Chris Rattue shares his observations on amazing Lydia Ko, the NRL grand final and poor old Robbie Deans.
Wow. Lydia Ko. What more can we say - the girl who is ranked as the world's top amateur is absolutely amazing. The 15-year-old from North Harbour won the individual title at the world amateur team contest in Turkey, beating the next best by a crazy six shots. Not that I care two hoots about the Halbergs - an overhyped exercise in comparing apples and oranges if ever you've seen one - but she'd get all of my votes.
2 The Ryder Cup golf is more exciting than the four majors. This year's finish was another classic of agony and ecstasy. A few characters around this office announced on Sunday night that the Americans would not be beaten. They were, and a few of their players looked rather ashen-faced. Fantastic sport. The majors still rank among the best sports contests but the Ryder Cup gets the pulse racing. A kerfuffle involving celebrating American players in 1999 helped spark the whole thing up. A bit of rude behaviour doesn't go amiss now and then.
3 Craig Bellamy is the best club or provincial coach in world league or union. His Melbourne Storm are a triumph in the art of coaching, organisation and recruitment in the NRL's salary cap era. The Storm concentrate a lot of money on three amazing core players, have a couple of highly regarded frontliners alongside them, and operate a changing cast around that. The rapid rise from the salary cap controversy of just two years ago is amazing for a club who might have collapsed under different leadership. Their defence around the centres and overall cohesion was superb in the grand final win over the well-coached Bulldogs. In contrast, Bulldogs centre and recalled Kiwi Krisnan Inu appeared to be making lone wolf defensive plays, as is his habit, and paid a price. On paper, this Storm side is hardly better than most others in the NRL. But Bellamy is way better than the rest.
4 Try as some might, there is no way of finding an excuse for ear biting. Any attempt to play down James Graham's attack on Billy Slater in the NRL grand final has to be discounted. What possible motivation could inspire such a horrendous act and what possible satisfaction could anyone derive from biting another person's flesh. It is downright disgusting, and Graham - if as guilty as he looked - should go for a long skate. He might try some counselling as well.
5 Be afraid, very afraid. There was a video replay incident during the Currie Cup match between the Lions and Sharks in South Africa that should concern any rugby fan. In this particular trial, the scrutiny can go back two phases. In this case, the referee agreed for a review of a knock-on incident he had already ruled on. The delay to the game was long, extremely disruptive and pathetic. Be warned.
6 The All Blacks aren't always at peak but they display a consistent calm when placed under pressure. The way they extricated themselves from a dodgy start against Argentina was very impressive, especially considering the venue and most of the Pumas' other performances in the Rugby Championship.
7 Hooray. It's about time someone dropped Manu Vatuvei, and the Kiwi selectors have come through. He is erratic, mistake prone and has not been in good enough form. Vatuvei made another critical error, a dropped pass, in the Kiwis' loss to Australia at Eden Park this year. Getting axed might stir him into action. Storm forward Sika Manu might be the unluckiest player to miss out but Steve Kearney's side have the ingredients to be a very good one - it's time to get another one of those rare wins on the board in Townsville on Saturday next week.
8 I'm sick to death of Robbie Deans' lame responses to Wallaby losses. After getting belted by South Africa, he tried to discount the result on the grounds of the injury carnage and babbled on about his brave troops. What a load of codswallop. A lot of modern sports-speak is gobbledygook - excuse-making, career-enhancing garbage that has unfortunately found its way into the general conversation. Test losses are test losses, and not part of a grand development plan.
9 Sam Kasiano has declared for the Kiwis instead of Queensland and Australia, a cause for celebration, and it may be a wise choice for his own career. On the grand final showing, there are doubts about his capabilities in the State of Origin, which requires extreme fitness and concentration. I'm not sold on my own theory here, but the thought did occur because the big man struggled against the relentless Storm. Maybe it was just part of his learning curve. Remind us again why Kasiano qualified for Queensland ... oh forget about it. All this allegiance stuff is way too tiring.
10 I still can't get over Lydia Ko. Does she ever fail to do the business? The girl is a machine. She also seems to have a well-balanced and sunny attitude towards life - let's hope she can translate this amazing success as a junior and amateur into the professional ranks. Go Lydia go.