Rotorua Daily Post

sports reporter

David Beck

takes a look at the past week of sport.

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The Messam effect

Most sporting codes in New Zealand are fighting a constant battle to ensure there are pathways for young players coming through and that they are inspired to strive for excellence.

Former All Black and Chiefs stalwart Liam Messam did a fantastic service to Rotorua club rugby when he made a cameo appearance for his junior club Marist St Michael's on Saturday.

Being the highest-capped Chiefs player of all time and a 40-test All Blacks player comes with a lot of public interest and fanfare. Messam is well aware of this and was eager to use his public profile in a way which would benefit the sport.

He approached the Chiefs management asking for permission to play in the game and, while he was only allowed on for the final 20 minutes, supporters packed into Marist Park to get a glimpse of him. There was a fantastic atmosphere, providing the kind of boost that is essential to the survival of grassroots rugby.

He also spent a good half hour after the game posing for photos and talking with fans, greeting each with equal enthusiasm. These are all things he did not have to do, but his passion for the growth of the game was there for all to see. My favourite quote from Messam was if what he did inspired one child to pull on a rugby jersey, it was worth it.

With success at the highest level often comes ego, so it was nice to see one of Rotorua's greatest sporting exports has not forgotten where he came from.

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Global outbreak of football fever

It's Football World Cup time and I, for one, am pumped.

For a whole month we will be treated to daily displays of the best players in the world's most popular sport going head-to-head.

The most intriguing part of the tournament is how hard it is to pick what will happen - that is the beauty of sport in general.

In the first three days alone we saw a country with a population of 330,000 - Iceland - draw with heavyweights Argentina, during which Lionel Messi had a penalty saved by a part-time film director. We watched Cristiano Ronaldo score a hat-trick against the 2010 champions Spain, Iran won their first World Cup game since 1998 and we've had two 90th-minute winners.

The favourites to win the 2018 World Cup going into the tournament were defending champions Germany and Brazil. However, Germany suffered a shock 1-0 loss to Mexico in the first round, while Brazil drew 1-all with Switzerland.

There are even plenty of non-football fans throughout New Zealand getting involved through office sweepstakes, which adds another level of excitement.

I opted in for two teams. The first I pulled out of the hat was Iran, so I was relieved to see the second was Argentina. Who would've thought Iran would be the first of the two to get a win?

Bring on the rest of the tournament, even if I can't pick a winner to save myself.