Freelancers Like Us Are Going To Be OK During COVID-19

Last week, on Twitter, I posted that I’d block anyone who played the ‘feel sorry for me’ or ‘please donate to my Patreon because I’m now out of work’ game.

The bottom line is this: we are all in a s**t situation thanks to COVID-19, and freelancers like ourselves have taken a big hit financially. Now is the time to have a bit of perspective, as hard as it might be.

Personally, if I am to be self-indulgent for a moment, I am now all but redundant until further notice. I am not the only one.

It would be easy for me, like many others who have been in the same position recently, to go on an all-out content push in the hopes that it would fill the void of what I may have had before.

Perhaps I am even guilty of this at times, but IMO there is a lot of gross and shameless self-promotion on social media these days.

When I transitioned from social media journo to regular mainstream journo, I noticed how loud the Twitter-sphere really was. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it’s just loud, getting louder by the day in fact.

There are some who are really good at promoting themselves and have some genuinely good content worth following them for, but there are others who

So as the lockdown begins and we ponder the next month (at least) of being confined largely to our homes, what’s the best way to deal with this? There’s certainly been no shortage of guides, how-to blogs and inspiring stories of how people are making the most of the situation floating around the internet in the past couple of weeks.

The first way to make the best of self-isolation is to understand that you’ll likely go through different stages. You’ll tell yourself you’ve got a plan, but the key moving forward is to not overdo anything. That includes making content for the sake of making content because you feel like your platform can’t afford to take a break.

For some, it may also be a good opportunity to go back to some of the platforms we’ve let get dusty, or potentially some of us can put ourselves out there and create completely new ones.

Personally, my first plan was to get back into streaming on Twitch, record a ton of extra podcasts and even begin writing a book.

But in reality, I’ve really only done a couple of streams and podcasts, spending the rest of my time keeping a close eye on the news, watching Netflix and playing PlayStation.

It’s going to take time to adjust to our new lives, and you will likely stumble off the mark. I know that I certainly have.

Today, by way of this blog, is the first time I’ve managed to get some concentrated writing done, and I did it with no idea of what I was going to type on the blank word document other than the ideology of getting something published online.

That’s probably why the general direction of this piece is all over the shop.

PlayStation got in contact this morning, the new Predator: Hunting Grounds trial weekend is open for gaming media and fans alike from today, so I will have a go at that and write up a preview blog for the game on Monday after I’ve had some hands-on time.

Us rugby journos had a phone conference with the Chiefs CEO and media manager earlier and I am glad to report that there will be some opportunities to talk to players about their respective self-isolation experiences.

I also redesigned the blog, so if you are reading this, be sure to let me know how it looks!

Stay safe, don’t push yourself too hard. Keep what’s most important nestled in the forefront of your mind, you are (hopefully) healthy and safe, surely this is what really matters in the current climate.

Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs Squad Analysis

Like they have in seasons prior, the Chiefs will field a squad that features a mix of proven performers and unknown young talent ahead of the 2019 Investec Super Rugby campaign.

That unknown talent has a proven track record to defy all expectations in Chiefs country. Don’t believe this pundit? Look no further than last season. Several players with little pedigree went on to become top-level performers and influenced the games that the Chiefs managed to win.

In 2019, the Chiefs keep their members of the core leadership group (Retallick, Cane, McKenzie, Harris, etc). As expected, they welcome some exciting new talent also, such as rising Sevens star Etene Nanai-Seturo and All Blacks wider squad prop Reuben O’Niell.

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Japanese international Ataata Moekiola joins the ranks, and a surprise selection for experienced Super Rugby utility back Jack Debreczeni provides cover in several positions. Debreczeni will be known to New Zealand rugby fans after stints for Northland in the Mitre 10 Cup, and regular selections for the Melbourne Rebels in previous Super Rugby seasons.

