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This time, for the game’s safety, Suaalii was sent off.

But it still does not put Suaalii in the middle of some grand conspiracy, master-minded by Carroll and Elias or anyone else.

The answer must be to do what the UK Super League plans to do from 2025 and lower the legal tackle height from below the neck to below the armpit. Super League rule changes regarding head contact introduced this season in the lead-up to the tackle height change have already been credited with “several hundred fewer tackles making contact with the head compared with this stage last year”, according to The Guardian.

All up, the game has to go lower.

Cue howls of protest from the real dinosaurs, the curmudgeons who don’t get it.

High rollers return

Saturday is the big day, folks.

As if you didn’t know, it sees the long-awaited return – after a five-year hiatus caused by the Covid pandemic and having better things to do – of the Australian Marbles Championship at Brunswick Heads.

But this year, courtesy of local resident Heidi Vievers, the event will run from 11am to 2pm in Banner Park, opposite the Hotel Brunswick. There’s not only snags, but a chance to snag one of the coveted trophies. TFF would have thought that the man to beat is the carry-over champion from 2019, Damian Farrell, but I am worried.

In an exclusive interview with TFF this week, he acknowledged, after probing questioning, that his confidence has been shaken.

See, at a Christmas party last December, work colleague Jess Wilkes, brought along her four-year son Huey Kapeen, with a full bag of marbles, and an attitude.

And what happened, Damian?

Damian Farrell, left, and Huey Kapeen battle it out in a practice match.

Damian Farrell, left, and Huey Kapeen battle it out in a practice match.

“He towelled me up,” he replies, a near broken man. “Backed by a heavily biased, non-impartial crowd, Huey took no prisoners. Since December, I have tried explaining on numerous occasions to Huey, in a variety of intimidating tones, that it was an unsanctioned event, it was, in fact unofficial. Huey just looks me in the eyes and says, ‘I beat you!’ Or sometimes he retorts with a metaphorical upper cut, that he smashed me. Four-year-olds should be banned! He wasn’t even born when I legitimately won the title in 2019.”

We will see. TFF has the exclusive rights to report the results here next week.

Ballad for Rebels’ demise

Look, the moment was barely noticed, but when the nearly extinct Melbourne Rebels played Fiji Drua in Lautoka last Saturday, the crowd sang for them the haunting Isa Lei – the traditional Fijian farewell song and one of the most beautiful ballads in the world. Take it away, as you sway …

Isa lei, na noqu rarawa,
Ni ko sana vodo e na mataka
Bau nanuma, na nodatou lasa
Mai Suva nanuma tiko ga.

Isa lei, the purple shadow falling
Sad the morrow will dawn upon my sorrow
Oh forget not, when you’re far away
Precious moments at Suva.

Farewell, you Rebels. We hardly knew ye.

Fijian Drua fans gave the Rebels a send-off in Lautoka last Saturday.

Fijian Drua fans gave the Rebels a send-off in Lautoka last Saturday.Credit: Getty

Cricket just gets more funny

That oldest of all old lines, “It’s a funny game, cricket,” is not built on nuttin’. Of all the games on earth, isn’t cricket the one with the greatest capacity to turn up new things that even old-stagers have never heard of before?

This week in England, was a case in point. As reported by the BBC, when Wedgewood’s 2nd XI went up against their Checkley counterparts for the Cricket Cave Talbot Shield, Wedgwood had a shocker. When all was said and done, and a hush feel over the ground, they were all out for just eight runs, in 10.1 overs – including eight ducks.

In reply, Checkley’s opener Blake Haddrell cracked the first ball for four, and as that was a no-ball, the team were five runs to the good. When that first ball was re-bowled, he cracked it through the covers again for another four. Marvellous shot, that. It’s all happing here at Stoke-on-Trent!

Checkley won a 40-over match after just one legitimate ball of their chase. Oh come on, one more time for the road. Everyone thoughtfully rub your chin and indeed say after me: “It’s a funny game, cricket!”

