Picture this: All Black skipper Richie McCaw is knocked unconscious from a king-hit in the first minute of an international.
It's not hard to work out how loud the outcry would be from players, coaches and the public - and rightly so. Imagine if the culprit was Quade Cooper. No one would be able to guarantee his safety if he was to step back into New Zealand again.
Is it because the victim's a Welsh player and not one of our feted All Blacks which is behind the near silence which has greeted the appalling act of foul play from hooker Andrew Hore during Saturday's test against Wales?
With one swinging forearm, Hore has damaged the All Blacks "brand". Yes, there have been some Kiwis condemning the act but not the ones that matter in this case - the coaches.
Since Saturday, there has not been one word of disapproval of Hore's action against lock Bradley Davies from head coach Steve Hansen. Instead, it's been the usual coach-speak of waiting for the judiciary to decide. He says the All Blacks are no thugs and claims none of his players would intentionally injure an opponent. The best he could muster was: "If there is an incident and if you've done it, you've done it. You've got to take accountability, ownership and responsibility for it. But what are the mitigating circumstances around that?"
Mitigating circumstances? Are there any when a player is pole-axed from behind? Hansen went on to say he was resigned to the fact that Hore would be cited (as he has been) which is what happens "every time we come up here".
Sorry but isn't this the clearest case for a coach to come out and condemn the player for his actions?
It would have been a sign of true leadership if he had done that and said Hore wouldn't be selected for the following week whatever the outcome of the judiciary. Everyone who witnessed Hore's thuggish act should have expected that response at the very least. Also, it's a bit cute to say it happens every time the ABs tour the northern hemisphere. What does Hansen expect after the Hore incident and Adam Thomson's stomping on a Scottish player's head.
Even yesterday, assistant coach Ian Foster indicated they couldn't pre-empt the judiciary's decision. Asked if he agreed the Hore incident "didn't look great", Foster said their job was not to try onfield issues through the media. It's such an open and shut case, so why not? When did coaches start to sound like politicians?
Naturally, the Welsh are upset. Wales assistant coach Rob Howley condemned Hore's actions, saying "it was an absolute disgrace" and the incident had no place on a rugby field. Howley hoped Hore would get a lengthy ban to reflect the serious nature of the matter.
Let's hope Hore does get a lengthy ban when he faces the judiciary tomorrow as his actions should be roundly condemned and a strong message needs to be sent to other players.
Unfortunately, this unsavoury incident has not reflected well on All Blacks rugby, especially on its management.
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