This has been a week dominated by winter bugs and Kleenex. Fully formed thoughts have been impossible to corral. Here's nine half-baked ones instead.
1. In terms of the World Cup cycle, Eddie Jones could not have come to England's rescue at a worse time. He has proven to be a smart, transformational leader but there has to be serious doubts as to whether this mind-games approach can work as effectively for an entire cycle. His bluffs will start to be called. Here's my theory: if your succession plan comes from within, it doesn't really matter when you make the changeover; if it comes from outside, it should be done no further than 12 months out from the World Cup. A new coach brings vitality to a programme that is hard to counter. Players want to impress, new ideas are grasped with enthusiasm, the inevitable sprinkling of new players inject energy and everything gets ratcheted up a notch or two.
2. The No 7 jersey holds a special place in New Zealand hearts but it has also hosted a startling array of unique talents. From Waka Nathan's ferocious elegance to Graham Mourie's cerebral link play; from Ken Stewart's work on the ground to the still unparalleled athleticism of pre-knee blowout Michael Jones; from the every-blade-of-grass style of Josh Kronfeld, to the ever-evolving, indefatigable legend that was Richie McCaw, the All Blacks have been blessed on the openside. In time, I suspect, rugby fans here will also grow to love Cane's combination of link play and power. Give him time to stamp his mark.
3. Ardie Savea and Beauden Barrett may well have Shag, Fozzie, The Professor and Foxy in their ears telling them they've done the right thing, but I promise you this: when they're on their rocking chairs trying to keep grandchildren off their arthritic knees, they'll regret not having a crack at an Olympic medal.
4. Wales have a bunch of new sporting heroes... and they're not playing with an oval ball.
5. State of Origin has never been so desperate for a NSW win. Not even the pre-game hype could save Origin I from being a dreary, unloved spectacle and the prospect of a dead-rubber Origin III must have league bosses genuinely worried.
6. If it weren't for MySky, I'd be choosing OJ: Made in America (part two of five), tonight anyway. Part one was everything I hoped it would be: a fascinating rags to riches tale of race, sports, pop- and counter-culture, fame, greed and lust. It is the ultimate American story. And it's all true.
7. Tears shed for the expulsion of the Russian track-and-field team from Rio: zero. Might they, however, be justified at looking askance at the variation between the 'death' penalty they received and the far more conciliatory treatment shown to the likes of Belarus, Jamaica, Kenya, Spain and, yes, even the US - all countries where there has been evidence of large-scale doping in the past.
8. The NBA finals were magnificent theatre and the is-LeBron-better-than-Steph? subplot made it even better, but I still maintain that no sport does a better job of trying to turn it's final minutes into an anticlimax than basketball with it's tactical fouling and interminable timeouts.
9. Neil Wagner aside, New Zealanders are hardly setting the County Championship on fire. This is a rare winter that allowed several New Zealanders to showcase their talent on the English scene, but there has been one word for it so far - underwhelming.
I'm buying... the Mistake by the Lake
Tomorrow is going to be a big day in Cleveland, a city that hasn't had the best press over the years as you can tell by the city's nickname. You can now see why the city was so upset when James left and are now so pleased to see him back. It is evidence that sport can lift a city and help it find it's soul.
I'm selling... The USGA
On the same day the Cavaliers were bringing pride back to a city that had forgotten what a championship looked like (1964 was the last time a professional sports team from Cleveland won a title), the US golfing burghers were wrapping themselves in a cloak of idiocy. Dustin Johnson isn't the most popular player among golf's uppity Republican Party donors, but allowing him to play the final sevens holes of the final round of the US Open with the threat of a penalty hanging over his head was plainly dumb. His fellow golfers were united in their disdain, forcing the USGA into a grovelling apology.
I'M READING ...
This is a thoroughly reported, damning look into how systemic Russian cheating was enabled for so long.
MY LAST $10
Back in business after a cute little almost-double-my-money double.
Last week: My wish to see a game seven of the NBA finals translated to a winning first leg of this Cleveland/ Sydney Swans double. The Swans were always going to be too tough for Melbourne in Sydney. That was a $19.40 collect.
This week: Unsure what possessed me here, but have gone for an all-Australian multi with a number of legs. All head-to-head, I need Queensland to win Origin tonight, then Collingwood, GWS, Geelong and Richmond to win their respective AFL matches. Even as I write this I can see it's a bit dumb. All that for $39.30 gross collect.
Total spent: $190 Total collected: $264.65