The Shit Storm

The Storm has pretty much done a “fuck you” to the entire rugby league code. The full extent of the salary cap scandal only hit me at 11pm when I got home from work. Last thing I knew betting on the wooden spoon had been suspended in the morning. I get home and its pandemonium. At first I thought give the Eels and Manly the premierships that were stripped from the Storm but then I thought, hang on... the Broncos were knocked out of the competition by the Storm in the semis. It could have been a Broncos v Eels Grand Final. The Storm didn’t just cheat the Eels and Manly out of a premiership but they cheated the entire code, players, fans and staff. It does, however, make the Broncos premiership in 06 and the Manly premiership in 08 more special. Not only did they beat out 14 other clubs, they beat a illegally star-studded Storm team.

Like many league fans I am confused. How was this allowed to go for 5 years? How is it the players, coach, board, didn’t know it was going on? Doesn't it state how much they are getting paid in their contracts? If they're getting paid a different amount than what is stated on the contract shouldn’t they know? What happens to the players pay now? Do they still get paid over the salary cap because the contract dictates it or does they're pay get cut? Do they throw all the contracts? The legal ramifications of this scandal are massive (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a law student). If the player don’t get paid what the contracts says then the club is in breach of contract. They have operated immorally corporation under Commercial law, not to mention the mention criminal charges for white collar crime and fraud.And what of the rest of the 2010 season?

I think its unfair that teams still have to beat the storm to get the points. What if it comes down to the last few games of the season and, say the Raiders, need the point to be in the top eight. They will still be playing an unfairly advantaged Storm team and if they loose they won make the eight. I think they should do what they did with Juventus, after the match fixing scandal. Let all the players out of their contracts. Start new contracts. If players want to leave that should be their right because they were betrayed. I know I wouldn't want to play for a club after that. If they want to stay, write up a new contract and pay them under the salary cap. Teams playing the Storm should get a bye. The Storm players can chose to go to another team and be paid less, so they can be accommodated under that teams salary cap or stay at the Storm for what they are worth but not be able to play first grade till next year.

As for the Storm fans, I do feeling for them. That’s not an easy thing for me to say. On every other day I hate the Storm and their fans. I feel shocked and cheated. I can’t imagine what the fans are feeling. If that were Broncos I would cry, be angry and start looking for a new team. I dunno that I could support a team that has been disgraced in such a fashion. I have no doubt the NRL will recover from this catastrophe. It has loyal fans and 15 other teams that play to the rules. The same cannot be said about the Storm. The Melbourne Storm finally established a platform for themselves after years of struggling as the only league team in an AFL dominated state. Now all that hangs in the balance. Only time will tell if the club can continue to survive.


Super 14, 2010 or 'My Ode to the New South Wales Waratahs'

So, 2010 is a month and a half in and we've had little to celebrate on the sporting front (it's mainly just been dull cricket but that's an entirely different kettle of fish). However, we're beginning to find solace in the fact that the Super 14 is about to start. 3 of the greatest rugby nations will be playing off against each other in what shall be a spectacular end to the Super 14 competition as we make way for the Super 15 with the introduction of the 5th Australian team - the Melbourne Rebels.

As we wait 2 more days for the first few matches, we (being the 3 countries aforemention [actually probably just myself and a few others...]) are eagerly anticipating some fantastic rugby. Now I can't be sure on my facts, i've become lazier in my researching skills so this is mainly just guesswork, but I think we're in for a big year. I don't want to peak to early and have to eat my words but I definitely will say this, the Waratahs will win the competition, with the Stormers as runners-up. There have been whispers that it will be the ACT Brumbies who will be the most successful Australia team but to that I say "You make a fair and researched point based on statistics and player quality, but i'm a lot more biased than you so shove off, this is my blog".

