Chris Rattue: Tempting fate with a crystal ball

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This time last year it was the season to be jolly - jolly wrong about a lot of things, that is.

Making wildly inaccurate predictions for 2007 (especially that the Rugby World Cup was as good as won for the All Blacks) was grossly irresponsible.

Apologies, particularly as some people seemed to think it was all the media's fault for being so cocky. But there was also the odd success.

This newspaper was Nostradamus-like in declaring that the New Zealand cricket team didn't have a hope in hell of winning the World Cup, and so it proved to be.

Back to the negatives. Hands up here, because we did fail to give the public an inkling that the cricket tournament in the West Indies may be tainted by a murder plot. And we failed to signal that the NZRU would set up a commission to investigate itself.

Which goes to show that you never know what's around the corner in sport, unless you happen to be playing Australia at cricket.

Here's an honest attempt at telling it like it will be for 2008.

Australians may not always understand what their new rugby coach is on about.
There's a good chance that the Wallabies will improve their recent win-loss record under Robbie Deans, but a rugby mob raised on the sharp tongues of Alan Jones, John O'Neill and Eddie Jones is in for confusing times.

"We will be a lot better for this experience and will grow from it but it does show we have a great ethic and positivityness in the group," might sound like the keynote address at the Guidance Counsellor of the Year awards but Australians might find it is also a major plank in a Bledisloe Cup victory speech.

Note: Positivityness is a word Robbie Deans will invent in 2008.

Scott Dixon will NOT run out of petrol.
Not even when he's mowing the lawn. If there is the slightest doubt about his ability to finish, Dixon will make that long walk back to the garden shed for a refuel. If you happen to see a bloke trying to wring a few more drops out of a nozzle at your local petrol station, it's probably Scott Dixon.

A multi-choice, interactive question for 2008

Graham Henry will be:
A: Exactly the same?

B: No different to what he's always been?

C: Ted to a T?

A New Zealand rower will win Olympic gold in the single sculls Ooops. Just broke the golden rule, getting all 2007 again and making wild predictions about famous victories. Here is the theory though: Mahe Drysdale and Rob Waddell will push each other so hard for selection that the victor will be a lean, mean, unbeatable machine. In the interests of a negative good luck charm, we also predict that the New Zealand single sculler will sink in the heats.

Valerie Vili will win the Olympic shot put gold.
On a roll now, making crazy predictions all over the place. This is clearly just another cynical media attempt to bring a national sporting hero down.

Sarah Walker will win an Olympic medal.

Parents, ask your kids who Sarah Walker is.

Scott Dixon will win the Indycar series for a second time and his first Indy 500.

Whew. The big one. That's why it's buried under the Olympic predictions - you hate to tempt fate too prominently. But Dixon was so close on both counts in 2007. The bloke is special, to use a word that has a special place in sport.

A top New Zealand rugby player or six will head to Europe.
Odds on.

A disappointed NZ Rugby Union will thank him/them for his/their contribution/s and offer best wishes.
A dead cert.

The Bledisloe Cup games will be the spiciest for some time.
It should be a right stoush between Henry and Deans. Read all about it, although the two coaches won't read too much into it of course. Just another game and all that.

Australia will win the League World Cup.
Always a pundit's favourite. A safe port in the storm to boost a tipster's average - the equivalent of playing Zimbabwe in cricket.

Olympics. Drugs.
Another handy arrow for a tipster's bow.

Beijing will be a very law abiding Olympics - apart from the steroids of course.
Here's a warning because they don't give them - don't mess with the Chinese cops. Their courts aren't big on diversion schemes either.

Cycling customs and Chinese customs could make for an interesting Olympic cultural meeting point.
And it would make a great fly-on-the-wall TV series.

Don't mention the Olympics and human rights unless you want to get really confused about Olympian ideals.
Too late. We just did.

Someone will point out that the Olympics leave a carbon footprint.
Although it's not nearly as scary as the food miles clocked up by the Kiwi league team.

There will be a tense conclusion to the 2007-08 English football premiership.
This season's finish is shaping as the best for a few years although not, once again, if you are a Spurs supporter. Spurs have been put on Earth to prove that money doesn't necessarily bring happiness. Supporting Spurs just shades posting your retirement fund to Nigeria in terms of returns on a lifetime investment.

Rio Ferdinand will not be expected to organise the Manchester United players' Christmas party all on his own in 2008.
The main reason being that there won't be a Manchester United players' Christmas party in 2008. Hundreds of Mancunian models will have to make do with a traditional roast at their mum and dad's instead.

David Beckham won't play against the Wellington Phoenix.
This is a way of mentioning the Phoenix without making any predictions about them.

Roger Federer will win three Grand Slam tournaments.
Yawn (just kidding - the Fed is fabulous).

Tiger Woods will win three majors.
And he will be very grumpy about missing out on the fourth - life just ain't fair sometimes.

A Hail Mary tip - legendary quarterback Brett Favre's unbroken sequence of Green Bay Packer starts will end or be broken.
Where did that one come from - right out of the clouds. Anyway, it's got to happen some time. You can't spend most of your adult life dodging wild rhinos dressed as footballers without a mishap occurring eventually. This is a bit of a cheap shot because it's one of those tips where you celebrate your own genius if it proves correct but laugh it off when it's wrong. There is an outside chance Favre will retire this year and he is approaching the age of 39 so the odds are mounting up against this truly remarkable run continuing. Favre's run of 270-plus consecutive starts over 16 seasons has to be the most freakish thing in all professional sport - we've got rugby jokers who can't even survive the warm-ups.

The Warriors will snare a top eight finish in the toughest league competition in the universe.
This is a way of mentioning the Warriors without tempting fate by mentioning the name of their captain and Australian prop who does the work of two normal props or the work of four current Kiwi props (Roy Asotasi excepted).

Melbourne will win the NRL premiership again.
You can't do a page of predictions without at least picking one competition winner, and Melbourne look about as good a bet as any among the various Australasian competitions. They've got the best coach, development system and dummy half plus a strong engine room and all the brilliant trimmings. Plus they don't have Willie Mason. This last factor should not be underestimated.

There will be a story about an NRL player, a nightclub, a girl and a phone camera.
As certain as a Willie Mason headline.

Australia will have a great year in cricket.
They are fantastic. You could watch that Ricky Ponting bat all day, and often have to.

Two Formula One teammates will start a lifelong friendship.
Spot the rogue prediction

Michael Campbell will shoot a round in the 90s.
The day after he shoots a 62.

The Crusaders will make the Super 14 top four.
Group positivityness will get them there again.

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