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The Last Word

Author: Danny Weidler
Date: 14/03/1999
Words: 1000
          Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 119
Athletes told to fake it

ATHLETES presented to the crowd at Stadium Australia last Saturday night were forced to lie about team allegiances and are none too happy about it. The entertainment organisers needed to match up a high-profile athlete with each team in the NRL and in many cases simply told athletes ?il,10l,6p which team they had to "support". Miles Stewart has Manly supporter's gear in his house, but was told he was to accompany Ian Roberts on stage and give a video testimony that he was a Cowboys fan. Athlete Louise McPaul is a Steelers fan but was made to support the Eels on the night. Triathlete Nici Andronicus, a Manly fan, was drafted to arch rivals Norths. Chris McCormack is an ardent Cronulla supporter, but was told to back the Warriors. And so on.

Always fast

GET set for the Nova Swatch. A watch boasting the artwork of Nova Peris-Kneebone will be launched worldwide on March 30.

Ronaldo keen

WE have heard that local promoters of the big soccer game between Australia and the FIFA world stars are claiming megastar Ronaldo wants to play for the world team. Ronaldo needs a clearance from his club Inter Milan, though Christian Vieri, the former Sydney boy who played for Italy in the World Cup, is a more likely candidate to play.

Just Cruisin'

SOLOMON Haumono's former girlfriend, Gabrielle Richens, is trying her darndest to meet Tom Cruise. It seems Richens is keen on an acting career and is sure to use tapes of The Footy Show as reference material. Who knows, Cruise may prefer the acting ability of Fatty, Sterlo and Blocker.


LITTLE wonder Tongan representative Uili Fukofuka was the source of great embarrassment at the recent International Rugby League Board meeting. Nobody could pronounce his first name.

Channel 9's Olympic ambush

CHANNEL 7 executives are fuming about Channel 9's Olympic ambush. It was Channel 9 that broke the story about the look of the torch for the Sydney 2000 Games, a story Seven would have expected to be given because it paid a massive amount for the Olympic rights. Insiders say Seven missed the story because of Graham Richardson's connection with Olympics Minister Michael Knight, with Richardson's close ties to the Kerry Packer-owned station being well documented. To make matters worse for Seven, the official Olympic ticket sellers, Mark Taylor, Michael Klim and Susie O'Neill, are all Channel 9 identities. Channel 9 is laughing all the way to the bank as it gets great mileage out of the Olympic rings without having had to pay a cent for them.

Signs of a thaw

SAM Riley and Norwegian speed-skating hero Johann Koss are trying hard to sort out the problems plaguing their relationship. Their wedding has already been delayed and no date has been fixed for any union. But while swimming insiders say the nuptials are definitely off, Koss is in the country at present and apparently living in the same house as Riley. Stay tuned.

Just friends

WE told you recently of the split between ironwoman Linda Halfweeg and ironman Nathan Meyer. Now Halfweeg has been incorrectly linked with fellow athlete Ky Hurst. The pair, who have been friends for more than 10 years, are training together, that's all. Hurst is far more interested in a Melbourne model called "Kinga". Wallaby Ben Tune has always been a huge Halfweeg admirer, but is in a relationship.

Brooks' soft side

NEIL Brooks has been busy during his time away from television after a series of boofheaded comments in a men's magazine. Brooks has been consoling TV star Teresa Livingstone, who has just broken up with her long-term man and who has been living in Brooks' Watsons Bay abode. Rumours were still dancing around late last week that he wouldn't return to Channel 7, though if he does appear as scheduled tomorrow night we will see a Brooks slimmed down by a Queensland health retreat, reports say.

Just smile and say cheese, Nicole

FORMER Channel 9 celebrity Greg Ritchie jeopardised his job with the network after a couple of mid-air shockers. Nicole Stevenson, who presents Wide World of Sports, had her own mid-air tiff last week. Faced with flying to Melbourne and back in one morning, Stevenson was a little on edge. She put her newspaper under her seat and it was pinched by a fellow passenger. "Excuse me, but that's mine," she told him. To make up for her inconvenience, the paper pincher gave her a Big Mac voucher. It turns out the culprit was Charlie Bell, the Australian chief of McDonald's.

Don Bradman too ill for cheer

IN a week when American sports fans are mourning the death of legendary baseball player Joe DiMaggio, it saddened us to hear Sir Donald Bradman isn't well enough to record a message for a reunion of the 1948 Invincibles. The lunch, at the Sydney Football Stadium on March 25, will bring together a number of the Invincibles, possibly for the last time. Neil Harvey, Arthur Morris, Bill Johnson and Sam Loxton have confirmed they will be there on the big day. A bronze bust of Bradman will be auctioned to raise money for Westmead Hospital.

Ritson at work

LEAGUE fans will be pleased to know Adam Ritson has started work. He has a job at Peter Wynn's Parramatta sports store and apparently is glad to be out and about.

Money talks

SUSIE O'Neill's profile continues to soar. Her management has just upped her corporate appearance fee to $10,000 from $7,500. Wallaby skipper John Eales also raised his price for speaking to $5,000 from $3,500. Eales has more than 100 requests in front of him so his bank account won't suffer because of his shoulder injury. O'Neill this week picks up the cosmic blue convertible that manager Rob Woodhouse promised for breaking a world record.

Fraser moves

LEGENDARY swimmer Dawn Fraser has moved out of her Balmain home while she awaits council approval for renovations. Fraser is living at Malabar with a friend of her daughter. Meanwhile, daughter Dawn Lorraine is recovering well from a neck operation.


THE most unusual rugby league injury of the first round belongs to Sydney City forward Justin Dooley. He dislocated his partially amputated ring finger and, because he only has a stump, it proved impossible to put back in place. The man attempting the fix, trainer Ron Palmer, has a similar digit.

In the wings

SPECULATION continues about the future of Ryan Cross. The ARU's interest in him hasn't diminished even though he signed a long-term deal with Sydney City. While Cross hasn't cracked first grade, you can bet he would be in the NSW Waratahs squad. If he isn't a regular top-liner soon, there may be a blow-up.

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