Now let's not waste people's time and talk about games that no one cares about (although methinks the Blues vs Hurricanes game on Friday will be a good one). The Queensland Reds vs the NSW Waratahs. Round one will be the local derby round, or the Festival of Hate, with the Brumbies also playing the Force. New Waratahs coach, Chris Hickey, has made some surprising selections for his first round team, most notably Dean Mumm at 6 rather than in second row (not all that surprising as he's good at both but he and Will Caldwell are such a good pairing it seems silly to separate them). We see the debut game for six players - Berrick Barnes (10), Cam "Kiwi Jam" Jowitt (who? 5), Drew Mitchell (11), Sosene "I'm actually from New Zealand" Anesi (15), with Rory Sidey and Kane Douglas warming the bench. We also see the return of some familiar faces. Our fearless leader, Phil Waugh, is back with a vengeance hoping to lead his troops to glory. Kurtley Beale has been safely cleared to play after a nasty assault charge which will be heard in court in June. Our darling props, Al Baxter and Bennnnnnnn Robinson, return to hopefully be the pillars of our scrum and add some much appreciated team spirit. Will Caldwell will also be back after being diagnosed with Crohn's Disease and having the best part of last year away from the game.

No matter what line up takes the field, I'd like to think that the Waratahs will win against the Reds anyway. However, let's not get complacent. Sure, the Reds former best player, Barnes, is now playing for us, but that doesn't mean they won't have a little bit of fight left in them. Yet it all just seems too hard to believe. Quade "effing" Cooper would never upstage or outclass Barnes and the youth that Queensland are putting us up against seem like no match to the depth that the NSW selectors are introducing to the team. Whatever is said before the game will be answered on Saturday evening in Suncorp Stadium.

Oh, and about the other Australian game. It's only the Force and the Brumbies so who cares?

The team that's taking on QLD is:
  1. Benn Robinson
  2. Tatafu Palota-Nau
  3. Al Baxter
  4. Will Caldwell
  5. Cam Jowitt
  6. Dean Mumm
  7. Phil Waugh
  8. Wycliff Palu
  9. Luke Burgess
  10. Berrick Barnes
  11. Drew Mitchell
  12. Kurtley Beale
  13. Tom Carter
  14. Lachlan Turner
  15. Sosene Anesi
  16. Damien Fitzpatrick
  17. Sekope Kepu
  18. Kane Douglas
  19. Ben Mowen
  20. Josh Holmes
  21. Daniel Halangahu
  22. Rory Sidey
- Splex

PS: If you like the Waratahs even half as much as I do then you should head to: GoTheTahs...DOT COM!

NB: Apologies for the somewhat ranting and biased nature of that. It's been a long time since I've had to string together some decent writing that is over 140 characters.

The SuperHotBowl

In the wake of the Saints winning the Superbowl i thought i would share with everyone some of the hotties from the NFL. Included is the Superbowl winning Reggie Bush. Reggie Bush like Brad Pitt and George Clooney is the subject of many man-crushes (hetro men adore them).
Then there is Tom Brady and Wes Welker, who play for the Patriots. Tom Brady is considered to be one of the best quarterbacks of the decade. He has a long standing rivalry with Payton Manning, whom he is always compared to, but Brady wins in my books cause Manning is ugly and Brady is hot. Then there's Miles Austin, a Dallas Cowboy wide reciever, who was selected for the 2010 probowl.

On the other side of spectrum there is Brady Quinn, arguably the shitest Quaterback playing for the shitest team, the Cleveland Browns. It's a good thing he's blessed with good looks cause he doesn't have much going for him. It's also a good thing that the poeple of Cleveland have a successful basketball team to follow, in the Cavilier,s because they're not going to be winning Superbowls anytime soon. In a similar vain, Matt Leinart although hot, is the back up quaterback for the Arizona Cardinals. They're the team that features Australian punter Ben Graham. Shit now, he does have potential. Leinart won the Heisman Trophy in 2004, awarded to the best college player, and is tipped to replace Kurt Warner as starting Quarterback for the 2010 season.

So people lets have a perve.

