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.

Sunday Star-Times - - Sport - TOM DE­CENT October 29, 2017

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

The

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?

PHIL WAL­TER/GETTY IM­AGES

Matt Duffie’s el­e­va­tion to the All Blacks has not been far from plain sail­ing.

GETTY IM­AGES

Steve Hansen has been chal­lenged by a lengthy in­jury list.

GETTY IM­AGES

Quade Cooper is shown the yel­low card.

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