Colin Cooper Needs Consistency from Chiefs in 2019

For head coach Colin Cooper, embarking on his new coaching role with the Chiefs wasn’t a daunting experience, but a relishing one. Cooper frequently spoke about being more comfortable at this later point in his coaching career compared to his previous Super Rugby role at the Hurricanes. Added to that, Cooper’s successful time coaching the Maori All Blacks saw the proud Taranaki man arrive in Chiefs country feeling at ease and with little to prove.

Cooper’s first year at the helm was a reasonably successful one all told, but a high number of injuries to key players along the way was an unwelcome reality for a squad that was already depleted of some big names from the year prior. The likes of Aaron Cruden, James Lowe, and Tawera Kerr-Barlow (just to name a few) were gone, leaving some serious pressure on younger players in the backline to fill that void. The likes of Sean Wainui and Soloman Aliamalo stood into their respective roles and stood out in particular.

Injuries to Sam Cane and Brodie Rettallick hampered the forward pack throughout 2018, but it saw players like Mitch Karpik, Michael Allardice, and in particular, big props Karl Tu’inukuafe and Angus Ta’avao really shine when their moment came. Through these brave and forced selections, Cooper showed a keen eye to spot a mixture talent on different ends of the age spectrum, but all of which, with little experience at Super Rugby level.

Individual Stories of Intrigue in Selections for 2019

When you look at this Chiefs squad for 2019 on paper, it reads a lot as you’d expect, with a few exceptions.

Some of the new selections were scouted early on, including new midfielder Bailyn Sullivan. During his time with the Mooloos, Sullivan was reported to have been entering conversations with Chiefs coaches from as early as the opening weeks of the Mitre 10 Cup campaign with the Mooloos.

But for some of the more experienced and well-known names in the squad, like Brad Weber, the 2019 season presents the opportunity for one last shot at higher honors.

When The Real Michael Pulman spoke with Weber recently, the 27-year old said he was still gunning for a spot in the All Blacks ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The one time All Black has consistently missed International selection in recent seasons despite performing on the park across both Super and Mitre 10 Cup rugby. In 2018, Weber was overlooked in favor of fellow Chiefs halfback Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, and Weber himself, whilst happy for Tahuriorangi’s success, was left frustrated when he didn’t receive any communication from All Black coaches with guidance as to where he needed to improve his game.

Likewise with players like Shaun Stevenson, proven at Super Rugby level but seen to be “not quite ready” for the black jersey. 2019 presents players like Weber and Stevenson, amongst many others, with an unlikely yet still very achievable bolt into Steve Hansen’s All Blacks ahead of the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Super Rugby 2019: Chiefs Squad Analysis

So where to in terms of Super Rugby honors for this franchise?

In 2018, the Chiefs managed to make the playoffs but rued several basic mistakes on a terrible night in Wellington where they would lose to the Hurricanes by just a single point, but in a match where the scoreline really humbled the visitors.

Really, the performance that night was a fitting example of Chiefs season that was never able to maintain any real consistency, and one that also failed to secure results in the matches that really mattered.

The Chiefs have always had the ability to win the title since their back-to-back run in 2012/13, but a mixture of injuries and a lack of continuity of winning results have hampered those efforts significantly. At times, one could argue that there have also been some off-field dramas that haven’t helped the cause.

Furthermore, the Chiefs seem to be a side more prone to mass injuries if recent examples are anything to go by. Those injuries have left everyone involved with this franchise frustrated in recent seasons, so for Cooper and his fellow assistant coaches, the goal will just be to get through the November/December/January period with little concern in this area.

The 2019 version of this Chiefs squad doesn’t scream title-winning favorites by any stretch, but it certainly provides the depth, proven experience, and world-class talent to be a serious contender once again.