The State of Aussie Cricket

With much of the cricket season behind us it's time to reflect on the year that was...or in my case launch a scathing attack on Cricket Australia. As a cricketing nation we have fallen from invincibility to mediocrity. We lost to all the nations that matter; losing to India, South Africa at home and losing the Ashes AGAIN. Then we complain about the lack of competitiveness playing the West Indies and Pakistan. Maybe we should stop complaining and just be glad we're winning for a change. The truth is Australia is not as great a cricketing nation as we once were. That is to be expected after the exodus of legendary players, Mathew Hayden, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Glen McGrath who contributed to Australia to wining 16 consecutive test matches.

Since their departure cricket Australia has adopted a 'building for the future' policy. In theory, selecting skilled youngsters to fill the void left by cricketing greats. It is not exactly a policy i agree with. Cricket Australia should select players who are best suited in their roles, regardless of age. Instead older more experienced players like Jacques, Clark and McGill were overlooked for selection because they were 'too old'. McGill would have been the logical replacement for Warne but was often selected reluctantly or overlooked all together until he retired. Clark who served Australia so well after being groomed as the next McGrath was over looked this summer and likely never to play for Australia in another test. Phil Jacques who scored 171 for NSW last week should have been recalled instead of Watson for the Ashes (not that Watson hasn't been doing a good job) or replaced Katich at the SCG this summer when he was injured. Just imagine the bowling attack with Lee and Clark with the new ball. Clark is always consistent with line and length and Lee scary has hell with his speed then Johnson as the first change bowler. Then Hauritz and Lee with the old ball for spin and reverse swing.

The building for the future policy, however is not without its merit. In England Ben Hilfenhaus really established himself as Australia's premier swing bowler. In Australia we saw the emergence of Doug Bollinger and Hauritz cement his position as Australia's Spinner. But Cricket Australia has been inconsistent with it selection. Graham Manou who played during the Ashes is 30, two years younger than Haddin whom he is suppose step in for when Haddin retired or Ryan Harris who despite being very skilled is 30 and only just starting his international career. If your going to over look great players such has Nathan Bracken in the one dayers and cite 'building for the future' atleast choose players who are in their 20's, like Henriques or Steve smith.

We have also come to expect nothing less than perfection, a very high expectation for inexperienced youngster. As soon as a player doesn't get a high score or a bunch of wicket in consecutive games we're calling for them to be dropped. Hughes, North, Ferguson, Siddle, Hauritz and Hussey have all faced such criticism this summer. Can you imagine the calling for Shane Warne or McGrath to be dropped because they've had a few dry spells. This sink or swim approach is not conducive to developing young players. Experienced players like Hussey can put it behind them but younger players don't have the same mental toughness. For example Phillip Hughes has the technique and ability to make it as an international opening batsmen but mentally he can't deal with the pressure of having to perform every time he steps on to the pitch. Hughes and North didn't make it much easier for themselves with blistering debuts, only increasing the weight of expectation. If Cricket Australia is adamant on this building for the future then they should give these kids a go and take the axe away from above their heads. As with all professional athletes they respond better when they are confident. We should trust in their ability and let them find themselves on the pitch without expecting them to be Mathew Hayden or Glen McGrath.

So Cricket Australia, either select the player that is performing the best or be consistent in selecting young blood for the future and staying with them. Since i have alot of free time i have compiled two squads for you. The first squad including a test and one day team is selected on who i believe should be playing for Australia because they are the best suited for the job regardless of age (and injury), selecting experience over youth. All those selected have represented Australia at some point. The second squad i have selected is based on the 'building for the future' policy. Most of these players will be in their 20's and full of potential. If they haven't played for Australia already they probably will in a few years.

Click the table to actually read the names.

- Alpii

10 Outstanding Individuals

Here at Spec Sports we have been guilty of team sport bias. Most our posts and all of our dream teams have been about about team sports (more specifically football and cricket). Since we can't exactly do a dream team on individual sports, we've altered our team selection criteria, and have selected, in no particular order, ten good looking, talented and current individual athletes.


Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater, at 37, is getting on abit but our designated sugar daddy and FILF (male version of a MILF). He is the youngest and oldest Surfing World Champion, winning the title a record nine times. He is the most successful athlete in the history of the sport.


