Tony Veitch: Kiwi pair should join eight

By Tony Veitch

New Zealand olympic gold medalists Eric Murray and Hamish Bond at NZME Central to launch their book The Kiwi Pair. Photo /  Dean Purcell.
New Zealand olympic gold medalists Eric Murray and Hamish Bond at NZME Central to launch their book The Kiwi Pair. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Bring it on!

This was always just a pie-in-the-sky idea. Take one Eric Murray, throw in Hamish Bond, top it off with a guy who personifies sporting guts and determination, Mahe Drysdale, and you have the makings of an historic eight. As Murray said today on my Newstalk ZB show, what more have they got to achieve?

They are unbeaten in 69 races. Sure, they could go for the ultimate in Olympic history and become the first Kiwis to win three consecutive Olympic golds, but there is a point when owning the opposition becomes predictable and motivation is affected.

So why not try to complete the final puzzle in New Zealand's rowing dominance?

Remember Munich in 1972 when New Zealand won the blue riband event? Imagine what it would be like to have three proven gold medallists in the engine room of the eight.

Before I hear you start drawing comparisons to rugby sevens and bringing in the XVs stars to replace those who have done the hard graft, New Zealand rowing doesn't work like that.

It's about the boat. It's about winning. Don't perform and not only do you lose your spot in the team, but your funding also disappears. I know NZ Rowing will be weighing up one medal in a big boat versus the potential of two or three in small boats by splitting our talent pool, but I just say, 'bring it on'. Let's at least try. Give the boys a year off and then let them set sights on yet more Olympic history.

Dinner, please

Liam Malone has become the people's favourite. If the Halbergs could hand out an award for Personality of the Year, lock in Liam.

Here's a bloke who has his life sorted. It's not like he plans to take a break after winning two gold and one silver at the Paralympics. Oh, no, that's not Liam's style. He has a business degree to complete, sky diving training school to pass and he needs to work on his one-liners if he hopes to achieve another goal in life: stand-up comedian.

To cap it off, he wants to be an actor. I imagine he'll be more than happy to do his own stunts as well.

He has the x-factor. I've already had a mate who runs Chapel on Ponsonby Road offer Liam a free bar tab for a year. Luke reckons Liam will be great for business.

All of this got me thinking about the old question: who would you love to have over to dinner and just chew the fat?

Well, here's my sporting top five:

Liam Malone - head of the table, clearly; Eric Murray just shadowing him on the no BS counter; Cory Jane to unleash every secret he could on the inner workings of the All Blacks; Grant Fox to give CJ a clip across the ear when he goes too far, which will be often; and, finally, Lisa Carrington, to keep the boys in check and explain how she manages to push her body and mind to places it's never been.

There's my list. What's yours?

The cut throat world of professional sport

We often talk about how tough the modern sporting life has become, with social media trolls, a lack of anonymity, the knowledge that the average life span of an NRL player is 46 games, such are the demands on the body... But nothing comes close to the cut throat world of professional sport in the United States.

It really is a dog-eat-dog world as Kiwi fullback Paul Lasike found out last week. After two games in the NFL regular season for the Chicago Bears he's already been given the big 'don't come Monday' chat.

There's no mucking around in these franchises worth billions and it's a blow for us in little old New Zealand. I loved his story, how a kid from Westlake Boys took up a rugby scholarship in the US before being spotted by an astute American Football scout who saw real talent in Lasike. I also saw real potential in Paul Lasike growing the profile of NFL here in a similar way to Steven Adams and basketball. Now he's back in the land of the unknown - every scout, every tackle, every practice, every coach who sees him could be the difference between living the American dream and just dreaming.

Bored with the All Black ... Bollocks!

Mark this year down as the time when even the most passionate talkback caller ran out of things to moan about when it comes to the All Blacks. Remember when we were chokers, our lineout was rubbish, we got rolled at scrum time and we were only good in between World Cups? We copped it all. Remember when selection day was a big deal, when the South would fire up when Andrew Mehrtens was usurped by Carlos Spencer? Now the reaction has flatlined. Why? Because life is so good.

This All Blacks team are magnificent and their record over the past four years ridiculous. Some might be finding it boring, and are turning off their TVs, but it's not a view shared by most.

I do a lot of MC work with All Blacks Hospitality and in Christchurch last week our rooms were chocker. And at the post-match, instead of people calling it a borefest, they loved it. When the All Blacks host the "woeful" Wallabies (Graham Henry's words, not mine) at Eden Park on October 22, Labour weekend no less, we have sold a record amount of corporate hospitality packages. You can tell me all you like you're getting bored with winning, bored of a real contest, but plenty of Kiwis are telling us with their hard-earned cash, they're loving it. That's enough for me.

Gossip time

I'm hearing strong whispers the world's eighth-biggest franchise competition is heading to free-to-air TV in New Zealand. The Big Bash has turned into a monster across the ditch. They have nailed the combination of sport and entertainment, so much so 1.3 million Aussies tune in every night. On top of that, 48 per cent of those in the crowds matches are female and around 20 per cent have never been to a sporting event in their lives. Welcome to the brave, new world of sport. Make it fun and they will come. I'm told the Australian Cricket Board are pitching the idea of putting the Big Bash on one of our free-to-air platforms. This is significant because it's another example of how quickly the way we view sport is changing. Don't be surprised if New Zealand Cricket follow suit with something similar.

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