Monday, April 9, 2012

Rattue's SOS

Chris Rattue sends out an SOS call on behalf of the hapless Blues this morning; check this out:

Sir Graham Henry for the Blues. Now.
The World Cup-winning coach is needed in his old stamping ground to nurse a dishevelled side through to respectability or perhaps inspire a miracle recovery act in what is shaping as the Blues' most disgracefully disastrous season ever.
The Blues board must perform radical surgery on the fallen giant, starting with the immediate sacking of coach Pat Lam. They could leave Bryce Woodward in the assistant role, and tug on Henry's heart strings should he need any persuading. Henry, who won two Super titles with the Blues and assisted them to their last triumph way back in 2003, would come in as an interim head coach before a giant cleanout takes place at Eden Park before next season.
Among those who need to be shown the door are the ineffective chief executive Andy Dalton, but I'd also be shipping out a few old hands like Ali Williams. Even the wondrous Keven Mealamu looks burned out.
In defence of Dalton, he has accepted the mounting criticism in the right light, saying it shows people care and he acknowledged that his whole organisation must share responsibility. But Dalton's tenure has failed to put the franchise on the right track, as was required.

And Rattue doesn't exempt the NZRU from the Blues' woeful situation; read on:

The contracting system also deserves scrutiny, because Lam's contract - and with it Auckland's aspirations - is in the hands of the NZRU. And as became clear at the Chiefs - where Kremlin favourite Ian Foster was retained despite years of poor results - the top brass sometimes operate to their own, contrasting, agenda.
Lam has to go, and right now. This is unlikely to happen, this being rugger, old chap. But a new coaching set-up should be put in place before the match against the Sharks on Friday night. There's nothing wrong with blood letting either, when appropriate. And now is appropriate.
We've all had enough. The loss to the Melbourne Rebels was downright embarrassing, leaving this rotten, misfiring outfit with one win in six and at the foot of the Super 15 ladder. Apart from a stonking scrummaging display from Tony Woodcock, the rest was not within a bull's roar of what should be expected from a team out of this city.
The Rebels were a Super 15 joke until recently and play in a state where the citizens follow rugby with all the vigour most of us reserve for dog racing. Victorians live for Aussie rules and many would hardly know they had a professional rugby team in the city. In contrast, rugby is the No 1 sport in Auckland, featuring a past laced with glamour.

We often disagree with Chris Rattue and his often-caustic opinion pieces. But on this one, he's right on the mark. The Blues have been dreadful this season. The signing of Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu has only served to revitalise the Hurricanes, rather than the team the Wellingtonians signed for. We're starting to reckon that Mark Hammett needed last season before he could start to achieve with the 'Canes.

Sir Graham Henry could at the very least give some fresh zing to the Blues, who have looked simply dreadful this season; even if just on a consultancy basis. Then when he's worked his magic at Eden Park, Bluey McLennan needs some magic over at Mt Smart too....


pdm said...

`The signing of Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu has only served to revitalise the Hurricanes'.

AS expected - these are two of the most dysfunctional players in NZ rugby. They are not team men.

Keeping Stock said...

To be fair pdm, both Weepu and Nonu were pretty good team men in the All Blacks under Sir Ted last year. He seems to be able to bring out the best in people; a lifetime of managing young men, I guess.

Nookin said...

"Weepu and Nonu were pretty good team men in the All Blacks". Maybe. But to get to the AllBlacks, they have to achieve at Super level. These two seem to have decided that they are above Super level and have no further need to contribute.

We are 6 weeks in and Weepu is not yet fit -- again! Nonu was completely shaded by SBW last year but was saved when SBW's idiot manager went ahead with a boxing non-event. For some reason SBW went off the boil after that and Nonu crept back in.

I see Weepu went back to club rugby to get match fit this weekend. I get the feeling that he has an eye on the black jersey and the blue one is simply incidental. Why else would you be thinking of getting fit when the season is half shot?

Fortunately we have some high performing No. 9s at the moment. Ellis, Smith and a couple of others could replace Weepu with ease. Forget Nonu. Forget SBW. Time to look at the likes of Bateman, Ellison or Crotty -- players who can give Fruean half an overlap (all he needs)

Nonu and Weepu might like to have a cups of Kieran Read's ethics.
The Blues are, once again, a team of prima donnas (Woodcock aside)and Lam seems to have lost control.

Keeping Stock said...

Very little there to disagree with Nookin. In Ellis, Smith, Kerr-Barlow and Perenara we have promise aplenty at halfback, and I doubt that Cowan and Weepu will get a look-in this season; Hansen will already have his eyes on 2015. Your comments re midfield are right on too; Williams is off at the end of the year, and unless Nonu has a Tana-like reincarnation, his days at the top level are numbered. Bateman has impressed this year inside Smith, and Fruean improves each season.

Ever since Henry left, player power has been rife at the Blues. It's time that cycle was broken.

Keeping Stock said...

And speaking of Perenara, pdm must love the speed with which he clears the ball; reminds me of Mark "Bullet" Donaldson in his prime.

Nookin said...

I like Perenara. Aaron Smith is also a quick passer. I am not sure how long we will have Carter but Cruden is getting better by the game. Smith will not be there in 3 years so get the speed and power out wide with constructive intelligence inside (the three I mentioned.

Keeping Stock said...

Perhaps Bateman can move out one and be the Smith-like distributor. Conrad is one of the most under-rated of last year's RWC team, but I rate him as our most skilled centre since Bruce Robertson

Tinman said...

I don't read Rattue because he has nothing to say - although he does (or has in the past) say it fairly well.

Wanting to replace lam with the liar is an example, I doubt Jafaville can afford to wait eight years and then hope for a favorable referee to finally win something.

As for Nonu and Weepu in the All Blacks last year, they were the two worst players in the final, both choking when the pressure went on

Nookin said...

I agree about Smith. He is in his early 30s and I am not sure how much longer he has - despite the fact that our centres have a record of longevity. I have always preferred to have a general at 12 (eg Warwick Taylor) rather than a bulldozer (Nonu) but if we go that way we need power and gas outside to make the most of the half gaps. I am not sure whether Smith can move in one if he loses a yard or so in gas.

pdm said...

Bateman has always been under rated and is value at 12.

I haven't seen Perenara but am very impressed with Smith - he was the best 9 in New Zealand at the end of last year.

Back to the Blues - was Lam ever in control? It was a dumb move taking on people like Nonu and Weepu with a weak coach - I think I said that over at The Sports Geek when their move was announced. Talking of ex Hurricanes Gear does not seem to be showing much for the Highlanders or have I missed something.

jabba said...

the 15 they are able to put on the field are not good enough .. blaming my mate Ali is plain silly. He is trying very hard in a team without structure. The srum is going really well and it's not just because of Woodcock.
The throw ins are hopless, they can't catch and pass and this must come down to the coach as well as the individuals. Dalton must also go.
Re Ali, what 4 locks would you pick for the tests coming up?? I will note the nominated players and who picked them. I will come back at the end of the tests and rate your choices.

pdm said...


Sam Whitelock will be first pick and I haven't watched enough to rate the others but Ali was past his use by date last year and probably shouldn't have been at the RWC.