Adam Scott

Adam Scott, preached by many Australians as the successor to Greg Norman. He was ranked as high as 3rd in the world in 2007. He is the one shining light in a really boring sport, played by rich, old, fat blokes.


John Steffensen
John Steffensen is a cutie, with curly long hair and cheeky smile. Steffensen is a 27 year old, 200m and 400m sprinter. He has Commonwealth gold medals for the 400m and 4 x 400m Relay. He also has an Olympic silver medal for the 4 x 400m.

Daniel Batman
Steffensen's 4 x 400m team mate Daniel Batman is also a hottie. While, not the tallest athlete at 173cm, his name more than makes up for it.


Jeremy Bloom
With the Winter Olympics coming up, keep an eye for American Jeremy Bloom. Now if your wondering why he is posing with a football, well Bloom also played NFL for the Eagles and Steelers. After a few years in the NFL with limited success, he now devotes all his time to skiing.

Motor Racing

Jenson Button
In Formula One you can't look past 2009 World Champion, Jenson Button. The the 29 year old has a smile to die for and eyes you can drown in. He's not been the luckiest driver in F1, since debuting in 2000, he has changed teams seven times. At the end of last year, Button seemed out of the job when his team Honda pulled out of F1, but got a late call back to drive for the new entry to F1 Brawn GP. He went from unemployed to World Champion in the space of a year. In 2010 he will be driving a McLaren.

Kimi Raikkonen
If your into Scandinavian hotties and lots of money then, Kimi Raikkonen is the man the for you. He is 30 years old. Nickname: Iceman, for his ice cool composure on the race track. His hobbies include snowboarding and ice hockey. This year he was named the second richest sportsperson, behind the cheating Tiger Woods, by Forbes Magazine bring in $51 million a year. In 2007 he won his first Formula One Championship with Ferrari after finishing a close second twice with McLaren in 2003 and 2005. In 2010 Kimi will be will driving a rally car for Citroen in the World Rally Championship.


Eamon Sullivan
Olympic silver and bronze Medalist, Celebrity Master Chef and underwear model, Eamon Sullivan. Whats not to like. Did I mention he's single. He is 24 years old and nicknamed Nemo. I use to think he was a bit of a tool, mostly for dating Stephanie Rice, but he really won me over on Celebrity Master chef.

Ryan Lochte
Its not easy constantly being in the shadow of Michael Phelps but American Swimmer Ryan Lochte does it with grace. He is 25, nicknamed 'the lochtenator'. He competes in Backstroke, the individual Medley and relay teams. How can u go wrong with that body, I don't know about his choice of swimwear though.


Alex Despatie
Divers have some of the best washboard abs of any athlete. All that twisting and turning in mid air must be a great mid-section work out. At 24, Alex Despatie is a veteran Canadian diver. When Alex was 13 he won a Commonwealth gold medal for the 10m platform. He is also the only diver to have been World Champions of all three categories, the 1m and 3m spring board and 10m platform.

For the Fellas
Since most our readers are actually male, ironic considering the content of our blogs, here are some women who have gained an honourable mention. Researching good looking female athletes is not particular fun when there are so many sluts out there willing to take their tops (and bottoms) off for a few bucks.

Amanda Beard
is one of them. Even though she is a swimmer, photos of her actually competing is scarce. Finding photos of her fully clothed are almost non-existent.

There are, however, some more wholesome female athletes out there such as, drag racer Ashley Force. Ashley Force is the daughter of 14 time national champion John Force. In 2008 she beat her father in the finals to be the first woman to win in her class. Even though she is married, Splex and I are conspiring to have her marry Australian Indy car driver, Will Power. What can go wrong with last names like Power and Force.

There probably are others worth mentioning such as Maria Sharapova or Stephanie Rice, but i hate them. Plus i was sick of looking through half or fully naked photos on Google images to find some more female athletes. You boys can just do that in your own time.


P.S You can get a closer look by clicking on the images.

