Saturday, February 4, 2023

Sydney Thunder: Who’s Who of Aussie sport on show for Thunder’s Celebrity Bash

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Former Cronulla Sharks grand final winning skipper, and Australian heavyweight boxing contender, Paul Gallen will join a host of Aussie sporting champions in this Sunday’s inaugural Thunder Celebrity Bash – a match that will be played before the highly anticipated Sydney Smash between Thunder and the Sixers.

Gallen, who is an ardent Thunder fan, will pit his cricket skills against an all-star list of achievers who’ll take centre stage at 4.45pm at Sydney Showground Stadium.

The inclusion of the former NSW Origin skipper added to Sydney Thunder’s WBBL star Sammy-Jo Johnson sense of amazement. Johnson never imagined she’d play in a cricket match which included a host of rugby league legends; a former unified world boxing champion; the NSW Premier; an Olympic medalist, netball superstars, and a male Test cricketer who, at his peak, was embraced by the SCG Hill crowds as the people’s champion.

Indeed, Johnson and her Thunder teammates Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia Wilson and Hannah Darlington are preparing to step into unchartered territory when they participate in the star-studded eight-overs-a-side match at Sydney Showground Stadium.

As the pre-cursor to the Sydney Smash – the BBL’s biggest rivalry – the Thor VIII and Storm VIII selectors have ensured each match-up in Thunder’s Celebrity Bash has meaning.

  • Former world boxing champion George ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos – who created history when he unified the sport’s title belts – faces off against Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist, Harry Garside, one of Australian boxing’s rising stars.
  • Canberra Raider’s legend Brad Clyde and Balmain Tigers great Paul Sironen will renew their on- field duel from the 1989 grand final – considered by most rugby league experts as the greatest title decider in the game’s history.
  • St George-Illawarra NRL forward Aaron Woods has been pitted in a ‘generational battle’ with Hazem El Masri, the Canterbury Bulldog’s goalkicking wizard, and hero to kids all over Sydney, from 20-years ago.
  • NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will feature in the Battle of the Boardrooms when he charges in from his long run-up against Lee Germon, the former New Zealand team’s former Test skipper and CEO of Cricket NSW.
  • In netball’s answer to the Sydney Smash, NSW Swifts inspirational skipper Maddy Proud faces off against former GWS sharp-shooter – and ex-Australia captain – Caitlin Bassett. 
  • Former Thunder and Sixers fast bowler, and much-loved Australia Test cricketer No.405 Doug Bollinger, has come out of retirement to take on Gallen who is looking forward to wearing the Thor battle colours.
Thor VIII                   Storm VIII                    
Harry GarsideGeorge Kambosos
Bradley Clyde            Paul Sironen
Paul GallenDoug Bollinger
Maddy Proud               Caitlin Bassett
 Lee Germon                 Dominic Perrottet                     
Hazem El Masri           Aaron Woods
Phoebe Litchfield         Tahlia Wilson
Hannah Darlington       Sammy Jo Johnson
Coach: Gurinder Sandhu  Coach: Jason Sangha 

THOR VIII
Harry Garside: One of the rising stars of Australian boxing, Garside won Australia’s first Olympic medal for boxing in over 30-years when he won bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. Garside is using his status as a champion boxer to encourage young people to embrace their individuality.
Bradley Clyde: At the height of his career Clyde was regarded as one of rugby league’s greatest locks. He’s one of only two players who’ve won the Clive Churchill Medal as the grand final’s best player. In recent times he’s shone in charity cricket matches between the Aussies and Kiwis.
Paul Gallen: A one-club player with the Sharks, Gallen created history when he ended Cronulla’s premiership drought by winning its first title in 2016. A player whose passion for Cronulla, NSW and Australia was matched by his toughness. Shocked Australian boxing when he defeated former world heavyweight champion Lucas Browne by TKO.
Maddy Proud: Has been a member of the NSW Swifts since 2017 and has captained the team since 2019. Acknowledged as one of the league’s most inspiring players, Proud represented Australia in 2022. Away from the court Maddy is a popular children’s author.
Lee Germon: Was made captain of the New Zealand team in his Test debut against India in 1995 based on his record as the most successful captain in his nation’s domestic competition. The CEO of CNSW also holds the unofficial record for the greatest number of runs scored off a single over -70!
Hazem El Masri: A rugby league international, El Masri retired with the record for the most points scored in the premiership’s history. Won the 2004 grand final with his beloved Canterbury Bulldogs, and in retirement he continues to inspire young people across Australia.
Phoebe Litchfield: From Orange in the NSW Central West, Litchfield made her Thunder debut aged 16 and she became the youngest player to score a WBBL half century in just her second match! Litchfield made her Australia T20 debut during the recent tour of India.
Hannah Darlington: Darlington was presented with the 2021 Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year award, acknowledgement of her outstanding form and growing status in cricket. An Australia ODI rep, she became the WBBL’s youngest ever captain in 2019 when handed the reins at 19.
 
STORM VIII
George Kambosos Jr: Held the WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight titles from 2021-22. His fighting name is ‘Ferocious’, and there’s no doubt he will live up to his Spartan ancestor’s war cry of ‘Never retreat, never surrender.’ Regarded as a true gentleman of boxing.
Paul Sironen: A devastating member of the Balmain Tigers rugby league team of the 1990s and early 2000s. ‘Siro’ starred for NSW in some of the bloodiest State of Origin matches between NSW and Queensland and terrorised England, France, New Zealand, and PNG in Test footy.
Doug Bollinger: Represented Australia across cricket’s three formats on 60 occasions and is remembered in the record books for taking 50 Test wickets in his 12 Tests.  Famously promised to give 150,000% for Australia when selected to make his Test debut – and he delivered.
Caitlin Bassett: Dual world netball world champion, 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, former Australia captain, and Super Netball premiership winner. Bassett represented Australia on 100 occasions and throughout her career lived up to her motto of ‘No goal too high.’
Dominic Perrottet MP: The 46th Premier of NSW and ardent Wests Tigers NRL supporter. He will be determined to show the same, deft skill he displays on the basketball court when he’s called upon by skipper Hannah Darlington to bowl and bat for the Storm VIII.
Aaron Woods: Stars for St George Illawarra’s NRL team, Woods is a former NSW Origin and Australia rep. Don’t underestimated his cricket skills, he dismissed the great Steve Waugh in a Battle of the Smashers charity match in 2010 when Waugh was on 92 and motoring towards a century.
Tahlia Wilson: Sydney Thunder’s star wicketkeeper-batter who scored a breakthrough century for NSW Breakers earlier this season. A proud product of Albion Park, Wilson is known to pack hockey sticks in her kit bag because, coming from a hockey family, they’re a piece of ‘home.’
Sammy Jo Johnson: A three-times WBBL championship winner with Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat (twice), Johnson is regarded as one of the sport’s most wholehearted competitors. Besides having 94 WBBL wickets, Johnson has starred in England’s high profile ‘The Hundred.’
Thunder play Perth Scorchers at 9.15pm (AEDT) at Optus Stadium, Perth on Wednesday, 4 January. The match will be broadcast live by Seven Cricket, Fox Cricket and Kayo.

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