Martin Devlin: Why won't Super Rugby players defend Steven Hansen?

Radio Sport,
Publish Date
Thursday, 28 February 2019, 1:30PM

Super Rugby's started and people are moaning.


It's a seasonal occurrence these days. Kickoff coinciding with an annual angst-fest about the comp starting way too early  and this year that gripe aligned with constant complaints regarding our All Blacks and how much, or little, they are allowed to play.


Of course, in all these sorts of arguments first thing needed is a scapegoat, so come on down Mr Steve Hansen!


As well as being blamed for Brexit, global warming, Donald Trump's hairdo and Ozzie cricket's sandpaper scandal the All Black coach is once again the main focus of all the finger-pointing around who's actually responsible for where and when these  players will and won't appear.


Look, I won't bore you with the real story of how this unworkable situation was eventually resolved, if you're that keen on reading those details then it's all there on the NZR website – fill your boots and successfully cure whatever insomnia you may've once had.


Suffice to say it's a little more involved than the conspiracy theorists will have you believe and Steve Hansen in fact does not tell every NZ super coach each week who to pick and how much they must rest.


The one maddeningly absent voice amongst this whole debate is that from the players.


Why are they or their representative RPA so silent on this issue? Why are they happy for their coach to cop it all when they were also fully and equally involved in all negotiations insisting on these same enforced breaks to keep themselves fresh for the ultimate prize that awaits in Japan?


I challenge one player, one senior All Black, to publicly state that he wishes he could play every game of Super Rugby.


The reason they won't is because they don't.


Make no mistake, the players know exactly where their bread is buttered. The biggest financial rewards come from playing for the national team. The most lucrative end-of-career contracts are given to those with the best and most impressive All Black appearances. The World Cup is the ultimate platform from which to advertise their wares.


Even the most vehement coach haters must be able to understand that equation. And if they don't or won't then at least come October all will be forgotten and, if we three-peat in Yokohama, maybe even forgiven.

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