The Story of Puggly

Domestic Test cricket is for the die-hards, or those with nothing better to do. On a sunny spring day, we found ourselves at a deserted SCG - with nothing better to do - watching Tassie beat the NSW Blues. The Blues struggled, with Tasmanian captain George Bailey going on to get a century. The NSW bowlers battled all day with little luck. But on that otherwise less than ordinary day, we fell in love with larrikin bowler Doug Bollinger.

Some may say he is ugly, we wouldn't disagree. While watching Tasmania score run after run, we suddenly hear a lone supporter, yelling and cheering on the Blues in a solitary slow clap. To our surprise it wasn't a supporter at all but one of the NSW players, Doug Erwin Bollinger. When it came time for Puggly to bowl we decided to start our own slow clap to spur him on. Puggly responded, producing dot balls every time. After providing us with hours of entertainment from the outfield we nicknamed him Puggly. You can probably see why (but we don't mean it in a bad way, he's extremely endearing).

Luckily for us, our Summer of cricket with Doug the Rug has not yet come to an end. With the unfortunate injury to Brett Lee, Bollinger gained a spot in the Australian Test team. Starting with a 12th man appearance in the first test against the West Indies, he now sees himself as one of the leading fast bowlers in Australian cricket. When the opportunity did knock on his door for this Test at the Adelaide Oval, the West Indies captain Chris Gayle dismissed him as a nobody … and our Doug got him out. He's had some impressive stats in the current test being played out, which gives all a lot of hope for the future. Could he be longterm replacement for Lee?

Our love for young Doug may be irrational and somewhat inexplicable, yet there is just something so lovable about this cheeky fellow. We hope for the best for the rest of his career and would love to see him excel to the highest feats! Fingers crossed he plays a massive part in the demise of the England Cricket team in the 2010 Ashes series.

Long live Dougie Bollinger!

- Alpii & Splex (That's right...this was a joint post!)

Australia's Sporting Decline: An English Perspective

A Guest post from Marc Fearns, who appears courtesy of

For a country with such a small population, Australia has always punched above its weight in the sporting arena. You can be justly proud of your numerous sporting achievements, achievements that we Brits have historically only been able to regard with envy. In recent years, however, Australian sport seems to have been in decline. There have been poor results and poor performances. This seems to have been the cause of something of a national identity crisis, prompting you to do a lot of soul-searching.

Sometimes though, you can be too close to the situation to view it objectively. If you’re ten centimetres from a Van Gogh painting, a Where’s Wally drawing or a cinema screen they make no sense to you. You need to be further away to gain perspective. Who better then, to look into the cause of Australia’s sporting malaise than a man on the other side of the world? Well, other than a man in space, but spacemen have other things to occupy them, usually something to do with trajectory or re-entry or something.

We all know when Australia’s decline as a sporting nation began, it was the 2005 Ashes. Now that probably doesn’t come as a revelation to you. It’s pretty obvious to all of us, but there’s more.

I can pinpoint the exact moment of the 2005 Ashes that it all began to unravel for Australia. It was on day two of the first test. On that day Surrey and England batsman Graham Thorpe announced his retirement from international cricket.

Graham Thorpe was a terrific batsman who, for much of his career, can consider himself unlucky to have been born English and to have been stuck in some very poor England teams. His England career was marked by defeat after defeat inflicted by Australia. As time marched on, and he came closer to the end of his career, Thorpe put in some mighty performances for an improving England side, but the emergence of Kevin Pietersen meant that he lost his test place.

In 2005, having learned that he had not been picked for the first Ashes test, Graham Thorpe retired from international cricket. With Thorpe no longer representing them, the England team went on to record a hard-fought, and improbable, victory against an Australian team containing such greats as Gilchrist, Ponting, Warne, Lee and McGrath, and these guys (with the exception of McGrath and his unfortunate injury) were all playing at the top of their games. I know. I saw them.

So there’s a pattern here. When Graham Thorpe represented England, we lost, a lot, usually horribly. Not because he was a poor player, he was magnificent, but because he is a jinx.

In August 2005 Thorpe retired from the English domestic game and moved to Australia, where he coached for New South Wales. It was that moment that the curse of Thorpe was wholly transferred to Australia.

