Headless Chooks

Tēnā koe. I’m visiting NZ from my home in Sydney for the first time in several years this week and am writing to you from my hotel room in Christchurch. Over breakfast this morning and at the bar last night, I strained my ears to over-hear conversations about ‘Bring On Razor’, but all the talk was of the Commonwealth Games or, of all sports, golf - which I’m told is experiencing a renaissance here. No sign of roaming lynch squads, which could be a healthy sign for NZ rugby or, alternatively, that the public has given up.

I did note, however, that the front cover of the NZ Herald this morning is plastered with a full-page editorial calling for Foster to be flushed, although in more restrained terms than that: “A decent man who is out of his depth in a brutal business,” was the chosen phrase for the death sentence from the anonymous editorial bench. It was just not five defeats out of six matches, the Herald opines, but the manner of the defeats. “Foster’s men are too often cluttered and confused in the execution of their roles.” This seems to be a nice way of saying they are playing like headless chooks. Which raises the question of why it took them three years to work that out.

On the plane on the way across the Tasman, I caught up with the Argentina-Wallabies game and had a premonition of the Bledisloe Cup travelling in the other direction this year. The Wallabies played with real rhythm and intent, as did Los Pumas. There is certainly room for argument whether the likes of Hunter Paisami and Jordan Petaia are better players than their All Black opposites, but there is no doubt in my mind that they are better coached. And that is, and has always been, the problem.

It’s really not rocket science. New Zealand Rugby made a catastrophic error in appointing Foster. He may be a nice chap, but he is not an innovator and does not have the imagination to take the game forward. As countless others have pointed out, he’s like a hack chef who inherited a five-star restaurant and never changed the menu. NZR need to get the cheque book out now and pay Foster out. It seems they almost certainly will at this point… But that it was allowed to get this far is an indictment on the entire administration.

OK, I had better go and do some real work.

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