The Full Chiefs Squad For 2019:

Props
Kane Hames (Tasman)
Aidan Ross (Bay of Plenty)
Reuben O’Neill (Taranaki)
Nepo Laulala (Counties Manukau)
Atu Moli (Waikato)
Sosefo Kautai (Waikato)
Angus Ta’avao (Taranaki)
Hookers
Nathan Harris (Bay of Plenty)
Liam Polwart (Bay of Plenty)
Samisoni Taukei’aho (Waikato)
Locks
Brodie Retallick (Hawke’s Bay)
Tyler Ardron (Bay of Plenty)
Laghlan McWhannell (Waikato)
Michael Allardice (Hawke’s Bay)
Fin Hoeata (Taranaki)
Loose forwards
Mitchell Brown (Taranaki)
Taleni Seu (Auckland)
Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty)
Mitchell Karpik (Bay of Plenty)
Lachlan Boshier (Taranaki)
Luke Jacobson (Waikato)
Pita Gus Sowakula (Taranaki)
Halfbacks
Brad Weber (Hawke’s Bay)
Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi (Taranaki)
Jonathan Taumateine (Counties Manukau)
First five-eighths
Damian McKenzie (Waikato)
Tiaan Falcon (Hawke’s Bay)
Jack Debreczeni (Northland)
Midfielders
Alex Nankivell (Tasman)
Anton Lienert-Brown (Waikato)
Tumua Manu (Auckland)
Bailyn Sullivan (Waikato)
Outside backs
Solomon Alaimalo (Tasman)
Sean Wainui (Taranaki)
Ataata Moeakiola (Japan)
Etene Nanai-Seturo (Counties Manukau)
Shaun Stevenson (North Harbour)
Marty McKenzie (Taranaki)

“Photo credit”

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Mitre 10 Cup: Waikato beat Counties Manakau as busy week begins

Waikato secured their first win of the season in convincing fashion after beating Counties Manakau 33-21 in Round 2 of Mitre 10 Cup action.

An atrocious amount of penalties saw Counties struggle to get into the game at all in the First Half. Waikato took full advantage, scoring three tries in the opening stanza to head into the sheds with a 21-point lead.

Waikato’s man of the moment Jordan Manihera found his way to the try line twice, continuing an impressive start to the season for the No.8. Manihera, who shone brightly in Waikato’s opening loss to Taranaki in Round One, has now scored five tries in just two games this season.

Counties tried valiantly to fight back into the game, scoring two late tries thanks to Augustine Pulu, and then his replacement at halfback, Jonathan Taumateine.

Stephen Donald also wasn’t to be outdone on his big return to FMG Stadium despite some injury concerns before the game. His try soured a lot of Waikato fans who had to sit and watch their former hero go over for the opposition side.

Ending five tries to three, Waikato secured the all important bonus point heading into a busy next seven days with games against Auckland and then Tasman.

Waikato 33

Tries: Jordan Manihera (2), Bailyn Sullivan, James Tucker, Samisoni Taukelaho.

Counties Manakau 21

Tries: Stephen Donald, Augustine Pulu, Jonathan Taumateine. 

 

‘Gutter Journalism’ by types like Reason disgrace sports media

Commercial realities have already soured the 2017 Lions Series as the New Zealand media hit ‘below the belt’ at every turn after just one match.

Headlines like “Warren Gatland searches for excuses” and “Lions a bunch of selfish pros” aren’t only factually incorrect; but they’re also well below the belt of what should be acceptable.

But in 2017; this type of ‘poor mans journalism’ by the media is acceptable – and it is only going to get worse over the next six weeks.

It is nothing short of gutter journalism – and you’d have to question if some of the writers are proud of the work that they’ve put out since the Lions 13-7 win over the Provincial Barbarians.

I need to pause for a moment and add a little disclaimer. I also work in the media – albeit at a much lower level. I write for a number of different online publications covering Rugby Union, and I only ‘broke into the industry’ a few years ago.

One of the things that really stinks about the New Zealand media’s handling of the Lions since their arrival on Wednesday has been the tone.