In 2006, Ian Thorpe – one of the greatest (of many) Australian sporting heroes – announced his premature retirement from swimming. Obviously, the introduction of a second Thorpe into the country had unsettled and affected him. The Thorpedo had been Grahampered.

Obviously, the 2006/2007 Ashes would seem to contradict my fundamental argument but fortunately, as an Englishman, I’m not aware of them.

Like the Ancient Mariner’s dead albatross Graham Thorpe continued to excerpt his malign influence upon Australian sport. In the 2007 Rugby World Cup, an Australian team that had performed solidly in the group stages were knocked out by an England team that had played woefully in the run-up to, and during the early stages of the tournament. There was no logical reason for this. It can only have been the Thorpe effect.

Look at Australian tennis pre and post-Thorpe. Before the blight of Thorpe you had Mark Philippoussis and Lleyton Hewitt – two absolutely first-rate exponents of men’s tennis. While Philippoussis is obviously an idiot and we can’t really blame Thorpe for his self-destruction, Hewitt was in excellent form. In 2005 he made the final of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of Wimbledon (getting knocked out by the then-invincible Roger Federer). In the same year Hewitt was named in Tennis Magazine’s all-time top 40 tennis players. In 2008, after three years of the Graham Thorpe hex, Hewitt didn’t even win a title – the first year in which he had failed to do so. Hewitt is still ranked number one in Australia, but this is thanks mostly to competition from Chris Guccione.

In 2008, with the abominable Thorpe now having developed a full-blown Australian accent, it was time for all-conquering sporting giants Australia to show their might in the Bejing Olympics. It didn’t go well. Australia was even beaten in the medal table by Great Britain, and that never happened when Thorpey lived here.

Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the Olympic performance was in the pool. While Great Britain achieved its best medal haul for many years, Australia was poor. Australia! Poor at swimming! It must have been the malign influence of Thorpe, because there’s no logical reason that Australia should ever be anything other than the world’s number one swimming nation. Let’s consider it.

Australia has a climate that’s conducive to swimming. Australia has a vast quantity of swimming pools. Australia is an island, surrounded by the sea. These factors alone should ensure that Australia is great at swimming, but there’s more. Australia also has most of the world’s terrifying water-dwelling creatures; from tiny poisonous jellyfish that kill you, to gigantic poisonous jellyfish that kill you; from enormous evil-eyed, sharp-toothed fish that eat you, to enormous evil-eyed, sharp-toothed reptiles that eat you, Australia has them all. If Australians don’t learn to swim fast, they die. Australians should be unbeatable at swimming.

In the 2008 Olympics, the nation of Australia came second in the swimming…to Michael Phelps. An entire nation that should be, by all logic, the best in the world were beaten by one man. It could only have been the Graham Thorpe hoodoo.

In 2008, having wreaked havoc on Australian sport for three long years, Thorpe returned home to take up a coaching position with Surrey. Sadly for Australia, however, his accent was so strong that he seemed more Australian than British. In an interview previewing the 2009 Ashes series Graham Thorpe was asked if the England team were ready for Australia. “Aw look”, he replied, “our blokes have put in the half-yards, they’ll be full-on.” Australia didn’t stand a chance (and we had Ian Bell).

Since Thorpe moved to Australia and put the hex on you, Australian sport has declined so severely that Australia has now been beaten by Scotland at rugby, which is surely the ultimate sporting humiliation. Do you know why Scotland never play the Scotland ladies team? That’s right, it’s for the same reason that my school rugby team should never have played the girls team.

So there it is, Australia. You can look at coaching methods, player performance, sports funding, governing body efficacy, and you can analyze tables, statistics and multiple-plot waveform graph data until you’re blue in the face (or asleep at the desk). The fact is that since Graham Thorpe stopped representing England, British sport has been in the ascendant and since Graham Thorpe moved to Australia and started speaking with an Aussie accent, Australian sport has been in sharp decline. The reason for Australia’s sporting malaise is obvious. Graham Thorpe.