Sport Sport Focus Crystal ball: What to expect from sport in 2018
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Crystal ball: What to expect from sport in 2018

Johnathan Thurston
Rugby league superstar Johnathan Thurston is set for a big 2018. Photo: Getty
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Tim Cahill to make football history

The 38-year-old forward can join legend Pele and German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler as the only players to score at four FIFA World Cups if he bags a goal in Russia. And there’s every chance he will.

The Socceroos will play at least three games and while Cahill’s role has been reduced in recent years, he has made a career out of scoring big goals at important moments.

The end of the AFL’s fairytale stories

Drought-breaking triumphs from the Western Bulldogs and Richmond produced great stories, emotion and stirred even the coldest of footy fans.

But footy’s romance will end in 2018, with a premiership to either AFL creation Greater Western Sydney or the big-spending and perennially successful Sydney. How Richmond defend its premiership will prove fascinating, as will developments at Collingwood.

Silverware for the Matildas

They have had a great 2017, finishing with a record-winning streak of seven straight matches. And more joy is to come for Alen Stajcic’s side.

Led by the inspirational Sam Kerr, the Matildas should win April’s Asian Cup in Jordan. And there’s the Algarve Cup in February, too, giving one of the nation’s favourite teams another chance to win a trophy.

Australia to dominate the Commonwealth Games

While the Games won’t exactly capture Australia’s imagination, given the unfortunate timing and fact it is wedged in between both the AFL and NRL seasons, expect those in the green and gold to headline proceedings on the Gold Coast.

Sally Pearson
Sally Pearson won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Photo: Getty

England topped the medal tally in 2014, in Glasgow, but Australia were far better in both 2006 and 2010. The good times will return.

Johnathan Thurston to go out on a high

All the off-season attention has been on the Sydney Roosters, given the signing of Cooper Cronk, but you would be a fool to write off the Cowboys. Paul Green’s side defied the odds to make the Grand Final last year, despite an injury crisis.

Thurston was the major omission, playing just seven matches as he battled a shoulder problem. But he will be fit and firing in 2018, his last season in the NRL, and will wreak havoc with halves partner Michael Morgan.

Daniel Ricciardo to make a move

While Red Bull’s cars stand still, and others improve, the Aussie’s chance of winning a Formula One world title becomes more unlikely.

And while whiz kid Max Verstappen has a long-term deal at Red Bull, Ricciardo is unsigned beyond 2018. The 28-year-old is sure to at least test the market and, given his ability, is sure to have plenty of suitors, including Mercedes and Ferrari.

Women’s sport to take even more strides forward

There is no doubt that 2017 was a watershed year in women’s sport. The efforts of the Matildas and the Southern Stars became big news, while the AFLW competition was a massive success.

Ellyse Perry
Ellyse Perry had a brilliant 2017. Photo: Getty

But with a women’s competition in both rugby league and rugby union set to begin in 2018, more headlines are coming. It’s about time.

More Big Bash League expansion

The summer hit upped its games from 35 to 43 for the 2017/18 season and, given the success, more expansion is coming.

It’s probably too early for new teams (although they are coming), but expect more fixtures to go with a new television deal, which will be hotly contested. Insiders are even talking up the possibility of an overseas-based round.

Ben Simmons to become a household name

Sports fans are already more than aware of the 21-year-old’s brilliance. The Melbourne-born Simmons has been so dominant in his rookie season with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers he has already been compared to legends Magic Johnson and LeBron James.

But it’s not those of a sporting persuasion who will know about Simmons come the end of 2018. His movements will become headline news across the country and the good news is there’s at least a decade of it to come.

A change in the tennis world

While Rafael Nadal is a near-certainty to win the French Open, don’t expect a repeat of 2017, when the Spaniard and Roger Federer split the four grand slams.

Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will return from injury bigger and better in 2018 and should dominate the tennis calendar.

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