Former long-serving Hurricanes manager Tony Bedford has reacted angrily to departing coach Mark Hammett's parting shots that the franchise was in a ''real mess'' when he took over four years ago.
Bedford, who was Hurricanes manager between 1996 and 2002 and operations manager up until 2010, was astounded at some of Hammett's assertions this week.
''I'm bloody disappointed,'' he said yesterday.
''After four years he comes out and says what he did about what he inherited. It just shows a complete lack of respect for your predecessors.''
Hammett spoke out this week before he departs to take up his new role as head coach at the Cardiff Blues.
''When I came here it was a real mess. I was disappointed actually when I came here to see the work that had been done. People ask me all the time; 'Did you have regrets around the first year and how it was handled?' I regret the state it was in,'' he said.
''There was a lack of leadership, there was some character flaws and there were some professional standards that were nowhere near [what they needed to be].''
Hammett's predecessor, Taranaki and New Zealand Maori coach Colin Cooper, declined to comment about the accusations but Bedford was not prepared to let them slide.
He pointed to Cooper's record in comparison to Hammett in his first four years in charge. During that period, Cooper made three semifinals and a final, while his overall winning record was 61 per cent. Hammett ended with 45 per cent.
''To be honest, I really feel for Coops [Cooper],'' Bedford said. ''Super Rugby is bloody hard and you devote your life to it and you have to give credit to those who give their lives to it.
''If it was as bad as he [Hammett] said, then why did it take him four years to come out with it? From a public point of view, in time they won't remember how bad or how good the culture was in the team, they will remember his best finish was seventh.''
A lot was also made about Hammett's decision to expel several senior players and the improvement in the culture at the Hurricanes during his tenure.
''When you talk about the culture of Andrew Hore, Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu, I'll be the first to admit they were not easy people to manage, but they were bloody good rugby players,'' Bedford said.
''Part of a coach's job is about managing people, not clone them. At the end of the day, when you are dealing with 30 people, there are always challenges, it's how you accept those challenges.''
However, he accepted Hammett had the right to make any call he liked over who he wanted in the squad and the culture he wanted to develop.
''But you have to manage culture with performance and it's a delicate act.''
As for the the succession planning under Cooper, Bedford pointed to the players who had been brought through the Hurricanes' system and the lack of recruitment Hammett actually had to make.
Through Hammett's tenure, Bedford believed he could really only point to All Blacks prop Ben Franks as being the the major success story from players he had to recruit.
The rest of the squad who featured week-in and week-out were from within the franchise's catchment area and had been identified under the former coaching staff.
- Taranaki Daily News
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