OPINION: Through brilliant investigative journalism, Stuff has uncovered “Naughty and Nice” letters Santa Claus has sent to sports stars in advance of Christmas. So who HAS been naughty and nice, read this list and check it twice.

DAVID HODGE, headmaster: Hi David, I got your letter, written on St Kentigern College letterhead. I’m not sure if you’ve seen my sleigh, but there’s not enough room for two props, two locks, three loose forwards, a hooker, No 10, centre (inside and outside), two wings and a fullback, who can also play first-five and kick goals from everywhere. And that’s let alone the gymnasium, weightlifting room, conditioning coach, attack coach, defence coach, attack and defence coach, video analyst, defence and attack coach, nutritionist, water carrier, and Lear Jet for away games. Whatever you want, you’re on the naughty list, so you won’t be getting a thing this year, even if you do return the Napier Boys’ High halfback to them. Looking at your school letterhead again – can I suggest you change the school motto to “if at first you don’t succeed, buy, buy and buy again”? Love Santa.  

St Kents principal David Hodge cheerfully anticipates the arrival of Santa.

DAVID WARNER, cricketer: Hi Davey, first up it’s no to a job, mate. Even if you are an expert at sledging as you claim, it’s not the same – I drive a SLEIGH, not a sledge. As for your list of presents – a megaphone, lollies, lip balm, a kitchen grater, hair gel, a pocket-sized piece of concrete, a belt sander and a subscription to a travel blog called How to Start Fights and Insult Strangers in Foreign Languages? I don’t think so. But you have had a tough year, so here’s a copy of The Etiquette Book: A Complete Guide to Modern Manners to slip into your pads on Christmas Eve. No need to thank me, it’s my job.

One of these Warners was on the naughty list – hint, it’s David in the middle.

SHAUN JOHNSON: Hi SJ, your change of address form has now been processed by North Pole admin. Can you still see Sky Tower from your new digs in Cronulla? I have to take care around it when flying into Auckland. Let’s hope Oz will deliver you day-after-day of stunning form, not like Auckland, where the fans let “yous” down. I can’t do your request sorry – the NRL premiership isn’t decided until late in the year, you should know that, so I can’t give the title to you now. And while I’m no proctologist, one glance at the dimensions of the Provan-Summons Trophy tells me there is no show of shoving it “right up” Stephen Kearney as you suggest, even John Hopoate would agree.

Shaun Johnson has provided North Pole HQ with a change of address form.

ANTHONY PEDEN, ANDREAS HERAF AND ANDY MARTIN: Top of the season, Triple As. I’ve lumped you all together since I have no forwarding address for any of you. While you’re all on the naughty list my job description contains a Santa Clause, under which I can give errant kids self improvement gifts. So Andreas and Andy, where do I send you each a copy of the Muir Report? There’s not much about you in there Andy, thanks to the confidential terms of your departure – come to think of it, why don’t you buy your own present, I’m told you can afford it – Football Ferns are from Venus, Andy’s from Mars is a pretty good read. For you Anthony, I’ve got a copy of Mike Heron’s latest release. It’s racy as, there’s drinking, plenty of sex scenes, and a wee bit of cycling squeezed in. I’m told you said it’s “unreliable and inaccurate”. Is it the cycling bit?

Former NZ Cycling sprint coach Anthony Peden, one-time Football Ferns coach Andreas Heraf and former New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin.

NEYMAR: You’ll probably fall over when you read this Mr da Silva Santos Júnior, but I’m showing you a red card this festive season, so for you there will be no diving board and pool under your tree, as requested. As an aside, I’m still a bit miffed by your antics last Christmas when I was putting presents under your tree and you went down like a shot, writhing around on the floor wailing in “pain” – I wasn’t even in the same room, and never touched you, so whatever.

There was no point Neymar diving into his stocking to see what Santa left him

SERENA WILLIAMS: Hi Serena, Merry Christmas. I had you on the naughty list but then your lawyer’s letter arrived, and five more from your fired-up husband. On legal advice I’ve shot you across to my nice list as you are a mother, so by your definition are incapable of being anything other than nice, even though you did call me a “liar” and a “cheat” for putting you on the naughty list in the first place. I did feel “You will never, ever, ever come down another chimney of of mine as long as you live” was a bit on the red nose of Rudolph. But yes, you can have the 147 new tennis racquets you need to replace the ones that somehow got broken in 2018. And of course I will put a pair of glasses under the tree for umpire Carlos Ramos.

Serena Williams was totally, utterly, wonderfully nice in 2018.

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS: Seasons greetings SBW, it’s SC. Talk about you giving me a hospital offload. Can’t you take the gifts to the poor kids in Syria yourself? I know it’s my job to deliver presents and all, but Syria is a war zone and flying over a war zone is dangerous, even for me. Rudolph is worried his bright red nose will stand out like a bright red nose, and wham!, we get smashed in the head by a ballistic missile shoulder charge. Please reconsider. Please. Come on. Mate.

Hannah Peters
All Black Sonny Bill Williams makes friends wherever he goes.

NAOMI OSAKA: Kon’nichiwa Naomi, just a note to let you know you’re on my nice list for donating money to Haiti, your funny interviews and being so graceful when you won the US Tennis Open title. Yes you did win it, had you forgotten? Really? Just like everyone else? I’m sure there’s a clip of you versus Serena Williams somewhere on the internet, there might even be a wee bit of tennis amid the amateur dramatics. Here’s what you said afterwards, so nice. “I’m always going to remember the Serena that I love. It doesn’t change anything for me. She was really nice to me, like, at the net and on the podium. I don’t really see what would change.”

US Open tennis champion Naomi Osaka was on the nice list.

TOM WALSH: Kia Ora Tomas, I can’t tell you how pleased I was you didn’t ask for more new shot puts this year! With your ones, Dame Val’s, and Eliza’s new poles needing hazard warning flags, trips down to New Zealand were getting tricky (and heavy). Prancer and Vixen were threatening strike action, and the elves didn’t have the strength to load the sleigh. Knowing how much you like your nutrition, you’ll see in your gifts I’ve signed you up to My Food Truck (it’s a delivery service like My Food Bag, just with shot putter-sized meals).  

Nice guy Tom Walsh competes in The Big Shot.

STEVEN ADAMS: Yo, ho, ho Steve. You don’t fool me with the tats and the scary mo, not with my beard. I know you’re nice, I’ve binned the letters NBA moaners Draymond Green and Vince “elbows” Carter sent me complaining you’re rough, tough and clumsy, as well as the pieces of broken teeth they put in the envelopes. I reckon you’re just like me, bringing help and happiness to kids with your basketball camps and charity golf tournaments. Here’s the thing Steve – one day I will retire, so what say you take over? You’re the right size, you know your way around the world, you get on with kids and you’re great at dunking stuff through chimney-sized holes. Whoever would complain about a Polynesian Santa?

NBA star Steven Adams was nice enough to visit Palmerston North to officially open the “Steven Adams Basketball Court”.

This content was originally published here.