Tag Archives: Laura

Tr-Nations 2009: Only McCaw Can Save Us Now

Richie McCaw 3

The Iveco series came and went with much gnashing of teeth from the Great New Zealand Rugby Public. Stephen Donald was hung, drawn and quartered for the grievous sin of not being Dan Carter (one wonders how his Mum might have felt upon seeing her son on the cover of this month’s NZ Rugby World mag atop the headline “The Weakest Link – should we say goodbye to Stephen Donald?”); likewise, Luke McAlister for failing to hit the ground running after three months out injured, having not played test football for a couple of years. They are the All Blacks, after all, and defeat is not an option.

The scrum, once a symbol of our obvious masculine superiority to those puny Australians and soft Northern Hemisphere teams, is now a source of some consternation. Liam Messam has been talked up, and just as comprehensively talked back down again by recently re-signed coach Graham Henry; never mind the fact that his criticisms could just as easily been directed at underachieving wunderkind Isaia Toeava, or faded superstar wing Joe Rokocoko. The ‘back in the day’ crowd – David Kirk, Robin Brooke, Taine Randell et al have been wheeled out to offer variations on the ‘they need to harden the f*** up’ theme. So where does all this leave us, ahead of a Tri-Nations that offers no certainties for any of the three competing southern hemisphere sides?

Well, for starters, let’s take the Boks. Whilst they were good enough to defeat the touring British and Irish Lions 2 to 1, there is no ignoring the fact that the Boks actually played progressively worse with each 40 minutes of the three tests. A friend suggested that this may be due to the players starting out with formations and patterns they had used over the Super 14 (especially those of the champion Bulls), and then rapidly losing this structure under the influence of their half-witted coach, Peter de Villiers. His comments in the wake of the Schalk Burger gouging incident were nothing short of appalling, while the players demonstrated clearly that they are equally capable of misplaced team loyalty with their ‘Justice 4 Bakkies’ armbands – when you have gotten away with as much as Bakkies has over the years, I reckon you need to take the crunchy with the smooth…

The Boks clearly lack depth just as badly as the All Blacks do – clearing the bench in the first test nearly cost them the game, and PdV’s arrogance in naming of a second-string side in the third test probably cost them the clean sweep that the AB’s achieved over the Lions in ’05. Now that Burger is out for most of the Tri-Nations, young Cheetah (yes, that was a pun) Heinrich Broussow will most likely start on the openside, giving the Boks strength in an area they have not traditionally concentrated on, but weakening one of their strongest plays, the lineouts. Habana still looks short of a gallop, while inspirational skipper John Smit is clearly marking time on the tighthead, making way for superior rake Bismarck du Plessis. Plus their head coach, who could euphemistically be described as a ‘political’ appointment, is clearly an imbecile. This is not a team without its problems.

The Wallabies, on the other hand, look to be a fairly settled unit. They too have had a little controversy in the form of the Lote Tuquiri debacle – if rumour is to be believed, he was threatening a return to League in an effort to drive up the value of his contract with the ARU. Unfortunately for him, Robbie Deans is an excellent coach and selector whose succession planning has given the Wallabies a plethora of wing options – Drew Mitchell, Lachie Turner, Adam Ashley-Cooper and teen sensation James O’Connor – and is able to ditch a player whose ego had outgrown his value to the team. He has the luxury of having the world’s best first five (at least while Dan Carter is out of commission) in Matt Giteau, and another quality pivot in second five Berrick Barnes (who, together with fellow Reds midfielder Quade Cooper, has the silliest name in world rugby). He also has a steadily improving tight five – especially hooker Stephen Moore and hard-edged second rower James Horwill.

Lookng at it purely objectively, the Wallabies would seem to have the most going for them on a number of levels. However, the suspicion that they may have flattered to deceive with two wins over Italy that were no more convincing than the AB’s scratchy victory, and a win over a French side who were still congratulating themselves on their win over the AB’s in Dunedin hint that they may not yet have the wherewithal and self-belief it takes to win what is still a grueling competition that generally requires wins away from home to secure the title, wins they may not be equipped to effect. Not yet, anyway.

And then there’s the All Blacks. The return of the peerless Richie McCaw as both captain and number 7, and his trusty cohort Rodney So’oialo on the back of the scrum will add starch, workrate, and much needed experience to a green-ish forward pack; Sitiveni Sivivatu’s dazzling broken field running, and returning-from-injury first choice centre Conrad Smith’s excellent defence and positional nous should settle down what has been a terribly skittish 2009 effort from the All Black backs.

