Auckland Blues coach Sir John Kirwan today confirmed that Rugby League convert Benji Marshall would feature at fullback in next year’s Super Rugby competition as a way of hiding his defensive frailties from opposition teams.
At the launch of the Blues’ 2014 squad, Kirwan said that it was obvious “even to a blind man” that Marshall lacked any defensive ability and that the Blues had signed the League star purely as an attempt to encourage Auckland Warriors fans to switch codes too.
“We’ve all seen the magic that Benji can create on attack,” Kirwan wrote into a large sandpit with a stick, “but we also know that defensively he couldn’t tackle a paraplegic in a wheelchair. Obviously we can’t afford to have that type of defensive weakness at halfback or first five, so we figured sticking Benji at fullback would minimise the chances that he’d embarrass himself by trying to tackle anyone.”
Kirwan went on to also write that “The All Blacks and Crusaders already hide Israel Dagg’s lack of tackling ability in the same way, so we figured it must be a pretty successful measure,” before he ran out of room in the sandpit.
For his part, Benji Marshall is said to be excited about his positional switch, “Absolutely am I excited,” Marshall said while Kirwan continued to stare blankly into the middle distance. “Being at fullback means I get to do all the flashy stuff like catching balls, passing balls and kicking balls without having to worry about big guys trying to run at me. If someone does run at me, I’ll just blame the guys up front for not making their first up tackles. So it’s pretty much a win win for everyone.”
Self-appointed “greatest athlete ever” Sonny Bill Williams has today admitted that his in-goal gaffe that cost the Kiwis a try in their Rugby League World Cup opener against Samoa was done purely as a way to get his name back into the media spotlight.
After two weeks where the media was more focused on the playoffs of the ITM Cup, Sebastian Vettel’s imminent fourth Formula 1 world championship title, Lydia Ko’s decision to turn pro and trying to find ways to inject interest into the Silver Ferns Test series against Malawi, Sonny Bill Williams revealed that he felt like people were at risk of forgetting him.
“It was a pretty dark couple of weeks for me not being contacted by journos,” Williams said after Kiwi’s training today. “I mean, with all the other things going on in the world of sport, I didn’t want sponsors forgetting that I’m their favourite walking headline, so I knew I needed to do something to get everyone’s attention back.
“Khoder (Nasser – Williams’ manager) suggested I could try and spear tackle or polearm one of the Samoan players, but I didn’t want to let people in on the secret that I’m a pretty poor defender. So instead, when I realised I could run too far into the in-goal, slip over and stuff up that try and get on highlight reels around the world, it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Williams went on to add that he hadn’t apologised to his team mates for the botched try as he felt that they should “just be grateful to on the same field as me” and that he’ll consider helping throw any playoff games the Kiwi’s make if the media continue to ignore him in favour of other sporting codes.
In the wake of their last minute 2 – 1 defeat on Sunday afternoon to the Brisbane Roar, Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick has revealed that the loss was a “positive first step in the challenge of adding more cutlery to join our wooden spoon that we won last season.”
“Only once we have a full cupboard of cutlery will we be in a position to add any crockery to our kitchen,” Merrick said in the post-match press conference, “and then we might think of getting some silverware at some point after that.”
Stand-in captain, Ben Sigmund, who cut a dejected figure following the injury time defeat, said that the team was right behind Merrick’s cutlery quest. “I think Merrick’s decision to use kitchen metaphors to motivate the boys is great,” Sigmund said. “Paul Ifill reckons that Merrick might be talking about actual spatulas and whisks, but I’m pretty sure he’s referring to the long process of rebuilding this team from the ground up, which is exactly what Ricki Herbert said he was doing for each of his six years here. So his words really resonate with the lads.”
When asked about what the Phoenix could do to improve on their defeat, Sigmund had only one suggestion, “I figure if I just keep stomping on opposition strikers, then no one will want to score goals against us. I mean, I didn’t stomp on anyone tonight and look what happened.”
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has confirmed that in exchange for the Government agreeing to fund Emirates Team New Zealand’s next America’s Cup challenge, the team will be required to have National Party branding displayed prominently on the sail.
Steven Joyce confirmed the arrangement today on TV3’s Firstline as he sought to reassure New Zealanders that Team New Zealand would be in a solid position to ensure that there wouldn’t be an exodus of talent from the team post this year’s disappointment in San Francisco.
“This Government is absolutely committed to ensuring National Party branding is on Team New Zealand’s next boat,” Joyce said. “I have no doubt that knowing that the representatives of Auckland’s wealthiest families will be just what the sailors need to realise that they don’t need to go overseas chasing lucrative contracts with other teams. They can stay right here in New Zealand and want for nothing, except possibly success or international recognition. But who really wants those aside from Peter Jackson?”
John Key has also indicated that he will personally back the challenge from his own wealth after joining Joyce in the Firstline studio , though Key’s backing will be in exchange for a portrait of the Prime Minister will need to feature on the boat’s code zero sail. Key said that he was “very excited about the hole thing and I’ve been practicing shaking hands and looking awkward in photos especially for it,” before he was quickly ushered out of the studio by Joyce.
Team New Zealand skipper, Dean Barker, wasn’t immediately available for comment as the journalist could not walk him from what appeared to be an alcohol induced coma in a gutter outside Shed 10 in Auckland.
The seven fans likely to turn up to the Wellington Phoenix’s match against Brisbane Roar on Sunday evening are being warned to expect delays after club owner Gareth Morgan instructed Westpac Stadium security that all Phoenix games this season were to be “no cat” zones in support of his Cats To Go campaign.
