His mates joke he's batting above his average, but NSW opener Daniel Hughes first had to face up to The Raging Bull, rugby league hardman Gorden Tallis, before meeting his partner, journalist and presenter Erin Molan. Hughes made a cameo for the ACT Comets last week, but his first encounter with Molan, originally from Queanbeyan, was at a Sydney pub. "I had no idea who he was," Molan said. "I was with a few of The Footy Show guys and he asked Gorden if he could ask me to dance. Gordie looked at him and said, 'Yeah, OK'. We're very normal. We love doing the same things. We don't do any red carpet. We don't go to any events, or anything. We're either at home or at the pub having a schnitzel, betting on the greyhounds." Now things are really getting serious, the couple own a 10 per cent share in a filly out of leading Canberra trainer Nick Olive's stable. While Molan's television career is taking off from her days at WIN News, Hughes, 25, is just getting started. He has played one first-class match for NSW, but played two games for ACT Comets against World Cup side Ireland last week. "It was another opportunity for me to put some runs on the board and put pressure on the guys opening the batting for NSW at the moment," Hughes said. "I was happy to come down and represent the ACT."
THE DIRT ON BENNETT'S WORLD CUP DIET
Adopting a whole-food diet, drinking a vegetable juice concoction that tastes "like dirt" and going off the grog is Vinesh Bennett's trick of becoming one of the oldest players at the indoor cricket World Cup. The 39-year-old is aiming to help Australia maintain its dominance of the tournament when it gets underway in Wellington next week. ACT Rockets teammate, 21-year-old Matt Floros, is almost half Bennett's age, while Wade Burrowes and Alex Floros have made the Australian under-19 team. Bennett has made sweeping changes to his diet in the past few months to ensure he gets to his third straight World Cup. Fast food and beer have been given the flick, replaced by a whole-food diet of fresh fish, chicken and muesli, along with a vegetable juice combo including kale, celery, beetroot, carrot, tomato, ginger and broccoli three times a day. "It tastes like dirt, but I know now it's what keeps me lean and keeps me switched on mentally," Bennett said. "The whole-food diet was a tough one, just making sure we have that food there - fish, chicken with no gravy, that sort of thing. I'm particular with what I eat, especially since I move into the late 30s." Bennett was a late bloomer to the national team, making his international debut when he was 33 after moving to Canberra in 2007. In stark contrast, Floros was brought into the Australian side in a tour of the sub-continent last year when he was just 20.
MAGUIRE WANTED TO COACH RAIDERS
South Sydney premiership-winning coach Michael Maguire admits he had ambitions to be Canberra Raiders' head coach. Maguire led the Rabbitohs to the NRL title last Sunday, ending a 43-year drought in a historic grand final triumph. But the former St Edmund's College student and Raiders player wanted to be the Green Machine's leader, having started his coaching career at the Raiders. "It was something I aspired to. They're pretty close to my heart, the mighty Raiders," Maguire said on ABC Grandstand. "I did spend some great years there and saw some great times there through the early '90s. But you move on and you get opportunities in other places ... the people in Canberra are very special and that's where I was brought up."
CELTIC MANAGER WAITS ON ROGIC
Celtic manager Ronny Deila says injury-cursed Canberra junior Tom Rogic has a future at the club if he can overcome his groin problems. Rogic won't play again this year after having a second groin operation to fix an adductor problem that also shattered his World Cup dream. Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou already has ruled Rogic out of Australia's Asian Cup calculations in January. Deila said: "He's had a new operation, so it will take time to heal. He'll not be playing again this year. I haven't seen him play so much. We'll need to wait until he's back, but that will take some months. We've spoken, as he's training with us, but it's on the pitch I have to see him."
WHITE BACKS MCKENZIE AFTER 'ODD' TOUR
Brumbies and Wallabies scrumhalf Nic White has thrown his support behind Test coach Ewen McKenzie, declaring there is no player divide in the Australian set-up after an "odd" tour of South Africa and Argentina. White played for the NSW Country Eagles against the Canberra Vikings in the NRC on Saturday as he aims to keep his place in the Wallabies side to play the All Blacks next weekend. The Wallabies have been dogged by controversy since Kurtley Beale's mid-air altercation with team business manager Di Patston. "It was certainly one of the odder tours I've been on, but there's certainly no divide in the playing group," White said. "We're pretty tight ... we knew after a pretty embarrassing loss to Argentina that it's the media's job to find answers." Asked if McKenzie had the support of the players, White said: "Certainly. Most definitely. If we get a win against the All Blacks." Meanwhile, Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham has offered two United States players a chance to train with the club after a recruiting mission overseas.
PRINCE FULIVAI WANTED BY SUPER RUGBY CLUBS
He's the son of a Canberra Raiders cult hero, but Super Rugby clubs are lining up for Jordan Fulivai. The son of Albert Fulivai impressed Super Rugby scouts while playing for the Australian Schoolboys in New Zealand last week. It's understood Melbourne and the Western Force already have shown interest in the teenage sensation. But the ACT Brumbies are keen to keep Fulivai in Canberra and promote him through their ranks. Fulivai was told at the start of the year that he was too young to play in Canberra's under-20s colts competition because he was 17. The Gungahlin Eagles responded by adding the powerful fullback to their first grade side and he did not look out of place, despite playing against men twice his age. Now 18, he is one of the hottest prospects out of the Australian Schoolboys line-up.
AIS ARENA FLOOR
The AIS Arena's new $200,000 removable basketball court has been put in storage for the first week of the WNBL season, despite the surface being bought nine months ago. The Canberra Capitals will play on the Arena's 14-year-old parquetry floor for their first home game of the season against the Sydney Flames on October 18. Officials hope the new surface, which appears white instead of traditional timber, will be laid in time for the clash against the Dandenong Rangers on November 1. The surface takes 20 hours to lay and staff prefer that it be kept for basketball so it is not damaged by concerts or functions at the venue.