Newshub's 2023 Year in Review: Fearless Predictions for 2024

  • 01/01/2024

What can we expect from the year ahead... but first, how did out sporting experts fare in 2023?

Alex Powell - Blackcaps mass exodus

Perhaps premature, but with retirement and professional opportunities overseas beckoning, the national team seems on the verge of a rebuild.

Reece Labuschagne - All Blacks lose in 2023 RWC quarter-final

The NZ men produced their best performance of the tournament to topple world No.1 Ireland to reach the semis and, ultimately, the final.

The All Blacks inflicted a quarter-final loss on Ireland at the World Cup.
The All Blacks inflicted a quarter-final loss on Ireland at the World Cup. Photo credit: Photosport

Stephen Foote - Sam Cane will be dropped from All Blacks

After a couple of indifferent years, Cane reported for duty in tip-top shape and maintained that form right up until his red card in the RWC final.

James Regan - England to wrestle back the Ashes from Australia

Wishful thinking from the expat Pom, with the five-match series ending a 2-2 tie and Australia retaining the trophy as holders.

Will Hewett - All Blacks to win 2023 Rugby World Cup

Give Will credit for being perhaps the only person in the Newshub newsroom to back them to go all the way - but they ultimately fell a point short.

Grant Chapman - Silver Ferns will retain their Netball World Cup crown

The NZ women lost star shooter Grace Nweke in poolplay and never recovered, struggling into the semis on a countback over South Africa, and losing to England and Jamaica to miss out on a medal for the first time.


Now for 2024...

Grant Chapman - Former coach Stephen Kearney returns to the Kiwis

Despite his struggles as an NRL head coach, the former Kiwis captain still has more international wins than any other NZ coach - one more than Frank Endacott - and is the only one to beat Australia three times in succession during the 2014 Four Nations and 2015 Anzac Test.

Serving an apprenticeship alongside NRL legend Wayne Bennett, he steered the Kiwis to the 2008 World Cup crown and the 2013 final, but stepped aside in 2016, when he landed the Warriors role.

Stephen Kearney directs Kiwis training.
Stephen Kearney directs Kiwis training. Photo credit: Photosport

If he had stayed, his team were well set up for a run at the 2017 World Cup, which ended in disaster with a quarter-final exit to Fiji. At 51, Kearney is young enough to coach his country for many years to come and may feel he left the job only half done.

With incumbent Michael Maguire moving on, NZ Rugby League is in the market for a Kiwi head coach with NRL experience and Kearney, currently helping Bennett out at the Dolphins, still fits the bill.

Only reluctant head coach Stacey Jones and rookie Benji Marshall qualify in a very small talent pool.


Alex Powell - Kiwis give up on the America's Cup

It's pretty hard to fathom, but it really feels like New Zealanders no longer care about the 'Auld Mug'. 

Team New Zealand's decision to defend the trophy at Barcelona over Auckland has robbed the country of the chance to do it correctly, after the 2021 challenge was largely scuppered by COVID restrictions. 

While fans have traditionally got behind challenges sailed overseas, seeing Team NZ take a defence overseas by choice has been a hammerblow that sailing will find hard to recover from in the near future. 

The America's Cup comes to Barcelona.
The America's Cup comes to Barcelona. Photo credit: Getty Images

A sport seemingly shifting towards money having more say than ability doesn't resonate with the Kiwi way of life, where hard work should triumph above all else.  

Even if Team NZ do defend their prize on Catalan waters, doing so away from the Waitematā Harbour could be one step too far for fairweather followers.  


Stephen Foote - Warriors win the NRL Premiership

The priceless experience of a deep finals run, shirking the mental block associated with the bright-lights football across the Tasman.

Another year of Webby.

The return of prodigal son RTS. The return of prodigal nephew CHT.

Warriors celebrate a try against Newcastle Knights.
Warriors celebrate a try against Newcastle Knights. Photo credit: Photosport

The underrated addition of Kurt Capewell, aka Kevin Campion 2.0.

No sign of tongues in cheeks around here - the phrase 'our year' has never been uttered with so much sincerity. 


Will Hewitt - Wellington Phoenix win a-league  

The Phoenix have been the surprise packets of the current A-League season, storming out of the gates to start the campaign.

Under the guidance of first-year coach Giancarlo Italiano, the 'Nix have gone from wooden-spoon contenders to a team to be reckoned with.

