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The Sydney Morning Herald

Ribot has the last laugh over Storm in China

Date: 17/09/1999
Words: 574
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 40
THE much maligned global vision of former Super League chief executive John Ribot is a reality. Melbourne Storm games are televised in China, the most populous nation in the world, every weekend.

The man who was ridiculed for suggesting every Chen of China and every Manfred of Munich would soon be ordering Brett Kimmorley jumpers via pay-TV has had the last laugh.

Frustrated by the National Rugby League's inability to televise games in Asia, Ribot, managing director of the Storm, reached an agreement in January with ESPN Star Asia to show Storm games.

Fans living in Asia, communicating with the Herald by e-mail, report watching Storm games at midnight.

Honda, a sponsor of the Storm, back the weekly telecast.

NRL officials admit Ribot made the arrangement without consulting them.

Chagrinned chief executives of rival clubs, such as Canberra boss Kevin Neil, say fans in distant provinces of the Orient regularly e-mail him with protests they can only see the Raiders when Canberra play the Storm.

Channel Nine Melbourne have embraced Ribot's southern vision by agreeing to telecast the Storm's elimination grand final match with Parramatta at 8.30pm tomorrow night.

Channel Nine have opted to truncate their coverage of the Victoria elections, obviously convinced the Storm represent a a lesser chance of being involved in a one-sided result.

Should Melbourne defeat Parramatta tomorrow night and therefore play in Sunday week's grand final, Sydney radio station 2UE will provide a direct coverage of the game via 3AW.

Australia's most current sporting hero, swimmer Ian Thorpe, admitted yesterday he almost became a Storm supporter.

``When Canterbury joined Super League, I almost followed Melbourne," Thorpe said at a lunch arranged by the Australian Olympic Writers and Photographers Association.

``I was looking for a fresh start but when Canterbury went well, I stayed."

Canterbury defeated Manly in the 1995 grand final.

Thorpe said of the forthcoming games: ``I reckon Cronulla will defeat St George and Parramatta beat Melbourne, meaning Parramatta will win the grand final."

Thorpe said he will not gamble on the result, fearful he will lose his shirt. ``I have already lost my suit," he said.

``I was at a function at the Convention Centre in Darling Harbour on Wednesday night and when I went back to the dressing room, my suit was missing.

``Somebody had pinched it."

Australian long jumper Jai Taurima, fourth in the World Championships in Seville, Spain, had a different view of the Shark's grand final prospects.

``I believe passionately in the Sharks," he said. ``Cronulla built a clubhouse at Aspley, Brisbane, where I live, in 1978.

``It cost $100,000 and they didn't have a lot of money in those days.

``Since then, I have followed them like you wouldn't believe.

``When I came back from Spain and heard winger Mat Rogers was fit to play, I was over the moon.

``My fiancee loves him."

Australia's Atlanta bronze medal-winning beach volleyballers Kerry Potarst and Natalie Cook had little to say on the rugby league finals.

However, a tongue-tied Potarst invented a new word when discussing the kerfuffle over the choice of Bondi Beach as the site of the Olympic event.

She described it as a ``kerfuckus", a term which describes rugby league 19951999.

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