Australian TV presenter Tara Rushton chats about her time in Singapore, her beloved Arsenal in the FA Cup final and the upcoming FIFA World Cup with FourFourTwo's Zee Ko...
Hi Tara, it's been quite a whirlwind few months since you left Singapore and returned to Australian shores. What's it been like?
It has indeed! What a wild ride! I was offered my dream job covering primarily football at Fox Sports Australia in August of last year – there was a fast turn around for me to get back to Australian shores, within a week I said goodbye to Singapore, my home for 3 years, and moved back to Sydney.
Australia has been great! We just wrapped the 9th A-League season, the Socceroo’s are in camp ahead of the World Cup, One of our A-League teams the Western Sydney Wanderers have progressed to the quarter finals in the Asian-Champions League and football is the word on everyone’s lips in Oz.
Really exciting times ahead. I get to watch my favourite sport – report on it, go out to games to report pitch side interviewing coaches and players and I work with a talented and passionate team of people on a daily basis.
Local audiences last saw you on 'Tiger Goals on Sunday', covering the English Premier League. Fond memories of your time in here in Singapore?
Singapore will always evoke fond memories for me. I have to be honest; I suffered huge Singapore withdrawals when I first returned to Australia. I absolutely loved covering the Premier League, and meeting passionate football supporters.
My Sunday morning pit crew: Dom Lau and PJ Roberts were the dream team. It was hard not to crack a smile on a Sunday morning regardless of the early hours. Singapore was great to me… I would never rule out a return.
What do you think of the recently concluded EPL season? Were Man City worthy winners, or did Liverpool deserve to win bar those crucial final slip-ups?
I felt for Liverpool & their fans. It was their Premiership title for the taking… and they were right on the verge of nabbing it for the first time in 24 years! How could you not feel robbed?
I think their ‘slip ups’ (literally - Stevie G), will play on their minds, and they would definitely think they gave the title away. However, finishing second, which is a leap of 5 spots since last season – and Champions League qualification, is a feat to be applauded… Brendan Rogers did a phenomenal job.
Man City were able to capitalize on the mistakes that Liverpool made at the crucial stage of the season, and with the experience of winning the title previously alongside the best collection of players in the Premier League, we can’t really be surprised that Man City were the team to sneak in and take the title. Watching City play their final game against West Ham really spoke volumes to me of where they are… they were calm, they played their own game and remained focused on the job that needed to be done no slip-ups, no panic and it paid off.
You're a well-known Arsenal fan. How did that come about and what does it mean to be a long-suffering Gooner?
I moved to London 12 years ago, to take my gap year, before beginning University and lived in Islington North-London. My British mates would get me along to the pub to watch their team - Arsenal play. I was instantly drawn to their style of play and couldn’t help but to be mesmerized by their stellar form on the pitch especially watching Thierry Henry & Patrick Vieira in the early 2000’s.
Arsenal was unlucky this season to be hit with injuries – Walcott, Ramsey and Wilshire that instantaneously saw them dip in form. No silverware since 2005 is a frustration – things need to change to give Arsenal a chance. New players… not releasing star players and new tactics.
Is the current Arsenal team lacking just that bit of quality somewhere in the squad? Or do they just need that tiny bit of champion's luck to take next season's competition by storm?
It’s not about luck at all… if you look at the squad depth of Manchester City for example you can see why and how they won the Premier League title this year… but looking at the depth of Arsenal’s squad says it all. If we want to win a title we need the squad to be bolstered in key areas. Giroud is not consistent in front of goal and relied on too much - and with Walcott injured the absence of a striker is obvious. Dear Karim Benzema, we would LOVE to have you! To strengthen defense, Arsenal need a holding midfielder and with Bacary Sagna on the move, a right back is essential.
Speaking of which, who's your favourite player?
It’s a toss up between Bergkamp and Henry
Moving on to the FA Cup this weekend. Can the Gunners lift their first trophy in nine years or is there a fear that Hull will do a Birmingham?
Of course they can, the Gunners have won 10 FA cup finals and they face a team competing in it for the first time. History of results favours Arsenal and I can’t see them losing this to Hull. A record-equaling 11th FA Cup trophy would definitely give Arsenal a boost in confidence and end their silverware drought.
A little bird tells me you won't be in Brazil this June? What was it like when you were down there for the draw earlier this year though? And what will you be doing next month in Sydney?
The World Cup in Brazil is going to be the best party the world has ever seen. The draw was fantastic, and didn’t even scratch the surface for the fanfare and excitement that will exist in Brazil next month.
I’ll be based in Sydney in the news studios covering all of the games live alongside Socceroos legend Robbie Slater and throwing live to the correspondents on the ground in Brazil.
You'll be cheering on the Socceroos then? What do you make of their chances in what looks like a 'Group of Death'?
It’s a tough group but I don’t think you can expect easy groups when the best football teams in the world are competing.
It will be tough for the Socceroos, as our national coach Ange Postecoglou has formed a provisional squad of 30 that looks towards Australia’s next generation of players.
There has been a renovation of sorts to the team – one that was much needed. Our squad currently includes uncapped players and youth – and with this brings an air of optimism and regeneration and revival of the Australian national team.
Which team are you tipping to make it all the way to the end?
I think Brazil will be tough to beat especially on their home soil, alongside Argentina, with arguably the strongest attack in the world, and reigning world and European champions Spain.
And finally, what do you miss most about Singapore, and will you be coming back for a visit soon?
I miss the balmy weather, the food, conversations with 'uncles' in cabs en route to work in the morning, having South-East Asia on my doorstep to travel and explore and the dear friends I made during my time there. YES! I will be back again soon… it’s my second home lah!
Tara Rushton can currently be seen on Australian TV screens as part of Foxsports Australia's football team.