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John Passant

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February 2014



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



On cloud nine, the Auckland Nines

Some have described the Dick Smith Auckland Nines rugby league competition a few weeks ago as ‘glorified touch footy.’ I disagree.

I went to Auckland as a guest of Dick Smith, the major sponsor of the Nines, courtesy of a competition to be the Dick Smith Auckland Nines reporter which my friend Troy Simpson won.

Far from being touch footy, the football was tough, exciting, fast, free flowing and engrossing.

Where else can you go and see all 16 NRL clubs play at least 3 games (9 minutes a half, 9 players, unlimited interchange) over two days? The one ‘downside’ is that for Dragons supporters like me this meant watching my team lose its first two games.

They played boring crash and bash football, much like the Raiders, my second team given I live in Canberra.

The quality of running football far outweighed any momentary pangs I felt for the poor play of teams like the Dragons and Raiders. Those teams who threw the ball around often won.

It was a revelation for example for me to see Shaun Johnson from the New Zealand Warriors play live for the first time. His genius, sheer pace and tactical positioning were all on display and he deservedly won the MVP of the tournament.

Indeed the most exciting team in the competition were the home team, the Warriors. Every time they played the 46000 seats in Eden Park filled almost to capacity. They responded by playing attacking football.

The Auckland crowd cheering their team on to the rafters was what rugby league should be all about – enthusiastic supporters being thrilled by fast football and applauding lots and lots of tries.

The pity was that in the semi-finals everything the Warriors tried failed whereas in their previous 4 games they had all come off – the short kick offs to regain possession, running the ball and tackling well.

The Canberra Raiders were, like St George-Illawarra, their usual stodgy selves – slow, dull and unexciting. It is the sort of football that not only didn’t win the Dick Smith Auckland Nines, it won’t win the premiership or fans.

Half-hearted approaches to the Nines and the failure of some coaches and major players to attend are possible signposts for their future in the ‘real’ competition.

I hope the half-hearted prove me wrong but I suspect this is an indicator of a deeper football malaise at the ‘don’t try too hard’ teams.

Auckland was abuzz that weekend. People approached me in the street asking about my Dick Smith Auckland Nines top and where they could buy it and tickets. We were told tickets were sold out before the games.

Just under 90000 attended over the two days, an outstanding result in the first year for this competition and given the 92000 maximum seating capacity over that time in the ground.

The competition was a great step forward for Rugby League in New Zealand and one which all the NRL teams should support fully in the future.

The Dick Smith Auckland Nines also showed an alternative to the usual defence oriented, forward-barging games in the premiership. Here was a fast game of running and passing, of attack, excitement and constant try scoring. If only the premiership could emulate that approach, the fans would come roaring back.

Auckland is a delight. Our nine Dick Smith group members (notice a pattern here) went for a Harley Davidson tour of the city; some of us went up Sky Tower for a Sky Walk and jump; some also went around the beautiful harbour on an America’s cup yacht.

On top of that, that weekend Eminem played in town and the Chinese New Year Lantern Festival lit up nearby Albert Park and the crowds at night.

We were  in the Dick Smith corporate box eating and drinking (heavy on the food, light on the grog), courtesy of the wonderful Elisabeth, our waitress for the weekend. Her first day on the job and she charmed us and helped us. We were she said a great group of people, unlike the drunks in boxes nearby.

And did I mention we met Joey Johns, Wendell Sailor, Gordon Tallis and Tim Brasher at drinks or in the corporate box?

The breakfast the day before the game had over 500 people and a coach or captain from each of the teams at a table.  The public lunchtime launch on Friday attracted thousands of excited fans.

The Dick Smith Auckland Nines was one of the best rugby league or indeed sporting tournaments I have ever attended. This was such a great few days of fast football and Auckland was so warm and welcoming that I will be going back next year, whenever it is held. I’d suggest you try to book early because it will become very expensive closer to the day next year and harder and harder to get seats.

The Dick Smith Auckland Nines definitely is hobbit forming.

I had added this as a paragraph in the article which I submitted to the Canberra Times, unsuccessfully as it turns out: As someone given to left field thoughts, and given its undoubted success, my suggestion is that the ACT Government and Tourism body think seriously about whether they could launch something similar in a different code which brings together all the national teams in a shortened and more exciting version of the game. AFL and rugby union are ruled out, so maybe there is a possibility with say Soccer Sevens or similar, where goal after goal could excite the crowd.


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