Other problem areas include the aforementioned scrum, where the inclusion of young Crusaders tighthead Owen Franks hardly bespeaks the selectors’ faith in either Neemia Tialata or John Afoa, and similarly at ruck and maul time, where only veteran Brad Thorn’s superhuman effort in Wellington kept the AB’s in the hunt – the lack of assistance he received was truly terrifying. Curiously, the lineout – our Achilles heel for a decde or more – seems to have improved in inverse proportion to other aspects of our forward play.

And then there’s the massive, gaping chasm that lies between the absent Dan Carter and his would-be replacements, Stephen Donald and Luke McAlister. Given that both of them are presently injured, leaving the possibility that Piri Weepu (our best halfback) or even featherweight rookie Stephen Brett may be tried at 10 in the opening match in Auckland against Australia, this is far and away the All Blacks’ biggest hurdle in 2009. If this hurdle is overcome, however, it could be very timely for RWC 2011 in terms of developing depth in this most crucial position.

So, it’s really anybody’s contest. My money would still be on the Boks – they have the most experienced side and are just too strong in many key areas. If the Boks don’t win this year, de Villiers is history (which may actually be some incentive for the team to lose…) On the other hand entirely, Robbie Deans is very astute, and Australian rugby sides are often just too smart – and this is perhaps shaping up to be the strongest, canniest Wallabies side since ’99. As for the All Blacks, they know only too well how unacceptable defeat is.

If the 2009 Tri-Nations were New Zealand’s Next Top Model 2009, the Boks would be talented, charming Christobelle, the Wallabies the crafty, hard-grafting Hosanna, and the All Blacks the slightly plain-Jane Laura. Just like NZNTM, this is shaping up to be a very interesting competition.

– Jeremy Taylor

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New Zealand's Next Top Model Finale Recap Thing

The moment of truth

The finale (read our scrappy liveblog here) was more of an elaborate coronation ceremony for Christobelle than any form of competition. It seemed pretty clear from very early on in the series that when it came to temperament, talent and The Look, Christobelle Grierson-Ryrie was what the judges wanted. She will now go down alongside NZ Idol winner Ben Lummis as our first champion in an odd local equivalent to an overseas reality tv phenom. Though it’s to be hoped she has a greater ceiling than the singer, who’s currently attempting a  second comeback with a single named Smooth Lady. Nice.

In another eerie parallel with our Idol debut, the people’s champ, and the most idenitifiably ‘New Zealand’ contestant came fourth. In an ideal world, Ruby would be introducing the first single from the third Luke Whaanga album on TV in 2010, but it seems entirely possible that she will fade from public view as swiftly as the beatboxin’ belter did – the word is now that the mooted presenter’s job on C4 is no longer likely. Which troubles me somewhat, as while the show was airing I was utterly convinced that her starpower was such that she would outshine the show. Now, with Christobelle being wheeled through various media outlets (or, occasionally, Laura being subbed in at the last minute, as happened to a bemused Charlotte Ryan on bFM this morning), Ruby’s future celebrity looks far less secure.

But the show itself has been a smash hit, and aside from Christobelle, the guaranteed stars of the piece are the three judges, who’ve all gone from relative obscurity to centre stage in a few short weeks. Which makes being able to publish these beautiful images all the more exciting. Because as, poised and stylish as they are now, it was hard road here, and all had to pass through the treacherous ’90s to get here, with none emerging unscathed… Continue reading

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COMING TONIGHT! Liveblogging the NZNTM Finale

New Zealand Next Top Model?

New Zealand Next Top Model?

By actual popular demand we’ll be liveblogging every minute of the finale of NZNTM tonight, with some contributors from Real Groove magazine, plus me and any deadballers who can make it. Will be using coveritlive, the same set up as isaaclikes use on their liveblogs of the series. Just so you know, we’re not attempting to bite their style, those guys do a great job from a fashion-centric standpoint; we’ll be treating it like the high drama sporting contest it is. So maybe keep both windows open.

The cool thing about coveritlive is the way viewers can interact via comments and polls as part of the flow of the commentary. So this will be a group effort guys. Post any suggestions/ideas/whatever flotsam or jetsam in the comments here, and come back from 7pm, we’ll try and do some real average pre-amble. It’ll be like Gameday before the league but sadly with less Steven McIvor. Reemember his work on that ‘find a cheerleader for the Warriors’ show? Lech. Regardless, it’s going to be a very, very good day.

