9 November 2011


I'm seeing some interesting things in the tea leaves, lately.

Robbie Deans has all the hallmarks of a man who has been recruited by the ARU for a long term plan. Not just to establish ourselves now, for if that were the case, maybe we would have been more desperate to show improvement during the RWC.

Over the last, say, ten weeks or so, Robbie Deans has not looked like a man desperate to win the RWC at all costs.

Indeed, there were some pretty puzzling selections and decisions, made, weren't there?

No Giteau in the RWC squad - no back up no 7, which nearly came a cropper.

Nobody really took Quade Cooper by the coat tails and helped in his "hour of need".

Looking back on it, it's as if Robbie is a protected species, and maybe that't what has happened.

Is it too much to think that the powers that be took the view that we might or might not win the RWC, but that that was not the main game?

As Rugby has now got to find more ways to be profitable on the world stage, moves into Asia, moves into North America, NZRU teaming up with North American franchises, the prospect of Rugby in the Olympics where previously unknowns will start to throw serious money at the game ....well, maybe that frightens the likes of Australia and NZ. One of the opening salvos in that campaign was lobbed during RWC when NZ complained about the cost of mounting a campaign, and the ARU jumped right in behind them, with almost indecent haste. YOu would love to be a fly on the wall in John O'Neill.s office, at least when he is having closed door sessions with Robbie. Not much of this would be minuted, because the ARU would probably leak like a sieve.

So, if my theory is right, I take my hat off to the ARU for bravery. If you think about it, we have been living on borrowed time for years with a squad of brilliant players most years, but not a lot of depth behind them. This smacks of an attempt to build that depth, which is a move designed for the long term.

For instance ...... why has Robbie left it so long to bring James O'Connor into the midfield - his comments today suggest that James, despite his immense talent, still has a lot of development to go through...he suggests that Tapuai is a successor and cover, despite Horne and Faingaa only just beginning to settle into those spots.... a typically evolutionary process, not one driven by panic or pragmatism.

Why has he left it for so long to involve Berrick Barnes in his best position, which, patently, is no 10?

Why did we take three halves to the RWC and we are now talking about Lucas being the back up?

and importantly, when will the ARU start to put the same kind of serious effort into the forwards as they do with the backs?

It all points to another couple of years of development, and the only conclusion is that we are building for evolution and consistency, not winnign cups every four years by taking pot luck.

Just hope we can put down a few markers along the way and not always be evolving.