The best adversaries of 2013 sporting seasons

Last updated 05:00 15/12/2013
Stephen Kearney
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AWKWARD WEEK: Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney dumped Tohu Harris to make way for Sonny Bill Williams.

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"GIVE AND TAKE"

Kiwis league coach Steve Kearney and Melbourne Storm player Tohu Harris: Kearney handed a World Cup jersey to Tohu Harris one day, then took it away the next after Sonny Bill Williams had a change of heart. Kearney squeezed him into his cup squad at the expense of a devastated Harris, who also wasn't amused by Williams' confused thinking.

"YOU'RE OFFSIDE!"

Ricki Herbert and the NZ football media: Herbert's reign as All Whites coach ended ingloriously with failure to qualify for next year's World Cup finals in Brazil. Seeing the writing on the wall after the disaster against Mexico, Herbert let fly at the local hacks, believing they hadn't given him the respect he deserved. But there can be only one winner when you take on the media on moral grounds. Ricki marched off with an own goal next to his name.

"THAT'S A DOUBLE FAULT"

Marina Erakovic and Tennis NZ and High Performance Sport New Zealand: The Kiwi tennis No 1 returned home from a solid year looking to train hard. Yet neither Tennis New Zealand nor High Performance Sport New Zealand could assist with providing coaches, and when she paid $12,000 to bring trainer Ryan Curtis from the United States to help her out, she was refused entry to gym facilities at the Millennium Institute. What's a girl gotta do?

"CROUCH, PAUSE, DISENGAGE"

Andy Dalton and the Blues: After a long and unsuccessful tenure in charge of the Blues, chief executive Andy Dalton finally got the boot this year. The former All Blacks captain must have seen the writing on the wall when the New Zealand Rugby Union sought expressions of interest for part-ownership of the Super Rugby franchises. Murray Bolton's takeover swiftly disposed of Dalton, who made many a coach the scapegoat for the Blues' failings. Though he retains control of Auckland rugby, Dalton was not pleased at his axing and is known to have consulted lawyers. Things could get a little awkward at the Eden Park Christmas lunch.

"NOT VERY TACK-FUL"

America's Cup adversaries Jimmy Spithill and Dean Barker: They live in the same street but we doubt they have each other over for Xmas turkey. Jimmy's cheery wave each day from the letter box must drive Dean crazy. "THE PRICE OF FAME"

Sir Alex Ferguson and David Beckham: In his biography Fergie accuses Beckham of "surrendering" his talent to chase the celebrity lifestyle and squandering the opportunity to become "an absolute top-dog player" and "one of the greatest Man United legends". But then he reveals the real reason he decided to sell Beckham: "David thought he was bigger than Alex Ferguson. There is no doubt about that in my mind."

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"I'LL PASS ON THAT, THANKS"

Wales rugby coach Warren Gatland and English referee Wayne Barnes: In a case of déjà vu, Barnes found himself the centre of scrutiny again at Millennium Stadium, where he had been castigated for his 2007 World Cup performance that saw the All Blacks exit in the quarter-finals. This time it was Wales on the end of a lack of a forward pass call from Barnes as Israel Folau slipped a ball to Joe Tomane for a crucial try in the Wallabies' streaky 30-26 win. "The referee made the decision himself, without the TMO," Gatland noted. "I doubt he would have made that decision himself if it was the All Blacks playing."

"CRICKET CONTRACT TURNS TO ASHES"

Cricket Australia and Mickey Arthur: The powers that be sacked their South African coach on the eve of the mid-year Ashes series in England because he'd lost the dressing room. Arthur reckons Shane Watson was his biggest problem, though he needed to implement a culture change. "They're good players, they're not great players. They're earning obscene amounts of money and they've got big egos," was how he described the Aussie team. "TOO CLOSE TO

THE TRUTH"

David Warner and Jonathan Trott: Sledging dominated the Ashes rematch Down Under as the Aussies employed an aggressive approach to assert some early dominance. This included Warner calling Trott's second-innings dismissal in Brisbane "pretty poor and pretty weak". By the end of that opening test, Trott quit the tour due to a "stress-related illness". Ouch!

"A GOOD KEANE MAN"

Sir Alex Ferguson and Roy Keane: Fergie didn't miss notorious hard-man Keane in his tome either. "The hardest part of Roy's body is his tongue," he wrote of Keane's stream of caustic comments that littered the Manchester United dressing room. Keane says his relationship with Ferguson is "non-existent" and that he has started watching United games again now David Moyes is in charge.

"NET RESULT IS A FEUD"

Tennis divas Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams: Williams took a veiled dig at Sharapova's relationship with a male tour player, to which Maria replied with a verbal overhead smash about Serena and her coach. Maria: "If she wants to talk about something personal, maybe she should talk about her relationship and her boyfriend that was married and is getting a divorce and has kids." Ouch.

"YOU WOULDN'T LET IT LIE"

Golf rivals Tiger Woods and Sergio Garcia: Garcia claimed other players dislike Tiger but added he was the only "one who has the guts to say it". Woods had the last laugh when Garcia lost to him after a brutal collapse in the Players' Championship.

"YOU WANNA PIECE OF ME?"

League bruisers Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Burgess: Burgess lined up SBW in his return game of league and was still doing it right up to the World Cup semis. The two don't like each other but SBW's too nice to say so.

"THAT'S NOT VERY CHARITABLE"

Gabby Agbonlahor and One Direction fans: The Aston Villa striker was the subject of death threats from rabid One Direction fans after he injured one of the boy band's members, Louis Tomlinson, with a crude tackle in a charity football match.

- Sunday News

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