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New Zealand's Next Top Model Power Rankings 8

Christobelle, Ruby and Laura look adoringly and respectfully at their friend and mentor, Hosanna

“She’s nuts. She’s insane. She’s crazy.” – Laura.

And now she’s in the final. You have to hand it to the girl. Hosanna’s had a sea of doubters from the start, and only weird teenage boys who’ve looked too hard at too many surfing magazines (if you know what I mean. And if you don’t, I mean masturbated over the Quicksilver and Rip Curl ads in surfing magazines. OK? That’s what I mean) think she’s remotely attractive. And she’s left our darling Ruby, the people’s champ, in her dust. For those who’ve forgotten/intentionally-deleted-such-information-from-their-memory, this is what the two ‘models’ look like side-by-side.

The beautiful and entirely sane HosannaRuby, a pretty girl, but not nearly so pretty as Hosanna

Thankfully the judges spared us the embarassment of having a minger like Ruby in the final, and instead we can feast our eyes on that magnificent example of the female of the species this Friday.

In all fairness, this week Hosanna was not the fourth-best model. That would be Laura, who for the second week running limped through the episode sulking and snarking, and was somehow spared the axe. You get the strong feeling that the twin imperatives of the show are in conflict here. Because she’s clearly at least the second best model on the show, but equally clearly not amongst the three best Top Models. So she gets to stay because the fashion end of this wants a usable champion, Hosanna stays because she pulled out some huge performances based on a brain which is programmed perfectly for this one thing alone. Ruby loses out, though as predicted she hardly cared. It will be a fantastic final, and infinitely better TV because The Hose™ will be there to make it so, but were it not for the certainty that we’ll see more of Ruby I’d be a lot sadder than I am. A-nyway.

1. (Last Week: 1) Christobelle

She had the worst photo of a very strong week of images. Atip, who I thought was just ridiculous last week, redeemed himself with the cyborg-warrior-princess feel in the ring, and Christobelle’s Mad Max post-apocalyptic outfit was the best of the bunch. Unfortunately, perhaps distracted by her looming Nivea feature (what an amazing prize! A no-pay shoot in a old lady magazine! Lucky!), she never got her head into the shoot, was limp and posed where the other girls leapt (sometimes too ferociously – I’m looking at you Hosanna/Laura) into the fight with real abandon. But there was a reason she won the Nivea challenge, and that was because she was the only remotely decent performer in that segment, which saw Ruby babble cutely but nonsensically when she should’ve just destroyed it. So she gets a pass, and a first ranking here, more through the other girl’s abdication than through any dominating performance of her own. She was as average as everyone else with Wendyl Nissen’s risible ‘media training’ segment, but I felt that was as much due to Nissen’s bizarre showboating as anything else. Maybe that journalist-as-starmaker attitude flew in the ’80s when there were like two magazines and a radio station in the whole country, but just check the scramble for models across any different platform you care to pick right now… The game’s changed, lady, and you’re teaching them the old rules. With Ruby’s departure Christobelle becomes both the new people’s champ and the overwhelming bookie’s fave for the title, and as the Hastings’ gem (see what I did there? RUBBISH) was the most similar to her strength-wise, she should romp home in the final.

Continue reading

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New Zealand's Next Top Model Power Rankings 6

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj_Lh3T2UBQ%5D

If ever an episode cried out to be spread thickly over two nights, so we could luxuriate in its gratuitous modelity it was our ‘ relocation to America. Every single second was outrageously good, so you’ve got to think we missed some incredible stuff in editing. But full credit to the sublime judge’s table machinations that put mortal enemies Teryl-Leigh and Hosanna in the bottom two, then sent home Teryl-Leigh – this was an act of outrageous cruelty in the service of great TV, and one for which we should all be forever grateful.

The episode was also notable for the frankness of the guests. They didn’t muck around in delivering their verdicts, with Alexis Borges of Next LA popping Ruby’s balloon, and allowing TL to drop another of her classics on us: “I’m really pleased with that, because obviously I can lose a couple of inches of weight. I can’t grow a couple of inches.” And while Hosanna may’ve got the last laugh (literally, see the instant NZ TV classic moment above), Barker and Borges assessments of her had a necessary brutality which provided a true reality check for the Hose, one she’s needed for weeks and never quite received in our friendly isles.

