anyway because they're borrowing the Dragons' two best players in the midst of an injury crisis.

DD - Well you've just got to swim up the beach to Cronulla to find me and my peptide slanging tent. Enjoy the action and stay trashy mate

WC - Yeah sweet, I'll put Joel Thompson and Tyson Frizell in touch. Adios, Doc.