Sport Southern Stars shine, Mundine still tops at being bad, rugby league’s silly soapie

Southern Stars shine, Mundine still tops at being bad, rugby league’s silly soapie

Anthony Mundine spars with his father Tony before Friday night's farewell fight. Photo: Getty
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Southern Stars shine so hard

Australian men’s cricket is about as appealing to the public right now as a bus ride with Scott Morrison.

Which makes the triumph of the women’s team at the World Twenty20 tournament in The West Indies on Sunday a godsend for a game that had become estranged from the people who love it.

Captain Meg Lanning’s team restricted England to 105 and cruised to victory with the loss of just two wickets to claim the title. This is a team with star talent, humility and passion. A team you want to – and can –believe in.

Ashleigh Gardner’s three wickets and 33 runs (including three massive sixes) in the final were inspired. The captain’s batting to get to the victory target was emphatic.

Once again Australia’s women’s sports stars have embodied the best of what we aspire to be when we compete on the world stage.

Time for the boys to do a bit of catching up.

Mundine still so good at being bad

Anthony Mundine has always understood the pantomime of boxing.

The ageing pugilist has made a career out of being the guy in the black hat, the boxer you love to hate.

Even his self-proclaimed moniker – “The Man” – is a provocation.

Humility? That’s for poets and choir boys. Mundine wants you to know he looks in the mirror each morning and quite likes what he sees.

For many sports fans, that’s enough for them to want to fork out cash in the hope that they get to watch the former world champion wear a hailstorm of leather and end up lights out on the canvas.

All of which makes Mundine’s latest sales pitch for his final punch-drunk vaudeville appearance all the more delicious.

“This one’s for the haters” Mundine opines. And fair enough too. They’ve been filling his coffers for nearly two decades after taking the bait every time The Man and his mouth has trolled them.

Mundine’s fight on Friday night in Brisbane against Jeff Horn feels like an awkward match of convenience as both fighters try to maximise a payday as their wider ambitions wane. It will also be Mundine’s last – if he’s true to his word.

He’s said some daft things along the way, but there’s no doubt he’s been compelling.

And like all great actors, he’s stayed in character right until the final credits roll.


The old and not so beautiful

Are you looking for a new soap opera to binge watch?

Forget Netflix, dial up the latest drama from the world of rugby league – The Real Coaches of Brisbane.

This is a drama featuring a bunch of grumpy old men whose outsized egos are only matched in size by their greed and arrogance.

How else do you explain the arrangement that the Broncos have struck with South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Anthony Seibold to take charge of the club in 2020 whilst incumbent coach and Broncos legend Wayne Bennett heads the other way and takes up residence in Redfern.

Bennett and Seibold will be in charge of each other’s future clubs whilst the players and fans ask the obvious question – what the hell is going on here?

Former players are calling for Bennett to be ditched after claims the Broncos coach was already facilitating discussions on behalf of the Bunnies to secure Panthers forward Trent Merrin for the 2020 season.

Meanwhile, Bennett has dug in, insisting on seeing out his contract for 2019 at Suncorp Stadium despite the clearly dysfunctional relationship with, well, everyone.

Is he trying to force the Broncos to pay him out? Does he want to make the Broncos boardroom and back office feel the heat he clearly thinks they deserve? Is he just a stubborn old warrior that wants to prove a point?

It’s all of the above.

Seibold, who clearly thought that a grown up in the room might point out the obvious – that it’s best they both finalise their respective divorces and move to their new domiciles – is languishing in Sydney in a now loveless marriage.

Bennett has fallen out so spectacularly with Broncos CEO Paul White that earlier this year they held rival dinners leaving the players to choose which one to attend – a storyline you’d expect on The Bold and the Beautiful.

The NRL coaching soapie this year is just short of putting all the coaches car keys in a bowl and clubs drawing them out to see who they’re going home with.

It’s no less absurd a storyline than the type these blokes have been throwing up this year.

Fans must hope that in true soapie style they’ll wake up and it would all have been a bad dream.

Because everyone in rugby league is looking out for themselves right now and no one, it seems, is looking out for the best interests of the game.


Draft dream for all, not just for some

Each year the AFL Draft offers another crop of young men the opportunity to live their dream by becoming AFL footballers.

It seems some dreams are more accessible than others.

When the Victorian Associated Public Schools (APS) sport tweeted on Friday their understandable delight that nearly 25 per cent of draftees had come through its private school affiliates, another thing became blindingly obvious.

The huge capital investment in infrastructure and resources in private schools, underpinned by significant public spending, is creating AFL Draft-ready athletes.

The reverse is also true.

The underfunding of public schools sports programs and infrastructure means the chance of kids from lower socio-economic circumstances find it that much harder to realise their dreams.

If the AFL wants to ensure that the dream of playing the game at the highest level remains available to all, not just those better off, maybe it needs to be leading a discussion on how best to make that happen.

Footy has prided itself on being classless in its appeal. It’s important it stays that way.

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