Thursday, 25 June 2009

I worry about Wayne.

He’s been an integral part of two failed World Cup campaigns and once famously committed sporting suicide by publicly questioning his own qualifications to coach the All Blacks. That foolhardy lapse of judgment cost us a joyless journey with John Mitchell.

Sure Wayne Smith was a good All Black and is reportedly a nice bloke. Sure he’s passionate about rugby to the point of obsession and a real student of the game, its history and heritage. He’s also a highly technical analyst, as can be witnessed by his preoccupation with his laptop during Saturday’s test at the Cake Tin.

But is Wayne, his laptop and his failed backline experiments (think Isaia Toeava) the yellow brick road to rugby utopia? The answer is self evident when you count the miserly two tries the All Blacks backs have scored in the past two tests.

Then there’s the sushi in the All Blacks changing room in Wellington. Don’t get me wrong. I love sushi. But where’s the fear factor?

Call me old fashioned, out of touch, politically-incorrect, whatever! But I want the All Blacks to be gladiatorial warriors striking fear into the heart of the opposition. What’s next? Hors-d’oeuvres and canapés? Or maybe we put on a Devonshire Tea for Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha after the Springbok test?

And just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water again and trust Graham Henry, he blows his credibility by blowing a kiss in the direction of his beloved Mils Muliaina. Then he caps it off with a headmasterly display of the highest order, not telling his pupils they needed to beat France by six points or more to retain the Dave Gallagher trophy.

His excuse that he did not want to put added pressure on his young All Blacks side (who just happened to have more test caps than the French) does not wash. For goodness sake, they are the All Blacks! They should eat pressure for breakfast before dining on raw meat for lunch!

We are just over two years out from the World Cup. Can anyone, hand on heart, say they reckon the three wise men can bring home the bacon? We are too dependent on two marquee players and as soon as Robbie Deans finds two props we might find ourselves chopped liver!

I hope I’m wrong. Bring back Jimmy!


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