Burdon: America's Cup equation adds to zero

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2014

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OPINION: New Zealand's dysfunctional relationship with the America's Cup is coming to an end.

Finally, the reality of a small Pacific country trying to run with some of the world's richest and most egotistical individuals appears to be reaching an inevitable conclusion.

Prime Minister John Key believes public interest in the yachting event is waning and that any future challenge can't be based around government funding. Surely any decision on public funding should be based on reliable data showing just what sort of benefit a challenge would return to New Zealand, not on whether there's a perception that people are getting bored with it.

Money in for money back. Simple.

If the equation stacks up, by all means open the public purse. If not, smell you later.

★★★

The football World Cup is the greatest sporting party that you haven't been invited to.

We know all too well what we are missing out after the All Whites qualified for 1982 and 2010, but unfortunately for the occasional fan, any interest boils down to which team you got in the office sweepstake.

For the record, I got Honduras - ranked 32nd of 32 teams in Rio and playing $2000 for the win.

I've kept that $5 in my pocket.

Alternative options include supporting Australia (no thanks), or maybe England (nuh uh).

Due to family ties, I've got a soft spot for the Dutch. Can they go all the way?

★★★

Those of us who have been watching Ben Smith play fullback for the Highlanders during the past few seasons were the least surprised when he tore it up against the English in the second test in Dunedin.

Israel Dagg may be the incumbent, and the All Black selectors deserve some kudos for the importance they place on loyalty, but it's been clear for some time that Smith is the best fullback in this part of the world, and perhaps the world in general.

His only real problem is that he's too good, meaning he can be used with varying levels of effectiveness in other parts of the backline.

Will Smith be able to back up in Hamilton tonight? And what would that mean in terms of the rest of the season for Dagg?

The other big talking point tonight will be the starting debut for Malakai Fekitoa.

The Highlanders rookie has impressed with the way he has lifted his game as the pressure has increased in Super Rugby.

But the intensity of test football is another matter altogether, especially against a quality English midfield.

The prospect of an All Black midfield of Ma'a Nonu and Fekitoa is a bruisingly exciting one. The proof of whether these two can be a success will be what sort of space the All Black wingers get put into tonight.

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★★★

You know your interest in State of Origin has waned when a New South Wales series win prompts a weary shrug and not much more.

The emotion shown by the likes Jarryd Hayne and Paul Gallen after the final whistle on Wednesday night suggested the right team have taken the peanuts on this occasion.

After eight straight series wins, Origin needed a blue winner and, thankfully, it got one, even if the game itself was largely forgettable.

What it all means, of course, is that next year's win by Queensland will be all the sweeter.

And don't rule out a big win for the Maroons in the dead rubber.

- The Southland Times

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