Time for a change
We don’t often get as much pleasure from New Zealand sporting successes as we did last weekend when the Kiwis beat the Kangaroos in the world cup rugby league final.
There is always a special satisfaction in tripping up the Aussies because they’re so cocky and such sore losers too – as their coach, Ricky Stuart, has been demonstrating.
But this win had even more appeal because the Kangaroos have half a dozen genuine superstars, and there was every likelihood that they would thrash us on Saturday night.
So to inflict a 34-20 hiding on them was something to savour.
We need to keep it in perspective though. Rugby league fans may claim that the win automatically makes us the world champions until the next world cup in 2013. But who’s going to believe we really are the champions if we’re getting walloped every time we face the Aussies over the next few years? And, anyway, what does world champion mean when there are only three countries (England is the third) that take the game seriously enough to compete for the title?
So let’s not get carried away. But also let’s not overlook what we’ve achieved – and how we achieved it. What Nathan Cayless and his mates managed was to topple a team of magnificent Aussie footballers. And they did so without the help of five or six of our most talented players.
It was a reminder that secondstringers may still be top-class. The line-up of the Kiwis team was also a reminder how much we depend these days on Maori and Pacific Island talent for our footie successes.
It’s good sense to acknowledge the wise support our coach, Stephen Kearney, has had from Wayne Bennett who has masterminded the Brisbane Broncos’ achievements for many years. But those two men depended on the magic and the muscle of an almost exclusively Maori and PI line-up.
And that brings me to a point that Ken Laban, a most perceptive sports commentator, has been making for years. He says there’s this great flood of brown talent on our footie fields, but only a trickle at management and administration level.
That means, unfortunately, that Pakeha thinking too often determines the priorities when the guiding hand should belong to Maori and Pacific officials.
Of course, that’s true throughout Kiwi society. But in sport it’s a particularly damaging limitation. And, as we’ve heard during recent election campaigns, it’s time for a change.