1. (Last Week: 3) Christobelle

As predicted in last week’s rankings, she turned it on for the US big dogs, but no one could have foreseen the force with which she took back the lead. She won all three challenges, the variety of which (styling/ TV ad/couture) should have proved impossible for any one competitor to take. This served to show her breadth at a critical time, and send a message to model-come-latelies Laura and Ruby that when she puts her mind to it, she can do anything. After indifferent work on the C4 audition a couple of weeks back few would have predicted her sunny confidence in the Cover Girl shoot, and the way she transfixed Barker (who’s seen some wannabes in his time) speaks volumes. There’s daylight between her and second place again, and with a month to go she’s picked the perfect time to make her run. Continue reading

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New Zealand's Next Top Model Power Rankings 5

Christobelle, Laura and Ruby are best friends.

I have a long and distinguished career as photographer, using my trusty Nokia to snap pictures off the TV, but the above image might be my all time favourite. You pretty much have the entire plotline of Friday’s episode right there: Christobelle, Laura and Ruby continued their dominance, and love each other (for now). Victoria just isn’t quite there, though desperately wants to be a part of any gang that’ll have her. Teryl-Leigh and Hosanna are nowhere to be seen.

Anyway, self-congratulatory photo analysis aside, it was a pretty fantastic episode, and one which finally saw my rankings hold something close to correct. Bottom placed Lucy bade farewell to the show, poignantly on the brink of their doing something proper fun. So her final memories of the show will be linked for time immemorial to the musty, overpriced corrugated iron walls of Savemart New Lynn and and a catwalk outside the offices of Universal Music (one of the sexiest locations in New Zealand), while the rest of the models jet off to LA and a date with Nigel Barker. Harsh time to get cut, but really, we couldn’t be taking her tearful ass to America as one of the half-dozen hottest gals we’ve got, could we? It’s bad enough Hosanna’s on that plane…

1. (Last Week: 2) Ruby

She won the week comfortably, and is just brimming with confidence right now, after once again letting her natural charisma outshine the pack. In the same way last week’s show felt a little rigged for Laura, this one came good for Rubes: a cute, smart and talented designer in Abby to work with and an expression, joy, which is hardly a stretch for her. The best moment of a dominant week? How she channelled joy: “I was actually thinking about the time my friend at school fell off her chair frontwards and smashed her head on a desk.” Two lessons in that, fellow models: 1. Schadenfreude comes naturally to Hastings’ finest, so don’t go expecting pity when you’re forced to, say, go braless down the runway. 2. Ruby might actually be psychotic. Which as Naomi Campbell (and Tyra, for that matter) has proven time and again, is by no means an impediment to success in the fashion kingdom. Continue reading

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New Zealand's Next Top Model Power Rankings 4

image144

It was a bad time to be a bobble-headed alien on NZNTM, as Rebecca-Rose defied the prayers of a nation to be sent home. She didn’t have the greatest week, but the way both the ‘experienced’ (took her less than 20 secs to bring that up) models got sent home in consecutive episodes seemed kinda suss to me. I seem to remember one of the Sunday papers outing RR and Ajoh as having already been signed and working in the industry, and it’s kinda convenient for the show to have those potential scandals averted.

That being said, her photo was awful, her jaw seemed detached from the rest of her face in a shoot which should have worked for her, so maybe she deserved to go. Plus she totally tanked in the Vodafone Select Live assignment, and then had the breathtaking lack of self awareness to tell us “I surprised myself today. I may have that x-factor”. So she gets some comedy points. Before we get to the rankings can I just say that the NZ Music Month stuff on the show was somewhat ridiculous. Hosting a TV show is not remotely a modeling assignment, and how Autozamm got that gig I will never know. Their whole career is a mystery, and that spot required star-power on a scale they simply don’t possess. Oh well. To the rankings!

1. (Last Week: 1) Laura

In many ways it was a turning point for Laura. No longer was she the underdog, and it showed. The way the judges got her tooth fixed was, frankly, bizarre. Lucy, TL and Ruby spoke up about it, and I think they had a point. It looked like favouritism, but worse, the crooked tooth was a core part of her charm. They airbrushed Cindy Crawford’s mole out in her early shoots, before it became what she was famous for. I feel like the tooth was Laura’s mole, and am correspondingly less enamoured of her as a result. She did have a strong week though, superb photo (though the tears afterward were entirely superfluous) and while she was sorta vacant in the TV spot she wasn’t as achingly awful as many of the other girls. She’s now in the driving seat, and the new tooth just put a big target on her back. How she responds will decide her fate. Continue reading

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