SCOTT SIO might look like a monster on the tennis court, but some of Canberra's best had the ACT Brumbies prop ducking for cover at Lyneham on Saturday. Sio, Zack Holmes and backs coach Stephen Larkham were on hand for the Canberra Velocity's first home round of the new Asia-Pacific Tennis League. Sio had a devastating forehand when he got on to it. But a couple of Velocity players lined him up with some lightning serves and the big fella was ducking and weaving out of the way. Larkham, whose cousin is Velocity coach Todd Larkham, was taking it seriously. The former champion flyhalf strapped his ankles to ensure there were no injuries. It adds variety to the Brumbies' pre-season schedule. They've also linked with the AIS to drop off the excess weight any players were carrying in the off-season. The Brumbies are working in conjunction with the institute's sport science department to design programs suited specifically for Super Rugby players. Outside back Tevita Kuridrani and new recruit Jordan Smiler were among those spending time in a sauna as the Brumbies leave no stone unturned to improve on last season's impressive showing as the AIS boffins examine everything from the players' core temperature, sleep patterns and blood pressure. Core temperature, sleep patterns; it's a far cry from the old days when recovery consisted of sharing a few stubbies with the opposition.
Project with heart
A FANTASTIC initiative by the Red Cross is set to reduce the amount of fatal heart attacks in sport, like the one that claimed the life of respected Tuggeranong cricketer Glenn Thornton. Project Defib allows sporting clubs to receive an industry leading defibrillator, which analyses the heart rhythm and will automatically detect whether the victim requires a shock to re-establish a normal heart rhythm. Thornton died following a heart attack on the field during a fourth-grade match in October. Statistics have proven immediate access to a defibrillator can lead to over a 70 per cent survival rate if applied within minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest, while current survival rates are less than seven per cent. Each sporting club will have access to a $1600 subsidy to go towards the cost of the defibrillator as part of the program. For more information, call 1300 769 930, or visit www.projectdefib.com.au.
Blues over presentation
THERE are a few rumblings across the border with players from the Queanbeyan Blues frustrated the club didn't have a presentation night this year. The Blues won the reserve grade premiership and had to farewell first-grade captain Jay Lasscock, who died after the season. A presentation night would have given the players a chance to remember their tough year and pay tribute to a mate. But two months after the end of the Canberra Raiders Cup, the players still haven't had a chance to get together to reflect on the season.
McCrones' baby joy
CONGRATULATIONS to Canberra Raiders half Josh McCrone and wife Courtney, who became proud parents for the first time earlier this month with the birth of Ava Lulu McCrone. Let's just hope Ava can understand her dad better than when he's giving post-match interviews with his mouthguard firmly in place. McCrone has a superstition born from junior footy where he doesn't take out his mouthguard until he's completely dressed after a game. McCrone's Raiders teammate Joel Thompson also had reason to celebrate in the off-season, tying the knot with partner Amanda Palmer in Canberra before enjoying a romantic honeymoon in Bali. The hard-hitting second-rower also completed a course with the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre as he looks to put back into the community.
THE return of West Indies great Sir Viv Richards, Michael Holding and Joel ''Big Bird'' Garner brought the memories of the glory days of Test cricket flooding back. Canberra Cavalry general manager Peter Bishell recalled the day he faced one of the fastest bowlers of all time, Andy Roberts, in the nets. If that wasn't scary enough, Bishell did it using one of former Windies captain Clive Lloyd's bats, which made modern bats look like toothpicks. Bishell played junior cricket for NSW.
IF YOU see a half-orange, half-white cab driving around Canberra it's probably the Canberra Cabalry in honour of our Australian Baseball League team. Having a personalised vehicle is a fad that's been spreading among Canberra sporting teams in the past few years. The Canberra Raiders had their own bus decked out in recognisable lime green for road trips to Sydney, an idea this season borrowed by reigning W-League champion Canberra United. But taking the cake are the Canberra Capitals, who have a tiny car emblazoned with the club's logo. Good luck trying to fit the 196cm frame of Lauren Jackson in there.
United's unlucky break
THE score sheet hasn't been the only thing affected by Canberra United's inability to find the back of the net at times this season. In the pre-match warm-up against Adelaide United two weeks ago, 13-year-old ball girl Grace Maher stuck her arm out to stop an incoming wayward shot, and broke her wrist in two places. It was a freak accident, but one for which the club was keen to make amends. Maher plays in the midfield for Majura and the Canberra United under-14s representative squad. She visited a United training session where she had her green cast (of course) signed by the team, and picked up some advice from the players on recovering from injury.
Window to the Brumbies' world
WE KNOW players do it tough when they're coming back from injury, but we didn't know how tough it was until we saw Christian Lealiifano washing the windows at Brumbies HQ last week. Lealiifano was one of the best players in Super Rugby last season. But he missed the last few games after dislocating his ankle. He's expected to return to full training with the team in the coming weeks, but in the meantime he's got a sponge and soap cleaning the windows at the club's Griffith base. Like the trooper he is, Lealiifano didn't complain. Apparently it's part of the Brumbies' chores to keep the headquarters sparkling before next season. Some players have to wash dishes in the high-performance kitchen while Lealiifano was stuck washing the windows.