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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Normal sporting service resumes

Eliza McCartney. Photo / Getty Images
Eliza McCartney. Photo / Getty Images

The Rio glow will last a long time, but normal sports service is resuming, which means the Olympics are taking their place among the usual suspects.

Which leads to the following medley.

Don't try telling me Andrew McFadden is as safe as houses.

His position as Warriors coach HAS to come under scrutiny again, in a season falling short of expectations.

By some miracle, the Warriors are still a decent shot to make the NRL top eight finals despite horrible recent outings against South Sydney and North Queensland.

They trail the Gold Coast Titans by three points with only two rounds remaining. But the Warriors have winnable home matches against the Tigers and Eels, while the eighth-placed Titans face the highly-rated Panthers and Cowboys.

HOWEVER ... even if the Warriors do make the eight, it should not obscure their failure to live up to potential and expectations.

Until the ball gets to Shaun Johnson, there's a notable lack of creativity and that's just one of many problems.

There are so many questions that need answering, including:

1) Why is Ben Matulino's form erratic? He should be the Warriors' version of Storm powerhouse Jesse Bromwich.

2) Is David Fusitua a centre, wing or fullback? It's hard to tell.

3) Is Tui Lolohea a wing, centre, fullback or five-eighth ... or first grader?

4) How will the relatively delicate Johnson cope when the combative Thomas Leuluai - whose charges to the defensive line make the space for him - returns to England at the end of this season.

5) Why is a club which should be top four contenders a lot of the time in a mid-table muddle yet again.

Stay tuned, especially if the Warriors fail to make the eight. Debate about the club's direction needs to take place, either way.

Let's face it ... the re-shuffled All Blacks will crush the re-shuffled Wallabies on Saturday night.

It will be another walkover. Yes, they clashed in last year's World Cup final, but only kind of. The score was 34-17, and the gap has become bigger. The Wallabies weren't on the same planet as the All Blacks in the first test in Sydney. The All Blacks can talk up this week's contest all they like to get their attitude right. But we shouldn't.

India isn't a nation in mourning over Olympic "failure".

Far from it. I'd guarantee that millions upon millions of Indians don't give a toss about Rio. Sport's significance to the mood and reputation of nations is over-hyped. Are we really in the doldrums with exports plummeting because of the last America's Cup? Don't think so.

Olympic bronze medallist Eliza McCartney will become one of the biggest sports stars we've ever had.

It's not just her pole vaulting. She is super competitive and dedicated while remaining bubbly, happy, approachable ... I think the nation is already in love with Eliza McCartney in a way we don't often see with sports stars. We tend to do dour more than delightful - McCartney has an enchanting character which shines out from the TV screen. And to reach such heights at 19 indicates she could become one of the world's greatest pole vaulters.

High performance academies are not the be all and end all of sport. (And we probably owe Jeremy McColl).

Coach Jeremy McColl, a builder turned pole vault boffin, is the man behind McCartney's success. McCartney never forgets to thank the former gymnast, or to highlight his importance to her. One man and his dream can become many people and their dreams. McColl started out doing it his way, a latter day Arthur Lydiard-type if you like. He even paid for the many poles he imported from the United States as he set about making New Zealand a pole vault stronghold. It cost him countless thousands of dollars - he told me this year that he was too afraid to add it all up. McColl should send in a guesstimate bill, and someone should pay it.

Bryan Waddle has a good point.

The longtime cricket radio commentator has been waging a war in Durban, frustrated at the lack of play between New Zealand and South Africa because of damp patches on the ground.

There has been plenty of sun, and not much cricket, and Waddle is not amused. He was even hauled off the Kingsmead arena while trying to check out the conditions. "Our supervisor says you can't be out here," he was told by the man who took his arm.

Waddle is particularly annoyed at the lack of accountability and explanations from the match referee. It's great to see Waddle taking up the cudgels. After covering more than 200 tests, he's still got fire in the belly. It is an issue worth highlighting, and test cricket desperately needs people willing in influential positions to fight for it.

Pakistan's rise to be cricket's top test nation - for the first time since the ranking system was introduced - deserves plenty of fanfare.

It's a staggering achievement, given that they don't enjoy the advantages of playing in front of home crowds (for security reasons).

Misbah-ul-Haq, the captain since 2010, is being lauded by one and all as the chief inspiration for this unlikely success.

Their rise is also a poke in the eye for India, England and Australia, who act like they own the game. And probably do.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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