Fans will have their belongings extensively checked, as well as full strip searches conducted, prior to entry into the stadium in order to ensure that no cats are smuggled inside the venue. Morgan, who captured national headlines earlier this year when he launched the campaign using misquoted science and inflammatory graphics, said that he wanted to drive home how important making New Zealand cat free was to him.
“If there’s one thing I learned from my recent trip to North Korea, it’s that removing free choice and personal liberties from your citizens means that the authorities can achieve some pretty spectacular results,” Morgan said in a phone interview with Radio Sport’s Kent Johns, “I mean, the North Koreans has managed to achieve nuclear armament, ballistic missiles and a poor imitation of the iPad by restricting their people’s diets to a handful of rice every second day with a side of old shoe leather. So I figure we can replicate that type of admirable resourcefulness by making an example from Phoenix fans.”
When asked whether Morgan himself would be impacted by the additional delays on entering the stadium, Morgan replied that he wasn’t planning on attending Sunday’s game as he was “pretty sure the neighbour’s cat has been sneaking into my yard. I’ll be busy staging a 24 hour surveillance exercise to trap and execute the offending pussy.”
Former All Blacks great Jonah Lomu has expressed sadness that the New Zealand Rugby Union failed to give him a job after his 2004 retirement from rugby, consigning him to a monotonous life of doing sponsorship work for Adidas, staging numerous rugby comebacks and collecting royalties for his autobiography, which he coincidentally launched a new edition of today.
Lomu spoke at length on TVNZ’s Breakfast show this morning where said he was disappointed with the attitude that the NZRU had taken with him post his playing days, “It was hugely disappointing,” Lomu said, “I tried everything to keep myself in the headlines, injuring myself, getting a kidney transplant, dressing in pimp suits, having a public falling out with my manager, doing ‘This is your life’, but the NZRU wouldn’t give me a job. I even offered them my services at a hugely discounted rate of one bucket load of money less than what Adidas was paying me.”
Having permanently changed the style of wingers that the Hurricanes select, Lomu said he was still struggling to make the adjustment from professional sports star to endorsement extraordinaire, “I went from a fairly rigorous training and travel schedule with the All Blacks to having to wine and dine international celebrities, get interviewed by star-struck journalists such as you, and smile for photos that are just going to be replaced by video clips of my 1995 World Cup exploits. People just don’t know how hard it is to travel in business class and get put up a five-star hotels all of the time.”
Lomu went on to complain that “If that’s not enough, now I have to try and get people to buy yet another edition of my autobiography, and make them forget that everything they could read in there has already played out in the media over the past few years, so they won’t be surprised by any new content.”
The legendary All Black also added, “It’d make a great gift for that awkward uncle who you never quite know what to buy them.”
Dan Snyder, owner of NFL team the Washington Redskins, has once again defended the name of his team as just “mildly racist” and only likely to cause offense in people who “don’t watch Fox News, so you really have to wonder if they’re actually counted as people for the purposes of the being allowed to be offended anyway.”
Snyder, who’s Washington Redskins have come under fire in recent days following President Obama wading into the debate on whether the team’s name was offensive, has been resolute in refusing to change the team’s name, pointing out that it “only continued a long and honoured tradition of appropriating indigenous culture’s treasured identities, usually without their permission, to rehash as commercialised sports team names.”
“I mean, we don’t see the Irish complaining about the Boston Celtics, or folks from Maine complaining about the New York Yankees,” Synder said before adding “You’d think with all this complaining from Indian tribes we’d done something utterly horrible to them in the past like we’d stolen all their land or infected them with diseases to which they had no immunity, before forcing them onto barren, infertile tracks of land in the middle of nowhere.”
“Why’s everyone picking on me anyway?” Synder then asked, “Nobody is picking on the Kansas City Chiefs or the Minnesota Vikings. Don’t Vikings have something to say about how racist that is. I bet there aren’t even any real Vikings playing in that team.”
Synder also pointed out that, “There’s countries out there far worse than us anyway. Have you looked the Australian state of New Zealand? They force all their black people to play rugby in the All Blacks, while all their white people have to play soccer in the All Whites, but you don’t hear me complaining, do you?”
Sonny Bill Williams shocked the Rugby League community today by going back on his earlier decision to make himself unavailable for the Kiwi’s Rugby League World Cup defence and has declared he is ready and willing to be part of the squad after reflecting on how much money and the guaranteed additional media attention actually meant to him.
Williams issued a statement today which clarified his decision in more detail, “I know it seems like I mucked people around,” Williams said in the statement, “But after taking some time over the last day to reflect on the importance of money in my life, I realised that helping the Kiwis win another World Cup would further enhance my earning power and will keep the media spotlight firmly where it belongs, on me.”
“As a result of how important money is to me, and my desire to accumulate vast quantities of it, while maintaining a media profile that makes all other local sports stars seem minor by comparison, I will now play for the Kiwis at the Rugby League World Cup,” the statement added.
Williams expressed some regret for whichever player he replaced in the squad of 24, “I know some guy will have to miss out on a place now because of me, which sucks for them. But really, if they’d spent as much time building up unjustified hype around their profile and sporting abilities like I have, they wouldn’t have gotten themselves axed to make way for me. So they can only blame themselves.”
When finally reached for comment around why Williams took so long to change his mind, his manager, Khoder Nasser, said that “Sonny Bill didn’t want to be eaten by rats. He’s a lion you know, a big lion that roars. Sometimes it takes a lion a long time to wake up and realise they should go catch that gazelle. But rats do things by instinct, lions think things through. Roar. Yes, Sonny Bill likes to roar.”
Nasser then added, “If Mufasa wants to box against Sonny Bill, he’ll need to stop voicing clips on CNN and pretending to be Darth Vader.”