Tatt's the way the future looks
Raiders win the NRL in tattoo scandal, Shane Warne joins England for the Ashes and the Wallabies play some running rugby. Photo: Digitally Altered
Here we go again. Another year has disappeared quicker than Lance Armstrong's credibility, with no shortage of highs and lows, heroes and villains jam-packed into the past 12 months.
What's 2013 going to bring in the world of sport? For that, let me wipe off the dust and glance into The Canberra Times' crystal ball for a list of accurate and straight-laced predictions.
So before you load up on the Stilnox and see in the new year with the Australian men's 4x100m freestyle swimming team, here's what you should expect to see on the sporting fields in Canberra and beyond.
MATCHING TATTS GUIDE RAIDERS TO NRL TITLE
Taking inspiration from Sandor Earl and his newly-dried #Dorguson artwork, the Canberra Raiders follow the lead of their winger and get themselves tattooed from top to toe. Buoyed on by useful phrases like, ''catch the ball'', ''kick on the fifth tackle'' and ''always run at Chris Sandow'', the Raiders defy their odd-year curse to win their first premiership since 1994. However, knowing that a title would mean the Raiders would be removed from their Channel Nine slumber, the NRL steps in and deems the ink work breaches the salary cap. Ian Schubert personally removes the offending tatts, but gets his wires crossed and accidentally returns Josh Dugan to his former clean-skin self. Dugan is subsequently banned from Tuggeranong.
COLOURFUL WHITE GOES OUTSIDE THE BOX
Enthused with Brian Smith's contribution as the club's newly-employed collision expert, ACT Brumbies coach Jake White brings in an eclectic bunch of offsiders for his second season with the Super Rugby club. The coach's box at Canberra Stadium is expanded to cater for the explosion in support staff. Those include a choreographer for try celebrations (although in the 15-a-side game it's a part-time position), carrier pigeons to send Wallabies coach Robbie Deans weekly reminders of the Brumbies' position on the Super Rugby ladder compared to the NSW Waratahs, and a hippie for spiritual guidance. Oh wait, that's just Willie Nelson doppelganger Laurie Fisher. My bad! After a dynamic one-match cameo from Sonny Bill Williams (see below), the Brumbies go on a sterling end of season run to make the finals for the first time since 2004.
DOLLAR, DOLLAR BILL YA'LL
There's just one name on everyone's lips in the football world in 2013 - Sonny Bill Williams. Not content with tearing up the NRL, SBW becomes the first player to turn out in all four footy codes in a single season. After getting suspended in his first game back for the Sydney Roosters for an outlawed shoulder charge, Williams returns in time for New Zealand's rugby league Test against the Kangaroos. He falls in love with Canberra and signs with the Brumbies … only to fall in love with Perth after the Western Force game. SBW is rolled out as the new full-forward of the Fremantle Dockers before staying in WA over the summer to link with Perth Glory, citing his lifelong dream of representing the All Whites at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It's not long until Sydney FC comes calling, and SBW partners Italian superstar Alessandro Del Piero in the Sky Blues' attack. It's a match made in promoters heaven.
ROBBIE'S RUGBY EDUCATION
It's okay Robbie, it's not against the rules to throw the ball around and score tries in rugby union. In a desperate attempt to keep the wolves at bay, Wallabies coach Robbie Deans adopts a radical plan - play attacking, free-flowing rugby. Grubber kicks from the 25m line are scrapped as the Wallabies retain possession, chance their arm and leave the All Blacks bewildered at their kamikaze style. That sparks a chain reaction of copycats as every other country copies the eye-catching tactic and the 15-a-side game emerges from the doldrums, so much so Wendell Sailor denounces the St George Illawarra Dragons and embraces his rah-rah persona. It's all going swimmingly until Jonny Wilkinson bursts back on to the international scene, booting 20 penalty goals as the British and Irish Lions thrash the Wallabies 60-28.
SAY IT AIN'T SO WARNIE
Leg-spinning genius Shane Warne will be making an Ashes comeback - but it won't be for the country of his birth. After baulking at Australia's controversial rotation policy - which in Warnie's case involves alternating between baked beans and McDonald's, the Sheik of Tweak discovers an ancient English lineage on the Hurley side to form a dual-pronged spin attack with Graeme Swann. However, the much-anticipated returns goes horribly wrong when Warnie discovers a hair out of place during his first over. After a lengthy makeup break, Warnie storms off in disgust, retreating to the comfort of the commentary chair where he calls a 3-1 Australia series win.
NRL VIDEO REF SCANDAL
Oops, wrong column. This WILL actually happen in 2013. All the best for the festive season and happy New Year.