Editorial: Sour Hansen kicks an own goal

WARWICK RASMUSSEN DEPUTY EDITOR
Last updated 12:00 23/10/2012

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OPINION: There may be a couple of months left in 2012, but All Blacks coach Steve Hansen may have already taken out the "people in glasshouses shouldn't throw stones" award.

The man they call Shag fired a shot at Australian rugby administrators for "poaching" New Zealand players and not growing their own talent.

His comment came after the All Blacks drew 18-all with the Wallabies over the weekend, where former North Harbour player Mike Harris slotted five from five penalties ensuring the result.

That result wasn't meant to happen. The All Blacks were meant to romp home against a rudderless, injury-ravaged Australian side which had never looked likely all season.

But as they've shown in the past, the Aussies came to play when their backs were against the wall.

Neither side is ever happy with a draw, nor should they be, but Hansen went a step further with his claims.

He said: "What I find frustrating is that Australia is trying to build their game and put more franchises in place but all they are doing is putting franchises in place and stealing our players.

"They should get their own house in order and develop their own. There must be players there good enough."

Yes, he was asked the question, but for decades the New Zealand Rugby Union has done exactly what Hansen has accused the Aussies of doing.

Some of the best who have Samoan, Fijian or Tongan heritage have always been cherry-picked by New Zealand.

The decision is up to the players who they play for, of course, but New Zealand has never been shy of grabbing those talented players for their own purposes rather than relying on "homegrown" talent.

In recent times we've had Sitiveni Sivivatu, Joe Rokocoko and Sosene Anesi, to name a few. Go back a few years and players like Va'aiga Tuigamala and Joeli Vidiri were also chosen to wear black.

Hansen would have been annoyed at the draw with the Wallabies, especially considering it halted the All Blacks' winning streak (now an unbeaten streak), but his comments were an unnecessary sour note to end that phase of what has been a remarkable first year as head coach for him.

ONE MORE THING

It would have been a blustery old night for our resident "yarn bombers" who braved the rough weather on Sunday night.

The creative types targeted the C J Monro statue outside the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerston North giving him a hat, shorts, socks and even a pink rugby ball - as seen in today's Standard.

The "bombings" may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they do liven up such statues and even draw more attention to the original art work.

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- Manawatu Standard

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