Steve Braunias: The Secret Diary of … The All Blacks

OPINION

IAN FOSTER

It is what it is but it also it isn’t what it isn’t and what it isn’t is that it’s not my fault.

We’re all hurting. You should see the state of some of the boys. I called them up this week, and I said to them, “Gidday,” I said, “It’s old mate Fozzy here,” but some of them couldn’t find the words and they just grunted in a fairly non-committal way. Some of them didn’t even do that. It was just silence. In fact quite a lot of the time I just went straight through to voicemail.

We came to the game prepared. I sent out the tactics as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet available on PDF but also on Jpeg, Tif and Google Doc. And so we weren’t short of tactics and we weren’t short of files but sometimes files are incompatible with the mobile phones the boys use and we’re going to have to sort out our IT side of the game and I’m confident we can do that with some extra tuition.

We’ve lost two games back-to-back and it’s not up to me to find out the last time that happened but it probably wasn’t that long ago and while I wouldn’t exactly say I was relaxed about it I also wouldn’t say that I’m feeling the pressure. This role always comes with pressure so what I feel right now is disappointment. But that’s nothing new, either. I’ve felt disappointment many, many times before as a Super Rugby coach and in some respects I think that’s what I bring to the role as All Blacks coach. A sense of disappointment. And that’s something you can’t measure.

We’ve got seven days to turn this around. I think what happened last weekend is that we saw a team who everyone said their disadvantage was that they hadn’t played a lot of rugby. In fact it meant they came in here with massive energy and desire to prove something for their country, which has gone through a heck of a hard time. And so now their advantage is they’ve had a big win and that will give them massive energy and desire, whereas we’re coming from a place of shame and defeat – but it’s only the bloody Pumas. We’ll smash them.

SAM CANE

The fans want to find fault because that’s the way it goes with a howling, uninformed mob but the people who really know the score know that it’s not my fault.

To me, if I’m having my leadership questioned in the public, people’s opinions that really matter to me are my teammates and my coaches, who I work with every single day. Ánd so I can bowl up to Beaudy and say, “What’s your opinion of me, mate?” and he’ll say, “Yeah, all good eh, what’s your opinion of me?” and I’ll say to him, “Yeah, all good.” That’s the kind of honest and rigorous assessment that goes on.

And Fozzy, I know Fozzy’s there for me. he’s been calling all week. Someone needs to tell him that no one listens to recorded messages anymore.

But the fans don’t see that. They may know the game from what they see in the 80 minutes but they don’t see a lot of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes. And at the end of the day, the 80 minutes on the park, as measured by a result on the scoreboard, isn’t where games are won or lost.

And so you have to remind yourself that, hey, the public might like to think they know a lot about the game of rugby – but really they don’t. I wouldn’t like to say their opinion is worthless. Or that it’s total junk. Or that I view it with massive disrespect. But it isn’t very helpful and anyway they’ll change their tune next weekend. It’s only the bloody Pumas. We’ll smash them.

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