First, Lions coach Warren Gatland was accused of making excuses for the performance in the 13-7 win over the Provincial Barbarians. All Gatland said was that the Lions should’ve had a week in New Zealand prior to their first game. Isn’t that a fair statement?

Jet lag is a reality that the Lions management, but especially the players, have had to accept and knew about well in advance of last Wednesday. They didn’t use that as an excuse once – the media did.

Many media types will argue that columnists like Chris Rattue (NZME) and Mark Reason (Fairfax Media) are paid to write such elaborate content. Yes – that may well be true, and that should lead us all to a much greater discussion altogether.

These writers have pulled these tactics well before this Lions series – but it doesn’t make them any less accountable for what is, again, nothing short of gutter journalism.

LIVE: Crusaders vs Hurricanes

The Real Michael Pulman brings you live, play-by-play blog coverage of the highly anticipated Super Rugby clash between the Crusaders and Hurricanes from Christchurch.

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How 2016 changed Damian McKenzie

Super Rugby pre-season is now in session, and the Chiefs continues to be a great destination for blooding expressive young talent keen to get time on the field.

The Chiefs showed great signs of improvement during 2016’s Super Rugby campaign. It wasn’t as if Dave Rennie’s men were particularly bad the season prior, but some young talent really came into itself throughout 2016, and they helped the Chiefs to much success.

Despite having some rich experience in the form of seasoned veterans, the Chiefs have become the best club in New Zealand at developing young talent into International quality players.   Continue reading How 2016 changed Damian McKenzie

The Bugged Meeting Room

On Saturday morning it was reported that the All Blacks had discovered they’d been bugged. But the real story started well before then.

As it stands right now – the matter has been referred on to NSW Police.

It’s clear that this had been done well before the media ran the story, but the media likely knew of the situation well before Saturday when the story broke.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said that information wasn’t passed onto police until Steve Tew, NZ Rugby CEO, had arrived in Sydney.

Since then there has been a whole lot of speculation as to who planted the device, and what the motive behind it was. We may never know the answer to this. The most likely scenario was that the device was planted on behalf of a sports betting agency. Continue reading The Bugged Meeting Room

Steve Hansen faces difficult selection for No.10 starter against Wallabies

When the All Blacks squad for the opening Bledisloe Cup test against Australia is announced on Thursday morning, all eyes will be on who starts at first five eighth.

Will it be the red hot Beauden Barrett, or the traditional work horse Aaron Cruden who gets the nod to start against the Wallabies?

No one can question that Barrett is in career-best form heading into Saturday’s match. Fresh off a Super Rugby title win two weeks ago, more than a handful of people say that this is the time for Barrett to be given the start in a blockbuster match. Continue reading Steve Hansen faces difficult selection for No.10 starter against Wallabies

Off field issues see Zac Guildford dropped again

Time could be up for troubled rugby player Zac Guildford.

Guilford’s career appears to be nearing an end after the troubled winger was surprisingly left out of Tasman’s Mitre 10 Cup side. The reason for Tasman’s decision is down to Guilford’s continued problems off the field, problems that haven’t stopped since returning from Sydney.

In the last year, Guilford has parted ways with two prominent rugby clubs due to his issues off the field. After leaving French club Clermont, Guildford parted ways with the NSW Waratahs prior to the end of this years Super Rugby season. Continue reading Off field issues see Zac Guildford dropped again

Michael Leitch Returns For Chiefs Semi Final Clash

Loose-forward Michael Leitch has been named on the bench for the Chiefs Super Rugby semi final against the Hurricanes this weekend.

Leitch’s selection marks an end to a much-awaited return to rugby after several months on the sidelines. Leitch hasn’t been seen since May when he dislocated his right thumb during the side’s home clash against the Rebels. His return will give the Chiefs significant experience of the bench at a crucial time of playoff rugby.  Continue reading Michael Leitch Returns For Chiefs Semi Final Clash