Cooper Hansen can stay beyond 2019 if ABs keep winning in bin as Baabaas blow it
Another Cup win would give the coach a mandate to keep the job.
Former Australia coach Alan Jones nearly had bragging rights for good over Michael Cheika but a rusty Wallabies outfit narrowly accounted for his spirited
‘‘H Barbarians team 31-28 in Sydney ow do you judge a yesterday. coach? Just look at
Many thought the Wallabies the bloody results.’’ would coast to victory but three Fred Allen, first half tries saw the Barbarians undefeated All Black coach in 14 take a 21-12 lead into the break. tests over three seasons.
First-gamer Duncan Paia’aua Steve Hansen will have rattled crossed for two tries, including one some cages when he said that, if in the 62nd minute, which gave the the All Blacks won the World Cup Wallabies back the lead. in Japan in 2019, he might want to
But just when the Wallabies stay on as their coach. gained ascendancy, some Quade And yes, it would be a Cooper magic put the Barbarians groundbreaker for a coach to get a ahead 28-24. third crack at taking the All Blacks
Taqele Naiyaravoro finished off a to a World Cup. But Hansen isn’t clever Cooper chip over the top to only a realist (he knows a third Tom Banks but when the Waratahs term would depend entirely on wing was yellow carded with 10 victory in Japan), he’s also been a minutes to go, it was anyone’s game.
There was even more drama shortly after when Cooper was also sent to the bin for a high shot on Israel Folau.
The Wallabies made the most of their two-man advantage, even if they were both backs, with Stephen Moore crossing in the 73rd minute off the back of a rolling maul to put the result beyond doubt.
The big concern
Sun-Herald for the Wallabies, however, is back-rower Jack Dempsey, who went down in the 77th minute with what appeared to be a knee injury.
He was in a lot of pain after coming out of a breakdown second best and it will be a huge loss if he is ruled out of the spring tour.
Meanwhile, Lukhan Tui left the field in the first half with what appeared to be an ankle injury and it was not clear at the time how severe the injury was.
If there was any doubt this match held little significance, that was washed away immediately when Barbarians winger Eto Nabuli absolutely steamrolled a defending Karmichael Hunt.
But the biggest hit of the afternoon came courtesy of former Waratahs back-rower Palu, who hit hooker Jordan Uelese into next week. Palu managed to wrap his arms around Uelese and unleash a bone-crunching tackle that rocked the 20-year-old to the delight of a smallish crowd at Allianz Stadium.
They were about the only highlights the Barbarians had in the first 10 minutes as Paia’aua crossed for his first try in a gold jersey.
Like regular Wallabies No.10 Bernard Foley does so often, Paia’aua threw a dummy, straightened and attacked the line to come away with a five-pointer in the ninth minute.
While both teams tried to be exciting in attack, the skill level overall was poor and there was plenty of dropped ball.
The most entertaining moment of the afternoon came when Taniela Tupou was denied a try for hiding the football under his jersey.
Referee Brendon Pickerill had to intervene even though, saying: ‘‘You can’t intentionally put the ball inside someone’s jersey. It’s unsportsmanlike behaviour and I can’t allow it.’’ revolutionary in the job, and now that he’s cemented power sharing and players’ committees as mainstream policy, he could be the man who changes how we look at the length of a head coach’s term.
Judge him on his record? Have a look in the cabinets at New Zealand Rugby in Wellington. The DHL Trophy for the 2017 Lions series, has, of course, a twin in the British Isles after a shared series, but every other trophy in world rugby available to the All Blacks is there. And even this year, not vintage by Hansen’s standards, the side goes to Europe on an 80 per cent win rate.
Before the World Cup arrived it didn’t matter how successful an All Black coach was, most of them served for just two years. Some of the poor sods only got a year. Bob Duff had one tour in 1972-73, won three tests, lost one and drew one, and then it was spot ya later. The World Cup cycle has changed that, but has our thinking shifted enough to consider a 12-year term at the top? Let’s look at some of the questions raised by Hansen naysayers.
He’ll be too old after 2019.
If Hansen wins in ‘19, then at the next Cup in 2023 he’d be 64. Graham Henry was 65 when he coached the All Blacks to victory in 2011.
Somebody else deserves to get a crack at the job.
If Hansen stays until 2023 he’ll have been head coach for 12 years. Colin Meads and Richie McCaw played 15 seasons for the All Blacks. Did anyone ever say Meads or McCaw should quit to give another bloke a go?
The All Blacks have gone backwards since winning the World Cup in 2015.
They lost one test in 14 last year. A more reasoned argument for two losses and a draw out of 11 so far this year would be that the All Blacks have struggled to deal with a nightmare run with injuries and unavailability.
From the first test team against the Lions six players, (count them, Ben Smith, Israel Dagg, Beauden Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Joe Moody, and Owen Franks) couldn’t be considered for the test loss to Australia in Brisbane. Yes, New Zealand rugby has great depth, but you can’t lose 40 per cent of your starting lineup and expect things to stay the same.
In 2015 the All Blacks had the core of their backline, Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu, and Conrad Smith, in their last international season, and in hindsight it’s almost a miracle that all three were uninjured, and in superb form, at Twickenham for the final.
The All Blacks didn’t look as organised as they needed to in Brisbane.
No, they didn’t, but I’d strongly suggest a major reason for that was that so many of the team hadn’t played much rugby together, for a variety of reasons, none of them Hansen’s doing.
There was a picture perfect example of that in Marika Koroibete’s try, the third for the Wallabies. As Israel Folau ran towards the line, he was covered by Waisake Naholo. But if you watch the replay you’ll see Damien McKenzie swivel his head towards Folau. By the time McKenzie had all his attention on Koroibete, a fatal step had been lost, and on the line McKenzie had no chance of stopping the try.
Why was there a split second loss of faith by McKenzie? Because to have complete, instinctive, faith in a team-mate on defence only comes with time together.
This year, with the plethora of injury and suspension changes, McKenzie and Naholo wouldn’t be too far from the point of needing ‘‘Hello my name is…’’ badges with each other. There could be another nightmare list of injuries in 2019, but history shows years like this one are, thankfully, pretty rare.
Hansen shouldn’t have said ‘‘the sun will still come up tomorrow’’ when they lost in Brisbane.
Maybe losing doesn’t mean as much to him any more. Really? Unlike Alex Ferguson he’s never thrown a boot in a player’s face. But a lack of public or private meltdowns (win or lose he always been the anti-Cheika with his behaviour) doesn’t mean Hansen doesn’t care. His success is based on his control, not his temper. The man at the naming last weekend of the team to tour Europe didn’t have the look of, or sound like, someone unconcerned about a loss to the Wallabies.
In the end I’m at one with Fred Allen. If, and only if, the All Blacks win a second World Cup under Hansen’s leadership why on earth shouldn’t he get the chance to have a shot at a hat-trick?
Matt Duffie’s elevation to the All Blacks has not been far from plain sailing.
Steve Hansen has been challenged by a lengthy injury list.
Quade Cooper is shown the yellow card.