Eric Rush: Say No To Ben Ryan

Fiji Sun - - Sport - Feed­back: leonec@fi­jisun.com.fj

New Zealand sevens coach great, Eric Rush, who is un­de­cided about whether he will have a crack at re­plac­ing Gor­don Ti­et­jens, be­lieves the play­ers weren’t fit enough at the Rio Olympics. Ti­et­jens, who stepped down from the NZ sevens coach­ing job after 22 years, was un­able to add an Olympic medal to his many achieve­ments with the na­tional side. Rush ques­tioned whether player power pre­vented the New Zealand team be­ing at their fittest at the Rio Olympics, and he isn’t keen on the idea of gold medal-win­ning Fiji coach Ben Ryan re­plac­ing the out­go­ing Gor­don Ti­et­jens. For­mer NZ sevens great Rush and Ryan have been men­tioned as po­ten­tial suc­ces­sors to Ti­et­jens, who, this week stepped down as NZ coach after 22 years. Although he also played 20 games for the All Blacks, Rush, who un­der the guid­ance of Ti­et­jens won Com­mon­wealth Games gold medals in 1998 and 2002, carved out a rep­u­ta­tion as one NZ’s tough­est com­peti­tors in the ab­bre­vi­ated game. Now a num­ber of can­di­dates, in­clud­ing NZ women’s sevens coach Sean Ho­ran, Rush and Ryan, have been touted as pos­si­ble con­tenders to re­place Ti­et­jens fol­low­ing his de­ci­sion to re­tire after the side didn’t medal in Rio. Rush is un­cer­tain whether he will have a crack at the role, be­cause has com­mit­ments with his su­per­mar­ket in Kaikohe.

“I would love to do it, that team has been a big part of my life,” Rush said. “But I am in a dif­fer­ent chap­ter of my life at the mo­ment. It’s go­ing re­ally well and I don’t want to up­set that part of it.”

RYAN NOWHERE NEAR TI­ET­JENS Rush doesn’t be­lieve NZ Rugby should chase English­man Ryan, who is now a free agent. Ryan was in­volved with the Eng­land sevens team between 2007- 2013, but never came close to match­ing Ti­et­jens’ suc­cesses- some­thing Rush be­lieves shouldn’t be over­looked. “No, I wouldn’t (want Ryan to coach NZ)- we have got enough good coaches in this coun­try,” Rush em­pha­sised. “Don’t get me wrong, he did a great job with Fiji. “Hav­ing the play­ers is 80 per cent of the job for the coach. That last 20 per cent is pretty cru­cial, and he did that re­ally well with Fiji and I take my hat off to him. He re­ally nailed it for them, but … Ev­ery­one is just talk­ing about the Fiji part, they have to re­mem­ber he was the English coach for a while there too.” New Zealand failed to ad­vance past the quar­ter­fi­nals in Rio, a loss to Fiji putting an end to Ti­et­jens’ hopes of adding an Olympic gong to the many suc­cesses he had with the side on the world cir­cuit and at the Com­mon­wealth Games on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions.

A rash of in­juries didn’t help NZ’s cause, but Rush is adamant they still had the per­son­nel to suc­ceed in Rio and be­lieves the play­ers may have had too much say when it came to Ti­et­jens’ bru­tal train­ing ses­sions.

RESTRIC­TIONS “I think they put too many restric­tions on “Titch”,” Rush said. “I know it is all about player man­age­ment and man­ag­ing player work­loads nowa­days, and there is a lot of science around it but the sevens is a dif­fer­ent ket­tle of fish. “The aer­o­bic re­quire­ments are way dif­fer­ent. It’s the Arthur Ly­di­ard ap­proach. You have to put the Ks in the legs. That’s where we fell over. We def­i­nitely had the play­ers, that team was good enough to win that. To me, the play­ers just weren’t in the right con­di­tion - that is just my opin­ion. “From what I saw, there were guys bent over and it wasn’t even half­time.

It tells me there was a cer­tain lack of con­di­tion­ing. And I never, ever thought I would say that about Gor­don Ti­et­jens’ teams.

“I know from be­ing close to it, that he couldn’t train them like he trained us.

Which is good for them (the play­ers), but if the player gets the de­ci­sion he is go­ing to take the easy road.” Ti­et­jens’ train­ings were so rugged that one of the drills was nick­named “Death”. Rush said he, and his team-mates, thrived be­cause they knew they were su­perbly con­di­tioned. It was “hu­man na­ture”, he added, for play­ers to want to ease-up on train­ings when they were feel­ing ex­hausted. How­ever, he said it was im­por­tant for them to be at peak fit­ness in such a fast game. “We hated his train­ings, we hated them with a vengeance,” Rush said. “But we would have still lay down in traf­fic for him, too. When you got the re­sults, noth­ing builds cul­ture like win­ning If I thought he was go­ing too crazy, I would go and have a word to him and he would lis­ten to me. The man has won how many gold medals and world se­ries? You don’t go and try to change him. Not if you want to win.” -NZ Her­ald

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