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Failed sports jock turned couch commentator Justin Latif casts his eye over all things sport in Auckland, and belches out his own take on the comings and goings of our city's finest athletes and teams.

Warriors should raid Super Rugby

05:00am 02 Nov 2012


It seems the fallout is continuing at the Warriors. Following head trainer Craig Walker moving on, Tony Iro looks like he may well join him at the Roosters. This will give the Sydney side a fairly sizeable contingent of ex-Warriors in their coaching staff and a playing roster which should make for an interesting match-up next year.

But that is the least of Matthew Elliot's worries. He's obviously got to find better centre options than Bluey did and work out what to do with his surplus of back-rowers, while facing a dearth of quality wingers.

It seems the gaps are going to being plugged with a few journey men, and he'll be sweating on Jerome Ropati and Dane Neilsen to stay fit for most of the season.

And it seems, from my distant vantage point, that there's not much talent left to grab in the NRL so perhaps Elliot should consider perusing the healthy rugby stocks of this country.

To help him I've compiled the top seven rugby buys from this season's Super 15 New Zealand conference:

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Strong AB side playing outside NZ

05:00am 26 Oct 2012


Following North Shore sharp-shooter Mike Harris booting his adopted nation to an unlikely draw against the All Blacks on Saturday, it got me wondering how many other top players fall outside the All Blacks' selection radar.

So like any good sports junkie with too much spare time, I decided to come up with a top XV of Kiwi rugby players who aren't eligible for the All Blacks because they're based overseas.

It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, given much of our best talent is staying put in New Zealand. I've selected some players out of position and am hoping to get a lot out of a few old timers for what would be an imaginary one-off match against the current All Blacks to raise more money for Christchurch's new cathedral.

Sadly for Harris he still doesn't make the cut for this squad, as Nick Evans has remained the number two first-five in the world despite his many years in exile.

I went for Kahn Fotuali'i at halfback, even though he now represents Samoa, because he was born in New Zealand and developed his game here too. And I think he has the spark and running game to keep Aaron Smith on his toes.

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Aces show NZ cricket the way

05:00am 19 Oct 2012


Following New Zealand's fairly poor showing the T20 World Cup, it's been good to see the Auckland Aces' strong performances at the Champions League T20 tournament.

The boys in blue are showing there's plenty of talent waiting in the wings for New Zealand cricket, but they are also reaping the benefit of recruiting some pretty handy old statesmen.

Unsurprisingly, legendary Pakistani cricketer Azhar Mahmood is topping the batting and bowling averages for the Aces. But below him is up and coming west Auckland slugger Anura Kitchen, who's averaging 43 over four matches.

Black Cap Kyle Mills has the best economy rate for the side, but he's been ably backed up Ronnie Hira, Michael Bates, and Andre Adams.

Four games don't make a summer, but it seems the Auckland has produced some fairly handy cricketers, who have obviously honed their craft enough so they're able to handle an international level of cricket.

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Warriors headed for uneasy season

05:00am 12 Oct 2012


The New Zealand Warriors have gone for the most underwhelming choice of coach in the NRL.

Like me, many Warriors fans will be feeling fairly empty right now, knowing our team is about to be led by the man who got sacked for Ivan Cleary.

Wayne Scurrah, Owen Glenn and Eric Watson obviously see something in Elliott that rugby league legend Phil Gould did not.

But over the next two seasons Elliott will have the chance to prove me wrong - unless he gets sacked, that is.

His first challenge will be winning over a dressing room which seems to have thrown its support behind the incumbent Tony Iro.

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A super city needs a super facility

05:00am 05 Oct 2012

Our super-city needs a super training facility if the Blues and Warriors are to be truly competitive in this highly professionalised sporting landscape.

The superb NRL Grand Final between the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury Bulldogs showcased not only the two best club teams in the competition, but also what results from having two of the best training facilities in Australasia.

According to Sydney Morning Herald columnist and former super coach Roy Masters Des Hasler moved to the Bulldogs after being given a sneak preview of the club's new $9 million Centre of Excellence at Belmore, in south-west Sydney.

The centre has leading rehabilitation technology, a gym allowing the use of GPS technology throughout players' workouts and provides an environment conducive to giving players the best chance of reaching their potential.

Clearly the opportunity to coach a side assisted by the best technology money can buy was too good for Hasler to pass up.

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