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Thread: Fitz Files 28/8/11

  1. #1
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    Fitz Files 28/8/11

    Long dark cloud looms over All Blacks
    Peter FitzSimons
    August 27, 2011
    The Fitz Files

    Illustration: John Shakespeare
    LATE on Tuesday morning, TFF happened to be in the Brisbane Hilton just a couple of doors down from the news conference where the All Blacks World Cup squad was being announced, so I wandered in. And I have good news. They seemed tense. Not anxious, by any means, just deadly, deadly earnest and tight inside. To me - and you can eat your heart out, Siggy Freud, at the depth of my psychoanalysis - they look like a team keenly aware of the crushing expectations on them, the sad history of equally strong All Blacks teams falling at the last, or second-last, or third-last hurdle in the World Cup, and maybe, just maybe, wilting under it a little. For the best teams have some sense of fun, some notion it is only rugby after all, and that if there isn't a laugh here and there, there is not a whole lot of point. Fortunately, for the Wallabies in the past fortnight - contemplating the travails of "Brand" O'Connor and his "alarm clock" - having a few laughs shouldn't have been a problem.

    Did Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper and James O'Connor engage in a little fisticuffs on the Wallabies' spring tour in November? I don't know and I don't particularly care. I am told from an impeccable source on that tour that if it did happen, he didn't know about it at the time, so it was certainly no big deal. And even if it did, so what? That kind of stuff occurs even between the firmest of friends. A case in point is the two men who are the alternative prime minister and treasurer of this country, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, who, as I have noted before, went at each other during a scrum training session at Sydney University in the mid-1980s, with many blows thrown. No particular big deal at the time, or since. So long as property isn't damaged and it doesn't create any kind of public scene, ugly headlines or lasting rift, it is not something that actually needs to be investigated.

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    There was an interesting vignette in Wests Tigers' crushing defeat of the Eels last Sunday at the SFS. Late in the first half, the Tigers' nuggety halfback Robert Lui broke no fewer than four tackles and was finally smothered by desperate Eels defenders when, somehow, from out of the mess of humanity, his Inspector Gadget hand emerged to give Balmain winger Blake Ayshford a miracle pass, from which he scored. As soon as Ayshford put the ball down he pointed back at Lui, by way of saying, "Mate, that was your try more than mine, and I thank you for giving me the miracle pass that made it happen. It's all about you, not me." And he was right. Such acknowledgement is humble, and right. But here's the question: Why do you mostly see such acknowledgments in league and union, but never in soccer? Why, in soccer, as soon as the miracle pass comes, does the bloke who puts it in the net never acknowledge the passer, but instead charges away towards the crowd going "Me! Me! ME! I DID THAT!"

    Bravo to Ian Chappell, Doug Walters, Dave Sincock, John Eales, Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler, Mario Fenech, Trent Barrett, Louise Sauvage and James Pittar, who were among many sports stars who this week attended Truscott Street Public School's 21st sports day for kids with disabilities. Organiser Tom Organ reports: "The school hall was buzzing and these people made the kids feel like champions.''

    A reader makes an interesting point. Nudging 30 years on, the Swans still have SMFC stamped on the backs of their jerseys, as in "South Melbourne Football Club". They might be able to get away with calling it Far North Melbourne Football Club, but with the advent of the Greater Western Sydney side, it might be time to lose or try and erase the transplant scar? When I asked Swans chairman Richard Colless about this, he said: "The club in various incarnations traces its origin back to 1874. Over a hundred years of that history therefore is built around the club being domiciled in Melbourne. For us it's the same club but with a different address. It's a small concession to make to have the SMFC on the back of the jumper. The colours/song/records etc. remain unchanged. The players really embrace the history. And I don't think any Sydney-based supporters begrudge the club's provenance being publicly acknowledged in the way that it is.''

    Fitzphile businessman Peter Sweeney gives his assessment of the James O'Connor imbroglio: "Brand O'Connor has suffered a major slump since listing only a few weeks ago. Chief executive and the only shareholder, Mr J. O'Connor, confirmed today that analysis by his management had reviewed their business model and were still perplexed. There was full acknowledgement that the key product licensed under the O'Connor brand got very, very pissed and just could not make it along to the announcement of the World Cup squad or even the team photograph. Shareholders are very keen to tell this enterprise just how the brand could be properly repositioned, and it may hurt!"

    This week, Ricky Ponting laid it all out for ''The big worry I've had about Twenty20 cricket and even other shorter forms of the game being played at really developmental times in kids' careers is that it won't teach them the art of concentration. Cricket for me when I was growing up meant batting until someone got me out, and if that took them a week then that's how long it took them. Now, even under-17s and under-19s are playing T20 games in national championships, and at the detriment of two-day games. Good state players these days are averaging 35; if you were averaging 35 when I was playing your dad would go and buy you a basketball or a footy and tell you to play that. So there are areas of concern there; I don't know how you change them.''

