What might 2022 hold in store for sport?

Sports editor Hayden Meikle is a glutton for punishment — but he has been here before. Time to look deep into the crystal ball to see what will definitely (almost certainly won’t) happen in the sporting world in 2022.

1. Covid means we can’t really predict anything with any certainty this year. There could be chaos in terms of cancellations, postponements, rejigged schedules, empty stadiums, and so on. Though you do get the sense elite sport is determined to go ahead the best it can, and we cross our fingers for a post-vaccination future.

2. The All Blacks will not win every test this year! I know, that is hardly a stretch — they have not had an unbeaten year since 2013, and it is incredibly difficult in the demanding modern era. I think they will sweep Ireland 3-0 in the June series, but it will be very close. They will lose a test against South Africa and lose to England at Twickenham.

3. New All Blacks this year will include Blues lock-flanker Tom Robinson and Crusaders prop Tamaiti Williams. And ... Roger. Tuivasa. Sheck.

4. The Blues will beat the Crusaders in the final of the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific competition. The Highlanders will comfortably make the top eight but narrowly lose in the quarterfinals.

5. Tasman will win the top NPC men’s division, and Otago (finally) the second. Waikato will go back-to-back in the top women’s division, and the Otago Spirit will immediately bounce back by winning the second. North Otago will return to the Meads Cup final and will joyously crush its neighbour.

6. The Black Caps will lose the ODI series in Australia 2-1, and lose the one-off T20. But they will beat South Africa 1-0 in the test series in New Zealand, beat Australia 2-1 in the T20 series in New Zealand, and sweep the Netherlands in the limited-overs series. They will beat England 1-0 in the three-test series in England, and again reach the final of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

7. Domestic cricket champions will be Canterbury (Plunket Shield), Northern (Ford Trophy), Wellington Firebirds (men’s Super Smash) and Wellington Blaze (Hallyburton Johnstone Shield and women’s Super Smash double).

8. The Silver Ferns will be beaten by Australia in the Quad Series final. The ANZ Premiership winner will be the Waikato-Bay of Plenty Magic. The Steel will finish fourth.

9. New Zealand will win ... throws dart ... 16 gold medals, 15 silver and 19 bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

10. New Zealand will win a record three medals at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. Lock in Nico Porteous for gold, Zoi Sadowski-Synnott for bronze and one completely unexpected medal.

11. The major American sports will be won by the Green Bay Packers (Super Bowl), the Chicago Bulls (NBA), the Colorado Avalanche (NHL) and the Tampa Bay Rays (Major League Baseball).

12. The big women’s world cups hosted by New Zealand will be won by Australia (cricket) and England (rugby).

13. The Kiwis will stun the Kangaroos in the final of the Rugby League World Cup. New South Wales will (sob) sweep Queensland in the State of Origin.

14. Novak Djokovic will win just one men’s tennis grand slam. Daniil Medvedev will win two and Alexander Zverev one. Women’s tennis slams will be won by Ash Barty, Barbora Krejcikova, Karolina Pliskova and — in one of the great moments in world sport — Serena Williams.

15. Collin Morikawa will win two men’s golf majors and end the year ranked a comfortable No1 in the world. Jon Rahm and Patrick Cantlay will win the other majors. Bryson DeChambeau and Brooks Koepka will sign up for a boxing match at Augusta. Women’s majors will be won by Lydia Ko (yes!), Nelly Korda (two), Inbee Park and Sei Young Kim. The US will (obviously) win the President’s Cup. And Tiger Woods will nearly complete yet another fairytale comeback by finishing second at a major.

16. Manchester City will do the double. Another Premier League title is all but in the bag, and the club will finally secure its first Champions League title with victory over PSG in the final.

17. The All Whites will qualify for the World Cup! And, just like Newcastle fans not remotely concerned about what their new owners get up to, New Zealand football supporters will not give two hoots about human rights issues in host nation Qatar.

18. France will become the first nation since Brazil in 1958-62 to win back-to-back World Cups. Brazil, Italy and the Netherlands will make the semifinals.

19. Max Verstappen will repeat as Formula 1 champion. George Russell, not Lewis Hamilton, will finish runner-up.

20. Lisa Carrington will win the supreme award at the Halbergs. Other category winners will be Kane Williamson (sportsman), the Black Caps (team), Sophie Pascoe (para), Allan Bunting and Cory Sweeney (coach) and Erika Fairweather (emerging talent).

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