After the departure of senior players and coach Ufuk Talay, many questioned how they would go this season, but Italiano has them playing as a team and there is a great togetherness within the squad.

Wellington Phoenix celebrate a goal against Macarthur FC.
Wellington Phoenix celebrate a goal against Macarthur FC. Photo credit: Getty Images

This could be the year the Phoenix make history. With the new Auckland A-League team on the horizon, what a way to make a statement that they're the big dogs in New Zealand football by claiming their first Aussie title.


Harry Bartle - Crusaders finish last among NZ Super Rugby teams  

There are no two ways about it - the Crusaders are the greatest franchise in Super Rugby history.

That standing has been solidified by Scott 'Razor' Robertson's tenure, which included seven championships in as many years. An era of pure dominance, but as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.   

Robertson’s departure headlines an array of vital losses for the Crusaders, with All Blacks Richie Mo'unga, Leicester Fainga'anuku and Sam Whitelock among those to wave goodbye.  

This combined loss of 215 international caps in one fell swoop has left a void that will be challenging to fill, even with the acquisitions of veteran Ryan Crotty and Welsh international Leigh Halfpenny.  

Crusaders celebrate their Super Rugby Pacific success.
Crusaders celebrate their Super Rugby Pacific success. Photo credit: Getty Images

Incoming head coach Rob Penney also has some big coaching shoes to fill. Although he brings a wealth of experience, it’s only natural he takes some time to find his feet. 

The Crusaders will be back. They were champions long before Robertson danced his way to the pinnacle and you'd be a fool to doubt that winning culture they've so proudly built. 

However, if there is ever a time for Christchurch's greatest to find themselves at the back end of the table, this will be it.  


Tom Bartlett - Sam Cane retained as All Blacks captain

New coach Scott Robertson has a conundrum of sorts to solve, when he starts to piece together his first All Blacks squad in 2024.

Does he want a new captain? Does he want to stamp that kind of mark of his first selection?

The smart money's on Robertson making a change with old Crusaders skipper Scott Barrett among the candidates to take over, if Cane loses the job.

Sam Cane leads his team off the field against Ireland.
Sam Cane leads his team off the field against Ireland. Photo credit: Getty Images

I'm picking 'Razor' will stick with the man who led the All Blacks to this year's World Cup final.

Yes, Cane hasn't always enjoyed universal support as skipper and, yes, the public appetite may be to see someone else given the role, but there is enough forced change coming with some iconic All Blacks careers now at an end.

Cane stays for me, at least in the short term.


Grant Chapman - Eliza McCartney returns to the Olympic podium at Paris

When she won a surprise bronze medal at Rio 2016, the teenage pole vaulter seemed to have the world at her feet - an instant Kiwi heart-throb. Her performance was voted Favourite Sporting Moment at the Halberg Awards.

Over the ensuing seven years, the highlights have been few and far between, as persistent injury and illness have plagued her career. 

She placed second at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, the same year she cleared 4.94m at Jockgrim, Germany, but missed the 2021 Tokyo Olympics and Birmingham Commonwealth Games with ongoing Achilles tendon niggles.

Eliza McCartney in action at Brisbane.
Eliza McCartney in action at Brisbane. Photo credit: Photosport

She seemed over that this year, when she qualified for Paris at her first attempt, but could not clear a height at the world championships, as her body let her down again.

McCartney, 27, is back competing, opening her summer with a 4.73m clearance his month, and is still one of the best in the world, when healthy. 


Natasha Payne - Dame Noeline Taurua will leave the Silver Ferns, Yvette McCausland Durie will take over.

Dame Noeline's contract is up after the Nations Cup in January and despite still enjoying her time with the side, she will choose not to extend it.

With the next generation coming in, Taurua will see this as the right time will leave... and the question is who will take over?

Dame Noeline Taurua coaches the Silver Ferns - but not for long?
Dame Noeline Taurua coaches the Silver Ferns - but not for long? Photo credit: Getty Images

McCausland Durie has taken time away from Central Pulse, as she and her husband re-open St Stephen's College just out of Auckland, but if the Silver Ferns job was up for offer, she may take it.

She’s already close to Auckland, she could still help the school in the off-season and with many titles to her name, she may just say yes.


Newshub Sport wishes you a Merry Christmas... see you in the New Year!