Mon, Jul 28, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Kiwis turn on ‘stupid’ All Blacks

AFP , WELLINGTON

New Zealand rugby fans turned on the All Blacks after the team’s Tri-Nations loss to Australia, with pundits labeling them “stupid” yesterday and beleagured coach Graham Henry under renewed attack.

The knives were out for Henry as the coach once hailed as the “Great Redeemer” was outsmarted by Robbie Deans, the boss the New Zealand Rugby Union did not want and encouraged to move to Australia.

Saturday night’s long-awaited Test, the first pitching Henry against Deans since Henry’s reappointment despite last year’s World Cup flop, turned into a one-sided affair as the Wallabies romped to a 34-19 victory.

“It wasn’t just the margin, it was the fact that the off-field mastermind was a man we could have had for the asking that left you feeling sick by game’s end,” wrote columnist Phil Gifford in the Sunday Star-Times.

Deans is by far the most successful coach in the history of the Super rugby series and he has moulded the Wallabies along the same lines that he used to take the Canterbury Crusaders to five Super rugby titles.

Even All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen admitted after the Test there was an air of the Crusaders about the Wallabies, yet the All Blacks did not seem prepared for that.

Veteran broadcaster Murray Deaker, who fielded non-stop calls on his radio talkback program blaming Henry for the heavy defeat and bemoaning the loss of Deans to Australia, described the All Blacks game plan as “ill-conceived.”

The All Blacks were “more stupid than courageous” wrote Gregor Paul in the Herald yesterday.

“The All Blacks straddled that fine line between bravery and stupidity last night and ended up putting the emphasis too heavily on the latter,” he wrote. “As a consequence, New Zealanders really will wake up this morning and wonder if they let the wrong coach go at the end of last year.”

Under the headline “Backline try-hards fall short again,” columnist Duncan Johnstone, pointed out the inability of the All Blacks backs to finish off promising breaks.

“With a mountain of possession the All Blacks made 11 line breaks to the Wallabies’ eight, ran with the ball 121 times compared to Australia’s 73 and made almost twice as many meters [909 to 503],” Johnstone said.

“Yet they didn’t have much to show for it in the end as they were either smothered by some hugely effective and at times desperate defense from the home side,” he said.

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