McLean: Hammett true to form does it his way

GLENN MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 11/04/2014
Mark Hammett
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
MOVING ON: Mark Hammett announcing he will leave the Hurricanes at the end of this season.

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OPINION: Outgoing Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett has never stuck to the conventional path. Not that of your stereotypical New Zealand coach, anyway.

Although news of his departure at the end of the Super Rugby season came as a surprise yesterday, maybe we shouldn't be that shocked that he decided to announce it seven games into his side's 2014 schedule.

Hammett is his own man. That has been abundantly clear through his turbulent tenure.

Despite widespread criticism, the former Crusaders and All Blacks hooker has steadfastly stuck to what he thought was best for his side.

Casting aside the likes of captain Andrew Hore and Ma'a Nonu, which also led to high-profile players Piri Weepu and Hosea Gear departing, might have been the absolute wrong call in the minds of many Hurricanes supporters, yet in some way it might prove to be one of the best things the franchise has done under his watch.

There is no doubt a number of players who are likely to guide the Hurricanes through the next five years were able to come out of the shadows of those dominant players and express themselves and play to their potential.

It also created a better team culture.

The flipside to such drastic action has been the fallout from fans and the lack of a playoff position.

At the end of the day, you can do the absolute best for your team but still fail in professional sport because your results simply don't stack up. Unless Hammett can guide the Hurricanes to a reasonable position on the table in 2014, then his four years at the helm will still be viewed as a failure.

At yesterday's press conference Hammett stressed the time was right to drop his "bombshell" because it was "critical I set up my successors to succeed, as well."

What Hammett has done by announcing his departure, months earlier than he needed to, was put the rugby world on notice that there is an opportunity for someone to step in and take control of some of the world's best players.

Conversely, one could argue just as strongly that Hammett has created a distraction that his side could do without, as the focus switches to his likely successor.

Given the timeframe between Super Rugby seasons, one could also argue it was not necessary for Hammett to make the news public.

After all, the franchise has done a good enough job keeping it quiet up until now, several months after Hammett had told those in charge that 2014 would be his last.

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Whoever gets the job, the new coach faces a tough task attracting fans back to the Cake Tin.

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