    What they said
    Tiger Woods: ''What am I looking for? Two things: a person with a lot of experience, and a person I'll have fun with.'' Oh, cut it out. He was referring to his search for a new caddy.

    A spokeswoman for Shane Warne denying a report he and Liz Hurley are to be married. ''It's not true, it's just rumours.'' And in any case, a bloke like Warne would never just confirm a rumour like that. He'd sell exclusive rights to the highest bidder.

    Peter Roebuck on the structure of Cricket Australia: ''Jack Clarke, the chairman, [is] a likeable lightweight, [who] ought to have been ditched long ago .. . At least Matthew Hayden has been replaced on the board by Michael Kasprowicz. Whereas the former opener talks gibberish, the speedster is eminently sensible.''

    Collingwood captain Nick Maxwell decides a little tick-boxing might be the best way to get back from injury: ''If I start looking ahead I'll worry about what I'm doing right now and stuff up what I'm doing right now. I just want to tick all the boxes today, I'll tick them tomorrow and then just keep working that way.'' Sounds like a plan.

    A jocular Kurtley Beale responds to a question as to why he had suddenly sported a black eye before the France Test last November: ''The boys tell me I have black eyes all the time.''

    Harry Kewell on signing with Melbourne Victory: ''I am proud to be Australian, and want to give something back to the game there.'' This, at the end of months of negotiations about just how much money you can squeeze out of Australian clubs, through a percentage of their box-office receipts? Please.

    Graham Henry, announcing the All Blacks' World Cup squad, and explaining there was room for three hookers, but only one open-side breakaway: ''When I come back in the next life, I want to be a hooker.'' Move on. Move on, I say!

    John Eales, in an open letter of advice to new Wallabies captain, James Horwill: ''They say the key to leadership in rugby is keeping the seven guys who hate you away from the seven guys who haven't made up their mind yet.''

    This sign hangs on Holroyd Oval, just minutes from the headquarters of the Parramatta Eels. ''This oval is only to be used for approved AFL training and games. Use for other sports and activities is not permitted.'' Yes, there is a battle for sporting hearts and minds and bums on seats in Sydney's west, but why a council would place such a sign on a piece of publicly owned property is beyond me. Google ''sporting apartheid'' for the full story.

    James O'Connor fronts up after going AWOL the night before the announcement of the Wallabies' World Cup squad: ''I just want to apologise for letting everyone down. I want to apologise to my fans, my teammates and myself as well.'' Apologising to yourself is like speaking about yourself in the third person. Discuss.

    Team of the Week
    Darryl Brohman. The likeable leaguie is the new face of Jenny Craig. Yes, folks, when you realise that the elephant in the room is YOU, call Darryl!

    Lasith Malinga. The Sri Lankan fast bowler with the lethal slingshot action became the first player to take three one-day international hat-tricks, this one at the expense of the Australians.

    Melbourne Storm. Have now nailed 12 wins in a row.

    Dougal Graham. The Sydneysider in his late 70s has just reffed his 3000th game, mostly with kids. Well done, oh good and faithful soccer servant.

    Carlton captain Chris Judd and wife Rebecca. Knocked back buckets of money from the women's magazines for exclusive photos of their first child, just as they did with their wedding.

    Inverell Highlanders rugby club thirds. Put the Narrabri Blue Boars to the sword last Saturday to give Inverell some crucial silverware for the club mantelpiece for the year.

    Stuart Johnson. Has just completed a double crossing of the English Channel (Dover to Cap Gris Nez and back) in just under 26 hours.

    Woden Valley Redbacks under-14 girls soccer team. After doing their own fund-raising to get to Denmark, won the prestigious Dana Cup, beating a Swedish team in the final.

    The King's School 16Cs. Went through the rugby season undefeated, including two wins against Joeys - both at Joeys - with 308 points for and 24 against from only 10 matches. More importantly, they were good sports about it.

    Simon Katich. Could he make a Test comeback, now that Andrew Hilditch is no longer chairman of selectors?

    Geoff Coy. After he began playing in 1962, the Thornleigh Thunder Football Club player is bringing up his 50th season of soccer. Bravo.

    Sammy Perrett and Willie Mataka. TFF hears the two Roosters have eschewed the "ink, drink and a stink" pastimes preferred by a couple of their teammates, and have instead been very good to a desperately ill Roosters fan.

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  2. #2
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    I thought it would only be a matter of time before an ex player came out with the "fighting isn't a bad thing, it's actually a good thing, (insert training example here)"...
    No surprise that it would be Fitzzy either.
    The difference between a flair up in the heat of training, especially between players competing for selection and (allegedly) a public drunken biff session while representing your nation in another country is massive.

    As for KB's line, I find it funny, but I wonder what would be made of it if one of the others involved had said the same thing as a mate? Dangerous ground to tread.

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