Home coaches still the best

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

They say top sport is now so in­ter­na­tional that the coach’s na­tion­al­ity is ir­rel­e­vant. But is it? In the past cou­ple of weeks, South African Mickey Arthur has been sacked as Aus­tralian cricket coach on the eve of the Ashes se­ries, and New Zealan­der Rob­bie Deans’ in­glo­ri­ous run as Wal­la­bies rugby coach has con­tin­ued with a se­ries de­feat by the Lions.

Arthur looked as­sured coach­ing South Africa from 2005 till 2010, but was a bad fit run­ning the Aus­tralian side. He had lit­tle idea how to main­tain dis­ci­pline or gain the play­ers’ re­spect.

Deans was a bril­liant Can­ter­bury and Cru­saders coach. If he’d got the All Black job in 2007, when he de­served to, he would prob­a­bly have coached the All Blacks to vic­tory in the 2011 World Cup.

But rein­car­nated as Dingo Deans, in an Aussie track­suit, he hasn’t com­manded the same au­thor­ity and his re­sults have been spotty.

In an ideal world, a national team is bet­ter served hav­ing a coach from its own coun­try.

Eng­land football has tried to be pro­gres­sive. Swede Sven- Go­ran Eriks­son and Ital­ian Fabio Capello have man­aged the national team, which once would have been un­think­able.

Eriks­son had a 59.7 per cent suc­cess rate and Capello’s was 66.7, both very re­spectable statis­tics – the great Alf Ram­sey’s suc­cess rate was 61.1 per cent, and that in­cluded win­ning the 1966 World Cup.

How­ever, Eriks­son and Capello strug­gled to re­late to play­ers and fans. Eng­land has now re­verted to hav­ing an English­man run­ning its national side.

Eng­land cricket has also gone down the for­eign coach route, with Zim­bab­weans Dun­can Fletcher and Andy Flower coach­ing the national side, both with no­table suc­cess.

Per­haps cricket coaches are more able to cross bor­ders – Aus­tralian Steve Rixon did a good job with the New Zealand side, and John Wright was as suc­cess­ful coach­ing in In­dia as in New Zealand.

Gen­er­ally, though, it doesn’t seem to be a good idea, at least for ma­jor sports.

New Zealand rugby, with its wealth of tal­ent, has not needed to im­port coaches, and when it hap­pened once, with Aus­tralian David Nu­ci­fora coach­ing the Blues, it was a sham­bles.

I doubt any for­eigner will coach the All Blacks, thank good­ness.

Sim­i­larly, only New Zealan­ders have coached the Sil­ver Ferns net­ball side, but that may change.

At present the as­sis­tant coach of the New Zealand side is Aus­tralian Vicki Wil­son. And lead­ing New Zealand fran­chise Bay of Plenty Magic has ap­pointed Aus­tralian Julie Fitzger­ald as its 2014 coach. It’s hardly a vote of con­fi­dence in New Zealand net­ball coaches.

In sports in which New Zealand doesn’t have the ex­per­tise, such as bas­ket­ball and per­haps hockey, I can un­der­stand a for­eign coach be­ing ap­pointed.

An­drej Le­ma­nis was su­perb with the Break­ers bas­ket­ball side, and Aus­tralians Mark Hager and Colin Batch are coach­ing the New Zealand men’s and women’s hockey teams with­out too much blow­back.

It could be ar­gued that New Zealand doesn’t have much football ex­per­tise but it’s been nice hav­ing a New Zealand coach in Ricki Her­bert, rather than yet an­other with an English ac­cent. And the team has re­sponded well to Her­bert.

The for­eign ex­per­i­ment hasn’t worked con­sis­tently well in rugby league. Aus­tralian Ivan Clearly was out­stand­ing with the War­riors, but have over­seas coaches John Monie, Daniel An­der­son and Matthew El­liott been any bet­ter than their New Zealand equiv­a­lents? It’s de­bat­able.

There’s no prob­lem when a coach heads to a min­now sports na­tion, such as The Nether­lands or maybe Bangladesh in cricket, and Croa­tia or Ja­pan in rugby.

But once you get among the big-time, the wheels can fall off.

Did Gra­ham Henry look more as­sured coach­ing Wales and the Lions, or the All Blacks? When it comes to in­ter­na­tional sports coaches, I still say there’s no place like home.

Photo: FAIR­FAX NZ

Un­com­fort­able fit: It’s al­ways seemed odd see­ing Rob­bie Deans in a Wal­la­bies track­suit.

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