Hard to see what Steven Luatua and Pat Lam owe NZ rugby and Steve Hansen video

Fringe All Blacks flanker Steven Luatua heads to the UK at the end of the Super Rugby season to continue his rugby career.
GRANT MATTHEW/Fairfax NZ

Fringe All Blacks flanker Steven Luatua heads to the UK at the end of the Super Rugby season to continue his rugby career.

OPINION: In a previous generation, Steven Luatua might have been answering to "Pike" by now.

Older readers will remember the TV show Dad's Army and how few episodes went by without Captain Mainwaring referring to young Pike as "you stupid boy."

That's been the tone of reaction to news Luatua is bound for Bristol at the end of the Super Rugby season. Worse than that, the 25-year-old hasn't just been called dim, but disloyal too.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen doesn't sound amused by Steven Luatua's departure to Bristol or the part Pat Lam played in it.
GETTY IMAGES

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen doesn't sound amused by Steven Luatua's departure to Bristol or the part Pat Lam played in it.

"Some agents once they get an offer they'll come to the table and negotiate; others don't. Steven's crew didn't want to talk because they are fearful we are going to change these guys minds which is disappointing," All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen was reported as saying.

READ MORE:
ABs captain laments Luatua loss
NZ Rugby's expanding war chest
Israel Dagg stays in NZ
Ben Smith sidesteps French riches

 
Good luck to Bristol-bound Steven Luatua.
Phil Walter/ Getty Images

Good luck to Bristol-bound Steven Luatua.

Let's deal with the Luatua bit, before moving on to the treacherous bloke that lured the loose forward to Bristol.

Luatua has been an All Black for almost four years. In that time he's amassed just 15 caps and his international career is probably best remembered for being singled out by Hansen for not being fit enough.

Prop Charlie Faumuina was another called out by Hansen and after some to-ing and fro-ing, will join French club Toulouse once this year's commitments with the Blues come to an end.

Pat Lam's obligations to New Zealand rugby appear to be nil.
GETTY IMAGES

Pat Lam's obligations to New Zealand rugby appear to be nil.

None of us know what public shaming on that scale is like. Maybe Luatua should have given New Zealand Rugby (NZR) a better shot at retaining him. But maybe he harbours some resentment about his time as an All Black and didn't have to think twice when Bristol coach Pat Lam came calling.

Ad Feedback

Luatua appeared to have it all: size, skill, looks, intelligence. If ever a bloke was going to make a go of professional rugby in New Zealand - both from a playing and commercial point of view - then it was him.

Now Luatua's set to walk away and play for Lam, the man who's made as much of the blindside flanker's immense talents as anyone.

"He spoke briefly to the contracts team, and he's been tapped on the shoulder by Pat Lam which is disappointing too. If you're an ex-New Zealander you should be a bit mindful about players' careers," said Hansen of Luatua's decision and Lam's part in it.

Lam's rare among New Zealand rugby coaches in that he endured a sustained period of negative publicity. In his four years as head coach the Blues finished ninth, seventh, fourth and 12th in Super Rugby before his services were dispensed with.

Since then, under John Kirwan and now Tana Umaga - both beloved characters but unproven coaches - the Blues have been 10th, 10th, 14th and 11th.

When Lam left after the 2012 season, the consensus was that he had to. In hindsight, the franchise's failings ran deeper than the head coach.

Whatever the problems are at the Blues, they sure aren't Lam's concern. Nor are the fortunes of New Zealand rugby inc. The same goes for Luatua.

Like every person in every walk of life, he's entitled to make a living however and wherever he chooses. Two years in the All Blacks' wilderness - from October 2014 to November 2016 - wouldn't have done much for his bank balance, but the two-year deal with Bristol sure will.

Play his cards right and Luatua can look forward to a decade of decent pay days.

Maybe he's not so stupid after all.

 - Stuff

Comments

Ad Feedback