Lam-basting does Hansen little creditSave
By Wynne Gray
For someone with a sustained record of success mixed with sensible advice, All Black coach Steve Hansen's rebuke was a rare glitch.
He chastised former Blues coach Pat Lam for signing Steven Luatua on a two-year deal and lamented the lack of contact with New Zealand Rugby from the player and his agents.
It was a remarkable reaction on a number of levels.
New Zealand Rugby has such an over-arching grip on every aspect of the professional game in this country that nothing happens without their knowledge, say-so or the intrusion of high-performance coaches.
With the persistent noise about chasing the signatures of Ben Smith, Israel Dagg and Aaron Cruden, it's hard to believe NZR and their contracts team were unaware about the plans of all those playing in the Super rugby series.
When Luatua announced he was heading to a two-year deal with Lam at Bristol, Hansen suggested Lam should have had more respect for the loose forward's future in New Zealand.
The All Black coach also threw an unflattering ex-New Zealander label at Lam which provoked a strong response from the former All Black and Samoan loose-forward about his need to work as a coach offshore and recruit players.
"The only reason we don't live in New Zealand at the moment is I had an opportunity to continue to coach rugby professionally in Ireland and support my family after being sacked by the NZRU and the Blues," Lam said.
Makes you wonder if Hansen will greet Warren Gatland with the same ex-title when the Lions rock up this year or how he treats Joe Schmidt, Vern Cotter and other Kiwis coaching rival international sides.
When Hansen crosses paths with departing Chiefs coach Dave Rennie this season will he address him as a soon to be ex-Kiwi? Is former Crusaders player and coach Todd Blackadder an ex-Kiwi at Bath or Daryl Gibson in the same category with the Waratahs?
When there's negligible turnover in the top rugby jobs in this country, coaches who feel they can make it or need a different challenge and work environment to kick-start that aspiration, look for overseas posts.
I don't recall Gordon Tietjens renouncing his NZ citizenship to coach the Samoan sevens side nor does it mean that new sevens coach Clark Laidlaw has abandoned his Scottish heritage when he hooks up with the NZ side from mid-year.
Every coach wants players who are the best fit and if they happen to be some like Cruden and Luatua whose NZR contracts have lapsed and want to move on, then good luck to them.
Was Hansen an ex-Kiwi during his spell coaching Wales and how does he view his predecessor Graham Henry who turned a couple of Kiwis into instant Welshmen?
When Lam coached the Blues in a troubled four-year spell, his explanations and interaction with the media were jumbled and rambling. His reaction this week to Hansen's criticism was bang on point.