NEWSDESK: The All Blacks injury crisis deepened today when it emerged out of form half back Piri Weepu ate starting first five Aaron Cruden. “It’s a worry,” said Steve Hansen. “Dan’s hamstring strain, along with Aaron being in Piri’s stomach leaves us short, so we’ve called up Beauden Barrett. Piri himself could even cover first five once his heartburn settles down.”
Weepu told reporters he ate Cruden at a Hamilton Cinema, where it was ‘pretty dark.’ “When the lights came on, everyone was like ‘where’s Aaron?’. Yeah, you always regret eating a team mate, I’m gutted for him. Hopefully the boys can dig deep on Saturday night and win it for Aaron,” said Weepu.
Dave Rennie said being eaten was obviously a career setback for Cruden, and could limit his impact on the remainder of the Chiefs campaign. The eating is not without precedent, it was long rumoured that Colin Meads ate Keith Murdoch after the 1972 Grand Slam tour, until Murdoch was found un-eaten in the Australian outback years later.
NEWSDESK: The Northern Mystics netball franchise’s ‘rolling maul’ technique has left opponents reaching for the rule book, and in some cases, seriously injured. Hot on the heels of last week’s ‘hoist lift’ manoeuvre, this week the Mystics formed a rugby-style maul in the third quarter to advance the ball through mid court, and several Canterbury Tactix netballers.
“Netball has been losing market share in the ‘blood thirsty suburban nana’ demographic to league and UFC,” said NZ Netball marketing manager Suzuki Swift. “The rugby cross-pollination has flipped that around – we’ve gained great traction with our ‘spunky chicks smashing into each other’ promotional strategy. I’m totally confident rolling mauls will take it to the next level.”
Reports that Australia’s Melbourne Vixens was spotted practising spear tackles at training this week were unconfirmed.
NEWSDESK: Rugby World Cup 2011 winning coach Graham Henry should cease cackling around the end of the decade, according to All Black doctor Deb Robinson. Henry, the first All Black coach to secure the William Webb Ellis trophy since 1987, used to be known for his stern manner and take-no-prisoners approach with journalists, but the ex-headmaster’s appearances now feature raucous laughter, grinning and winking, punctuated with dubious anecdotes, all of which are being lapped up by an adoring rugby public and media.
In a series of increasingly comedic outbursts, Henry told a Hawke’s Bay dinner audience how close he’d come to drinking wine and smoking marijuana in the south of France, described English rugby officials as ‘fucking arseholes’ at a corporate engagement and gave a powerpoint presentation on new All Black coach Steve Hansen’s farting and early morning ablutions to a South Canterbury high school rugby prizegiving.
Asked for comment, Henry said: “Tremendous. Just marvellous. Tremendous. Marvellous,” and laughed for five or six minutes before the line went dead.
All Blacks Doctor Deb Robinson said “Letting off steam when you’ve been under immense pressure is natural, and he should stop cackling when it feels right to him, even if that’s several years away. If the rugby public sees Graham wandering the streets laughing un-supervised, the best thing people can do is wrap him lightly but firmly in a blanket, put him in a Corporate Cab and send him to NZRFU HQ in Wellington.”
Asked if a tired and emotional ex-All Black coach with a microphone was a PR risk, NZRFU CEO Steve Tew said “Ted is a professional, and we trust his judgement. However, we would to see Ted transition public appearances from ‘public speaking’ and ‘interviews’ to a ‘trips to the dairy’ or ‘boat ramp’ space, but I’m sure we can come to an arrangement.”
NEWSDESK: All Black utility Sonny Bill Williams claimed the NZ Beating Up Useless Guys belt in Hamilton last night, when he beat Clarence Tillman III, who despite a strong showing at the weigh in, turned out to be useless. Tillman, who does not have his own Wikipedia page, put up less resistance than a cheeseboard and lost the bout in the first round. “There won’t be a retired ex-boxer working as a takeaway chef or service station attendant that isn’t shaking in his boots now,” said Williams’ agent Khoder Nasser.
“Anyone wanna take on Sonny Bill, yeah, I’ll fuck you up, son,” said Williams, who later clarified that potential opponents with boxing experience would not be considered, but he was more than happy to accommodate fucking up non-boxers at any time, in any location. Potential opponents for Williams’ next fights include a one-armed taxi driver Nasser sourced at the airport, or the taxi driver’s thirteen year old nephew.
NEWSDESK: Sporting media questioned the All Blacks’ decision to conduct today’s press conference solely through the medium of break dance. Asked about preparations for Sunday’s world cup final, lock Ali Williams performed a series of wild airflares, followed by a toprock reverse airbaby off a table. Asked to expand on his response, Williams performed an elbow chair.
“I turned up expecting some real insight before such a crucial match, not some guy laying out lino and spinning around on it. It’s unprofessional,” said rugby journalist Fred Sauce-Tie. “It’s the worst press conference since John Eales did rhythmic gymnastics in Brisbane that time.”
Breakdancing, a popular style of street dance that was created and developed as part of hip-hop culture among African Americans and Latino youths in New York City is generally considered a non-traditional media relations channel. However, it proved popular among French media, who tapped their notepads rhythmically while Sonny Bill Williams pulled off a difficult handglide freeze. Reserve first five eighths Stephen Donald did not participate in the breakdancing, performing only light Parkour at the press conference’s conclusion.
NEWSDESK: All Black coach Graham Henry could not rule out a link between the All Blacks’ injury toll and the full contact jousting sessions that took place in closed door training this week. “People have questioned the wisdom of the boys going 25Ks an hour at each other on horseback carrying heavy lances, trying knock each other off by way of a blow to the head or torso during the world cup,” said Henry, adding: “We did give them shields.”
Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Mils Muliaina and Israel Dagg are all out injured after taking part in the ancient martial sport that gained popularity in the 12th century, while Richard Kahui, who has a suspected broken face, is bracketed with Zac Guilford. “You have to balance the strength and hand-eye co-ordination benefits jousting training provides with the risk of spraining, crushing and stabbing injuries,” said Henry. “We’re reviewing it.”
Steve Hanson said he had good results with jousting training with Canterbury. “You learn a lot about your team mates when they’re trying to put a hole in you. Everyone wanted to have a go against Justin Marshall for some reason – shit, some of the boys have asked if he’s available now.”
Hanson denied reports Andrew Hore had gone rogue somewhere in Hamilton’s north western suburbs with a mace.
NEWSDESK: All Black selectors confirmed they were “pretty wasted” when selecting the team to face Tonga. Forwards coach Steve Hansen told a packed press conference: “We had a few selection headaches, so Smithy brought a box of Woody’s. It all kicked on from there.”
A lightly kebab-stained team sheet revealed the surprise combination of Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu, and the inclusion of Isaia Toeava. “I was as surprised as anyone to see Kahui on the wing. Lucky Kronic has been banned, it could have been Mils at centre!” said Hansen.
“We looked at the whole squad, their form, the combinations… then we got fucko. One minute we’re discussing Conrad’s defence vs Sonny Bill’s offload, next thing I’m arguing with a bouncer about the club shutting at 5am. I wasn’t even up for a biggy!” said head coach Graham Henry. When asked if rotating the squad at this stage was dooming the team to repeat the mistakes of 2007’s early exit, a clearly tired and emotional Henry replied “Fight you,” before falling asleep awkwardly on his microphone.
NEWSDESK: Auckland bogans today gave Eden Park’s world cup dress rehearsal their seal of approval. West Auckland man Daryl Flannelette reported a thoroughly enjoyable experience at the All Blacks vs Wallabies match from what he can remember, telling reporters “It’s by the waterfront eh? No? It’s still good. Bro, I was pretty wasted.”
West Auckland man Carl ‘Metal’ Saxon praised event security’s diligence, who found and confiscated his bourbon-injected watermelon, but missed the six ‘Turbo Tequila’ shots he’d concealed in a bodily cavity (“Sucked in!” said Saxon). The east and west stands’ temporary seating gave the park a special feeling, which Saxon enhanced with several ‘Kronic’ cigarettes he was able to enjoy without detection. Food and drink at the ground was labelled ‘adequate’ from a bogan perspective, but both bogans we spoke to admitted they were recklessly inebriated before entering the ground, and believe eating is cheating when drinking alcohol.
The only down point was one Mount Eden resident charging fans $25 to urinate on his driveway pre-match. “I’ve been pissing on that guy’s driveway for free for years,” said Flannelette. “Twenty five bucks! I’ll be back mid-week to get my money’s worth.”
Bogans did not share media concern over Auckland’s public transport. “Mate, I was worried all those people queuing for trains would wreck my buzz, but I was able to hotwire a car in Cricket Ave in minutes, and was inside Showgirls half an hour after the final whistle,” said Flannelette. Saxon eliminated the transport issue altogether by spending the night at the ground, reporting the concrete in the west stand concourse was “smooth” and “surprisingly warm”.
NEWSDESK: Former All Black Stephen Donald has made himself at home on a Kapiti Coast beach. Donald, who was dropped from the All Black training squad this week, was discovered by Peka Peka Beach resident Gladys Coronation, who was out walking her dogs. “I thought I was seeing things, it’s pretty unusual to see an All Black in this neck of the woods. He seems content, but he’s just… sitting there.”
Coronation contacted the Department of Conservation, who are advising that people should remain at least ten metres away from Stephen Donald at all times, and that dogs should be kept on a leash. “Donald could deliver a vicious peck if he feels threatened. Best case scenario is that he eventually swims back out to sea,” said a DOC spokesperson.
The residents of Peka Peka beach have taken Stephen Donald into their hearts, and are taking it in turns to stand guard. “I’d love to throw a blanket on him and say ‘Just forget about fucking up in Hong Kong, bro’ but you have to let him be. You just have to let him be,” said local hardcase Gavin McEyebrow.
Some residents were concerned about Donald’s well-being and wanted DOC to intervene – the DOC spokesperson said staff were investigating long-term intervention plans if needed, but there was not a lot they could do. “There are no facilities in New Zealand that can care for Stephen Donald long term.”
The only other recording of an All Black living on a beach in New Zealand was Alan Hewson’s stint living at Southland’s Oreti Beach in 1985.
NEWSDESK: Otago Highlanders marketing exec Steve ‘Steve’ Landrover, who conceptualised changing the famous blue, gold and maroon colours to green, has been instructed to not have any more ideas.
Landrover, who believes Highlanders management “aren’t seeing the bigger picture,” said “I triangulated this opportunity for literally hours. HOURS. When you factor in the synergies between rugby – which is played on grass, and grass – which is green, it’s obvious.”
When told about the new green playing strip, which is launching this Friday, Highlanders Chairman Ross Laidlaw commented “fucking WHAT?” before refusing to comment. Otago salwart Laurie Mains is outraged, telling reporters “It’s fair to say I’m outraged – I don’t even know how outraged I am to be honest, but I’m sure it’s going to be pretty fucking outraged. I’ll figure it out and get back to you,” before hurrumphing weightily several times.
Landrover’s plans for ‘Bring A Flaming Couch, Get In Half Price’, ‘Buy One Beer, Get 14 Free’ and ‘Kids Get Pinecones Covered In Cow Shit day’ promotions have been shelved at this stage.