A cheeky peek at the year ahead

As 2013 looms in front of us, Steve Hepburn looks into the crystal ball and predicts who is going to grab the glory.

• The All Blacks will beat France in the opening test at Eden Park but will then lose in Christchurch, where the temperature will be so cold even Bob Parker's glasses will be frozen over. The All Blacks will then go to New Plymouth for the decider and wipe the floor with the Frogs. In the superbly named Rugby Championship, the men in black will win all their home games but lose in South Africa. They will still take the title. Argentina will beat a tired Wallabies team at home for the Pumas' first win in the competition.

New All Blacks will be Charles Piutau, Matt Todd, Brad Shields and Ben Afeaki. Ali Williams will somehow remain in the black jersey despite not winning a lineout all season, and hitting one ruck in May. Liam Messam will fade along with Tawera Kerr-Barlow and Ben Franks. Zac Guildford will not run naked on a Pacific Island.

The All Blacks will tour the United Kingdom and with a squad of 32 will win every game except the last one. But, thank god, it will not be to England.

The British and Irish Lions will beat the Wallabies 2-1, after losing the first test. The team will be dominated by Englishmen but the UK press will still moan that Mike Tindall has not been selected. Quade Cooper will play but have an absolute shocker. James O'Connor will finally get on the field and have a stand-out series. But he will have a clanger in the deciding test when his hair gets in the way of a high ball.

Richie McCaw will come back from his sabbatical and will immediately re-assume the test captaincy. On his break, he will climb Mt Everest, swim the English channel, solve the Israel-Palestine stand-off, and wine and dine three Victoria's Secret models. And because he is a Kiwi bloke, dump them and get back on the rugby field.

The Highlanders will make the top six and will set up a final against the Crusaders in Christchurch. On a wet night in the garden city, the home team will win thanks to a poor refereeing decision by Chris Pollock, who is just fresh off The Hobbit set.

Andrew Hore, Tamati Ellison, Josh Bekhuis and John Hardie will have stand-out seasons. Colin Slade will play the bulk of the season but will be hit by a large sea lion tossed into the St Clair salt water pool by a freak wave. Slade will be badly concussed but break no bones.

The Chiefs will be badly hit by injury and finish mid-table, the Hurricanes will start well but fade, and the Blues will start poorly and then fade further.

Otago will improve but fall again at the final hurdle in the championship. It will challenge for the Ranfurly Shield but, like the previous 55 years, it will end the season without the prized trophy.

In the NRL, the Sonny Bill Williams sideshow will continue. He will miss a large part of the season because of injury and the Roosters will just squeak into the playoffs. SBW will refuse to play for the Kiwis and have three boxing bouts, winning them all, against opponents with an average age of 52. Through it all he will stay ''humble''.

William and Kate will not name their new baby Sonny Bill.

The Warriors will just miss the playoffs and Shaun Johnson will have a standout year. Kevin Locke and Dane Neilson will also play well. Manly will win the title.

The Southern Steel will surprise and have more wins than losses. The Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic will be the sole New Zealand side in the playoffs but lose in the semifinals, when Irene van Dyk is done for using drugs to disguise those grey hairs. Melbourne will win the title.

The Silver Ferns and Australian Diamonds will split their 16-match series, eight apiece.

The Breakers will lose to Perth in the finals as the Australians gain revenge. At home, the Otago Nuggets will make the playoffs for the first time since 1997. Antoine Tisby will be the top rebounder in the league but the Saints will be the champions. The Nuggets will go out in the semifinals.

Manchester United will win the Premiership with ease, Everton will win the FA Cup and Barcelona will win the Champions League. Jose Mourinho will resign and flirt with 10 clubs before returning to Real Madrid.

The New England Patriots (American football), the Miami Heat (basketball) and the New York Yankees (baseball) will win titles in American sport. The ice hockey season will be cancelled.

New Zealand rowers will continue to win big, a Chinese 13-year-old with shoulders bigger than Texas will storm the world swimming championships, and Usain Bolt will lose a couple of races.

And, in an utterly surprising turn of events, the America's Cup will end up being decided in a court room. That is one prediction which will surely be right.


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