What They Said

@JamieWall2 tweets: “If you think this could be the low point of Joseph Suaali’s career, just remember he’s signed with the Waratahs next season.”

Queensland assistant coach Nate Myles sledges Joseph Suaalii after he was sent off.

Queensland assistant coach Nate Myles sledges Joseph Suaalii after he was sent off.Credit: Channel Nine

Queensland assistant coach Nate Myles, to Joseph Suaalii as he was sent from the field seven minutes into Origin I: “I hope you enjoyed your debut.” Charmed, we’re sure, Nate.

Joseph Suaalii fronted cameras outside the Blues’ team hotel on Thursday morning:“Obviously a bit disappointed, letting my fam, my state, just my teammates down. I feel like that’s really the toughest thing about it. Just got to move on from now.” Joseph? You didn’t just let them all down. You let YOURSELF down. Thank you. (Someone had to say it.)

Alex de Minaur after being knocked out of the French Open by fourth seed Alexander Zverev in straight sets: “I left my heart out there, I did everything I could, and it just wasn’t good enough. I’m still happy with the way I showed up … [and there is] lots to learn from.”

De Minaur on the French kid in the stands that lifted him so much in the victory over Daniil Medvedev: “That young lad was there from the very first point until the last with five hours of rain delay. He was this little kid that every single change of ends, every single point I won, he was screaming at my face. I’m looking at him and thinking ,‘If I was a fan, I would probably be back home because it was bloody cold out there’. I don’t understand what this kid is doing, but he gave me life. Every single change of ends I’m looking at him, locking eyes with him. It was amazing. I appreciate this kid.”

Canberra fullback Jordan Rapana on leading his team to victory over the Dolphins, which included one field goal to take them to golden point: “I done some things to almost lose that game so, uh, I had to pull my finger out otherwise I would’ve got a ribbing from ‘Sticky’ [Ricky Stuart].”

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US swimming legend Katie Ledecky says faith in anti-doping measures ” … is at an all-time low. It’s hard going to Paris knowing that we’re going to be racing some of these athletes. And I think our faith in some of the systems is at an all-time low.”

Mirra Andreeva, 17, on the start time of her stop-start second-round French Open match that finished close to 2am: “It was around 10pm. I’m usually already in bed by that time.”

Peter V’landys on rugby league saving the world with the PNG team: “The [Australian] government is extremely keen because of national security there is no doubt about that.”

English golfer Charley Hull who’s being touted as the female John Daly: “If you think I’ve got a lot going on on the golf course, you should see what I’m like at home.”

Melbourne Demon Max Gawn after a bad loss last weekend: “They’re games that if we dig down and look at our culture and our last five years, we don’t think it’s us.”

Team of the Week

Matildas. After two sell-out matches for mere friendlies against China, they must be close to knocking off the Australian men’s cricket team, as the most beloved national team? Discuss.

Queensland. Great win for them. And the problem wasn’t just the goodies were a man down for 73 minutes. As noted by TFF, the next two tries Queensland scored didn’t have a one-man overlap. They had a three and then four-man overlap. NSW just completely out of their depth. And DCE, among others, was masterful.

Alex de Minaur. Had his best grand slam result so far, making it to the quarter-finals of the French Open. And he is now being coached by MY godson, Matt Reid, clearly doing a great job!

Michael Megna & Sally Siotou. The mayor of Canada Bay, the local federal member along with a host of teams of healthcare professionals from Concord Hospital and a bunch of cancer survivors have signed up to StepUp for Survivorship 2024, whereby we, the mob, can sponsor them to increase their physical activity and raise funds for cancer research.

Sweden and Denmark: As noted by my daughter Billie, they played each other in soccer this week. When they do, the score shows SWE-DEN. The remaining letters, not used, spell DEN-MARK. Thank you. I will be in my trailer.

Novak Djokovic. Pulled out of the French Open after hurting himself. If the end is not necessarily near, it at least feels like his dominance is done.

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