THE CUP OF NATIONS
I reckon the most interested spectator at the Australia-South Korea women’s soccer game at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday afternoon will be the Matildas’ new coach Ante Milicic. The Cup of Nations, which also involves New Zealand and Argentina, is the first-ever women’s sporting event to headline Suncorp Stadium but more importantly for Milicic it represents a priceless opportunity to see his team in action before the upcoming World Cup in France and, hopefully, to put the last few weeks behind them. The drama surrounding the sacking of former Matildas’ coach Alen Stajcic will no doubt continue to be played out behind closed doors for months to come but if the Matildas are to live up to expectations at the World Cup starting in June, the real work will begin with this tournament. Milicic has been handed the reins of an outstanding, world class team led by the exciting Sam Kerr and experienced Steph Catley. They are currently ranked number six in the world behind only USA, Germany, France, England and Canada. Milicic has been given precious little time to even get to know his players, let alone get them al singing from the same song sheet, but I reckon their game against the South Koreans – at world number 14 the next-best ranked side in the Cup of Nations – will be the right place to start. What do YOU reckon?
I reckon the Broncos got it spot on with their handling of the Payne Haas affair. Incredibly I’m hearing that the club is copping some criticism for suspending the youngster for four NRL games and fining him $20,000 following an undisclosed incident involving members of his family. While the club has made it clear that Haas was not physically involved in the incident, they were not satisfied with the level of cooperation he gave to the NRL Integrity Unit during their investigation into it. Apparently some people think the punishment was too harsh. Given the current outcry over the decision by St George-Illawarra to allow their player Jack de Belin to continue training and playing while on bail facing serious police charges, you have to wonder what the Broncos would have to do to please everyone. To me the action they took was completely reasonable. It showed the rugby league community that at least one club is prepared to make the tough calls, it gave Haas a massive wake-up in the early days of his career, and it sent the clearest of messages to the rest of the Broncos’ roster: “We don’t care who you are. If you don’t toe the line, you’ll pay the price.” Agreeing to sideline one of his young guns for the opening rounds of the season was a huge call for a coach in his first season at the club but I reckon Anthony Seibold will reap the rewards down the track. What do YOU reckon?
I reckon Anthony Seibold is the facing the biggest challenge in rugby league. Just to survive at the Broncos – let alone win a premiership or two – he will have to beat one of the greatest hoodoos in the game. Since Wayne Bennett’s first stint with Brisbane ended in 2008, not one coach who has replaced him has managed to see out his contract. That’s Ivan Henjak at the Broncos, Steve Price at the Dragons and Rick Stone at the Knights. You could also add Anthony Griffin to the list as he was sacked to make way for Bennett’s return in 2015. In saying that, I reckon if anyone can fill Bennett’s giant shoes it’s Seibold. For starters he is the only one who has come into the job at the Broncos with first grade experience – and what experience it is. Third place on the ladder, a semi-final win and a 63 percent win-loss record is not to be sneezed at. But the thing that I really like about Seibold is the way he handled the whole Broncos-Rabbitohs coaching saga at the end of last season. For weeks he let Bennett do all the talking while he maintained a dignified silence in the background. Then, when the time was right, he held a media conference and dropped the bombshell about Bennett talking to Souths players. Within a week the swap was done. I reckon anyone who can out-manoeuvre Wayne Bennett and beat him at his own game off the field is the right man to lead the Broncos on the field. What do YOU reckon?
I reckon talk of Anthony Milford being appointed Broncos captain for the upcoming season is way off the money. For starters Milford will have enough on his plate trying to build a winning combination with his halfback partner Kodi Nikorima without having the responsibility of captaincy to worry about. Besides which, he’s not the best man for the job. If new coach Anthony Seibold is looking for someone to replace Darius Boyd, or even a co-captain to learn the ropes before Boyd’s expected retirement after the season, I can’t see why he would go past Andrew McCullough. Year after year ‘Macca’ is one of the Broncos’ most consistent players. The way he returned early from what was tipped to be a season-ending injury last year shows his toughness, and there is no question that the other players in the side respect him. As hooker he is in the thick of the action, he's intelligent, articulate and, perhaps most important of all these days, he is a clean-skin. Brisbane CEO Paul White read the riot act to him after a minor incident of youthful stupidity landed him in the watch-house back in 2011 and he hasn’t put a foot wrong since. McCullough captained the Broncos on the World Club Challenge trip to the UK in 2015 and did a great job. I reckon he has earned the little c next to his name full-time. What do YOU reckon?