By STEVE MASCORD
THIS COULD BE MAGIC, SAY NINES ORGANISERS
COUNTING their dollars after a second wildly successful NRL Nines, the promoters have set their sites on a “Magic Weekend”, with an entire round of matches played at Eden Park. St George Illawarra hooker Heath L’Estrange, who has played in the British equivalent, pushed the idea to Set Of Six early Sunday and Duco Events’ David Higgins responded: “That’s a great idea and one about which I have already spoken to (business partner) Dean Lonergan. It would be a big success for the game. We have a good relationship with the NRL now and something I’m sure will be raised.” While Higgins said he had an open mind about adding teams to the Nines in future season, he didn’t sound keen. “If it’s not broke, why fix it?” he mused. “There is great purity to what we have now.”
CRONULLA CULTURE NEEDED AN OVERHAUL, SAYS ARONA
THERE are those who are cynical about the extent of any changes that have occurred at Cronulla since the ADASA controversy. But according to forward Tinarau Arona, the strong showing at the Nines was a testament, not to a distraction-free preparation as the popular narrative ran, but to the extent of how much things have been rebuilt. “It was more for us to play (in response to) the changes at the club, the change of culture,” he said. “We’ve worked hard in the off-season in cleaning up things on and off the field.” Asked to expand he said: “We’ve gone through a lot, obviously, last season and worked at being professional on and off the field.”
PATRICK MICHAEL HUNT
GOT an embarrassing middle name no-one knows about? Just as well you didn’t play in the Nines. The online link for official team lists seemed to include names straight of the passports of NRL stars. Jason Taumalolo is actually Vaai Taumalolo, the real first name of Young Tonumaipea is Yee-Huang., Chanel and Peter Mata’utia are really Chanel and Peter Mata’utia—Leifi and Isaah Yeo is Issah Ferguson-Yeo, amusing team-mate and radio commentator Jamie Soward. Wait, there’s more. “Nene” may be an unusual first name but the winger’s real Christian name is Bosam. And we’re guessing that aside from the tournament organisers, the only person who calls Josh Dugan “Joshua” is his mum.
WALLAROOS PLAY ROLE IN ROOSTERS SUCCESS
WOMEN’S sport played a bigger role in events over the weekend than it would appear at first glance. The girls involved in the three womens’ nine-a-side games at Eden Park thrilled the crowds but the Australian women’s rugby union sevens team also contributed to Sydney Roosters getting to the penultimate round. “One of the staff at the Roosters, her partner is Tim Walsh who coaches the women’s sevens,” said Roosters boss Trent Robinson. “He came in for a day and gave us some tips and told us how he would play the nines.” The Roosters concentrated last year on the World Club Challenge but earned more from getting to the finals at the weekend. “The players get a fair share, I think they keep thinking about the dollar signs at the end of each game.”
PARRAMATTA’S Tepai Moeroa was born in the Cook Islands, raised in New Zealand and lives in Australia. According to the way of the rugby league world, that would be – in reverse order – the countries he would want to play for. But not this hombre. Asked after a blockbusting try against Newcastle on Saturday to which nation he intended to pledge his loyalty, the giant 19-year-old said: “Cook Islands”. He’d chose the Cooks ahead of the big two, if they came knocking? “Yeah. That’s where I’m from so I’d represent the home country.” Good man Tepai – we need more like you.
SUPER BOWL SATURDAY
IT wasn’t quite the University Of Phoenix Stadium but Canberra’s Jack Ahearn bought a piece of the NFL to Eden Park at the weekend – two pieces, actually. The 22-year-old was wearing a pair of flash silver and blue boots as he scored the try that stunned the Warriors on Saturday afternoon. “They’re NFL boots, actually,” he said. “I got them from the US when I was over there. The boys bagged me about them but I think they were good luck today. I think I’m the only one, I haven’t seen anyone else wearing them.” Immortal Andrew Johns and new NRL official Shane Richardson spend the weekend at the real Super Bowl.
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD