Thursday, 17 September 2009

Dear Steve,

You won’t remember me, but we once played rugby against one another in 1977 in an age grade tournament. You were a handy centre for a very good Canterbury side that included four future All Blacks (Richard Loe, Albert Anderson, Jock Hobbs and Robbie Deans) as well as Joe Leota (a reserve for the Baby Blacks in 1986) and a very good fullback Vaughan Brown (famous for taking the tenth wicket when Richard Hadlee got the other nine against the Aussies in Brisbane in the 1985/86 test series).

But I digress. Our paths have not crossed since then so I thought, for old time’s sake, I’d take the opportunity to write you an open letter on behalf of the New Zealand rugby public.

Steve, they tell me you’re a good bloke to have a beer with but you must remember most of New Zealand doesn’t get that opportunity. We can only judge you by what we see, hear and read on television, radio and newspaper. And what we’re seeing doesn’t make good viewing.

American President Harry Truman had a famous plaque on his desk which simply stated “the buck stops here”. Steve, you need one of those! But instead, all we’re getting from you is mangled quotes from legendary Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi who said “they have not built any statues yet for critics and wannabes”.

Steve you’re missing the point. We critics and wannabes will be your eventual demise.

Admittedly, you raised a fair point when asked if you were under pressure to get the lineout right and you replied, “I had another job once as a policeman. That’s when you find out what pressure’s like”.

But even that paled in comparison to the Australian cricketing great Keith Miller whose wartime exploits were to give him a greater sense of perspective when he returned to the sports field. When asked many years later by Michael Parkinson about pressure in cricket, Miller responded with the famous quote; "pressure is a Messerschmitt up your arse, playing cricket is not".

Steve, we all make mistakes but the road to salvation, redemption and forgiveness can only be paved by remorse. Admit your mistakes. Take responsibility for your lineout shortcomings, then the critics and wannabes - all four million of us – might give a sucker an even break.

We all share a common goal and dream - World Cup glory in 2011. So stop blaming others. Accept help from the likes of Andy Haden, Robin Brooke and Ian Jones rather than from some Aussie Rules kicking and catching coach.

I know I’ve been giving you a bit of stick about your borrowed quotes and paraphrasing but, to your credit, you came up with the sporting quote of the year after the loss to France in Dunedin.

“Flush the dunny and move on” you gloriously said. Well it’s time you stopped the crap - or moved on.


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