OLLIE GETS OFF TO A FLYER
After polishing off mum Simone's special apricot chicken at his Curl Curl home on Sunday night, Ollie Davies woke early the next morning and drove himself to North Sydney Oval for the biggest day of his cricket career.
It wasn't that long ago the 20-year-old was taking selfies with international players - now here he was sharing a dressing-room with NSW and Australian greats Steve Smith, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon ahead of his state debut in the Marsh One-Day Cup. So do you reckon he was nervous or overawed?
Not for a minute, even when NSW lost a few quick wickets and he found himself half sprinting to the middle to join Smith against a Victorian side featuring Australian speedster James Pattinson. What unfolded over the next hour or so was just further proof this young man is something special. With mum, dad, brother, sister, grandmother and a band of friends watching from the hill, Davies for a while managed to outshine Smith in making 57 from just 41 balls. He belted four fours and three sixes in an entertaining knock that impressed both Smith and Cummins.
"He didn't look nervous, he just looked excited," Smith said. "Considering it was his first game, I thought he played smart cricket and played some nice shots. He will take a lot of confidence out of that."
Cummins added: "I was so happy for Ollie. To go out and play like that on debut was incredible."
Ollie's young brother Joel is also a very handy cricketer and wasn't about to be kept out of the limelight. The Fox Sports cameras caught him easily collecting a six that sailed onto the North Sydney Oval hill. A big NSW win capped a day to remember for the cricket-mad family from the northern beaches.
SEAN'S SUPER START
Dee Why's Sean Maloney will make history on Friday night when he calls Stan's first game of Super Rugby. The big man will lend his voice to the Queensland v NSW clash at Suncorp Stadium alongside former All Black Andrew Mehrtens. The streaming service is rugby's new rights holder - in conjunction with Channel 9 - and will televise all levels, from club rugby through to interstate games and internationals. Maloney, who played rugby for both Manly and Warringah, describes Stan's rugby offering as "insanely good" and a real game-changer for the battling code.
Inside Back asked Maloney who he channels when calling games. "It's pretty eclectic to be honest. I pick up phrases from music clips or listening to commentators from other sports or even going through old YouTube videos," he revealed. "Just the other day I heard Darrell Eastlake calling Queenscliff's win in the final of Australian surfboat championships in 2001. It was pure gold."
PANI'S NOW HOPPING TO IT
After seeing sons Will, Jamil and Albert make it all the way to the NRL, John Hopoate reckons he might have another footy superstar coming through the ranks. But this time it's a daughter and her current sport is union, not league. Pani Hopoate (second from left) was one of four teenage debutants to turn out for the Manly Mermaids rugby 7s team in Newcastle last weekend - and she killed it. Mermaids club captain Sarah Mauger told us: "She's strong and runs into contact with no fear. She did unreal on the weekend, as did all the juniors. They were amazing for us."
John Hopoate said with a laugh: "I've got so many kids (11 at last count) that I tell them they better perform if I turn up to watch them play. She (Pani) is going well."
A tough and skilful front-rower, 16-year-old Pani has been selected in Australia's 7s program and has a number of NRLW teams chasing her services.
There's been a few eyebrows raised over the Manly Sea Eagles' decision to celebrate their 75th anniversary this year. It's been pointed out to this column that Manly didn't actually exist at the top level for three years after joining the Bears in the ill-fated Northern Eagles joint venture in the early 2000s.
So we decided to consult the NRL stars guru David Middleton for clarification. Middo told us: "Manly still operated at all levels beneath the NRL during the Northern Eagles years, so while it might not be the club's 75th year of participation in the senior premiership, I think it's fair for them to celebrate their 75th year as a club."
DID YOU KNOW
The Manly-Warringah Football Association XI stretched its unbeaten run against the Northern Suburbs Association to seven years after a 2-1 win last week. Aaron Peters (St Augustine's) and Luke Curnow (CC Strikers) grabbed goals either side of halftime to seal the win. The match pits the best senior men's player from each association against each other in a lively pre-season hit-out - and the MWFA is yet to taste defeat since its inception in 2015.
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