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

Chris Rattue's sporting bucket list for 2017

A  trip to the Chesapeake Energy Arena to see Steven Adams in action has to be near the top of a Kiwi sports fan's bucket list. Photo / AP
A trip to the Chesapeake Energy Arena to see Steven Adams in action has to be near the top of a Kiwi sports fan's bucket list. Photo / AP

Dreams are free, although maybe not in Bermuda. Time for the 2017 bucket list, the events I would most like to get to this year and why (with a few dream reasons thrown in).

1) The final round of the world rally championship, with Hayden Paddon going for the title - Coffs Harbour, November.
Driving on dodgy roads is in our blood. Finally, we've got someone who is exceptionally good at it. Paddon finished fourth in the 2016 World Rally Series and made history for Kiwi motorsport when he won a round, in Argentina. Invincible world champ Sebastien Ogier changes cars this season because VW have pulled out, so maybe there is hope for everyone else. Paddon has always believed he can become the world champ. Imagine if the 2017 title went down to the wire, in Aussie, with Paddon in the frame.

2) League World Cup - Papua New Guinea, October/November.
All together now...PNG is the only country in the world where league is the national sport, and their fans go absolutely mad for it.

PNG league deserves far more support and recognition than it gets. This would be an exotic adventure to a true sporting heartland, to watch the Kumuls play Wales and Ireland in group matches.

3) The opening test between the Lions and All Blacks at Eden Park - Auckland, July.
A big Lions performance in this game, and it's all on for young and old in the three match series. This far out, I hope the Lions win the first test, to set up a heart-stopping series. We don't need a series flop a la 2005. The Lions hold a special place in the heart of rugby fans over a certain age. It's unlikely they will ever reclaim that place totally - the wonders of the amazing 1971 tour are beyond repeating. In this modern world of instant gratification and shortened attention spans, waiting 12 years for something is still very satisfying. Can't wait for something we've had to wait a long time for.

4) The US Open tennis tournament. August/September
Anything that gets me back to New York is a good thing...and this tournament has a magical atmosphere on TV.

5) An Oklahoma City Thunder home game. Anytime.
The experts say Steven Adams' team can't win the NBA this season, so I'll bow to that and pencil in a regular season game. Thunder fans are famously loud - a trip to the Chesapeake Energy Arena has to be near the top of a Kiwi sports fan's bucket list as Adams' star keeps rising. (even though basketball remains a mysterious game tactics-wise to me).

6) World athletics championships - London, August.
Eliza McCartney. Tom Walsh. Maybe even Jacko Gill. And even more importantly, to be there for Usain Bolt's farewell. To watch the greatest sprinter in history, in the flesh, would be amazing. And London holds so many great memories.

7) ANA Inspiration golf major - California, March/April.
The 2017 LPGA season shapes as an earlier-than-expected watershed for Lydia Ko, after her game hit speed bumps leading to a second coach getting the boot. It would be fascinating to be there as Ko defends her 2016 Inspiration title, the first major of the season. Her initial coach Guy Wilson is among those who have talked about how mentally strong Ko is. She will need to be. Will Lydia Ko ever dominate world golf again or simply slip back into the leading pack? Probably the latter.

8) The UEFA Champions League final - Cardiff, June.
...if Leicester City are one of the teams making it. The Foxes gave us the story to beat all sports stories last year, when the rank outsiders won the English Premier League title. They won't go close this season after a poor start. But Claudio Ranieri's team can still embark on a giant killing run in the Champions League, so this amazing story might still have legs in 2017. Certainly hope so.

9) Joseph Parker' first WBO heavyweight title defence - somewhere on this planet, April (maybe).
Working out who Parker's opponent will be, plus where and when the fight will take place, involves digesting more dodgy plot lines than on Coronation Street. London would be great...the Brits love boxing and England feels like the centre of the heavyweight scene for now. Wembley Stadium though? That sounds a little far-fetched, and far away in terms of viewing. To be picky, I'd prefer a smaller venue.

10) Indian Premier League final - Hyderabad, May.
Don't even like T20 cricket, and don't trust the IPL. But the way those crowds carry on is amazing. Would love to experience that wild cricket passion first hand.

11) America's Cup, Bermuda...on expenses, May/June.
Bermuda sounds lovely, if you can afford it. The capital, Hamilton, has just been rated the most expensive city in the world. Give the America's Cup its due - it sure can sniff out anything that isn't a bargain. New Zealand will struggle to qualify as challenger to Jimmy Spithill's Oracle. But hey, that's life. And life is all about the journey not the destination, which in this case means it is all about the destination - Bermuda (on expenses).

- NZ Herald

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