Welcome to 2013. There's little doubt 2012 is a year best forgotten if you are a Vodafone Warriors fan but the good news is that this season under new coach Matthew Elliott looks on track to be much better.
I had Matt over to Waiheke Island over the Christmas break and we were able to talk a lot about the team and he outlined his plans and strategies. I have to say everything I heard was music to my ears.
Over the weekend I went to the 40th birthday of my good friend, an icon of Kiwi - no, world - league, Ruben Wiki. That gave me a chance to talk one-on-one with a number of the current Warriors and without exception they were all incredibly positive about their new boss and looking forward to getting to work for him.
There was lots of talk last year about the players not looking particularly fit but that won't be a concern this year because we have a new trainer and I can tell you he has been flogging the boys and they are loving it.
They have another full-on week this week but are looking forward to their pre-season trial against the Penrith Panthers at Waikato Stadium on February 16.
It's a 4pm kickoff with the Juniors playing the curtain-raiser.
Even as a trial, honour is on the line because this is the first time Elliott will have come up against our old coach Ivan Cleary.
Don't miss out because it is the only trial game in the North Island this year.
There's a special ticket offer on the go.
For just $40 you get an adult ticket to the game on the Saturday and a ticket to the one-day cricket on Sunday when the Black Caps play England, again at Waikato Stadium. Ticketek has the details but I reckon that'll be a cracking little weekend away.
I also got to catch up with a few sporting personalities over the break. Basketball nut John Dybvig is always good company and I enjoyed seeing my great mate Tawera Nikau, who was on the island for his birthday celebrations, and of course I have been doing a lot of kayaking with my great mate, former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry.
I'm looking forward to a great 2013 - it's going to be a ripper!
- Manukau Courier