The All Blacks are so impressed with the Sydney Swans’ “no dickheads” policy, they are talking with the AFL club to find out how it could be used in New Zealand rugby.
In town for Saturday’s Tri Nations Test, NZ assistant coach Wayne Smith was due to meet Swans staff on Wednesday to learn more about the culture of the Bloods, saying it had a synergy with the traditions of the All Blacks.
“We’ve been invited to go and have a look at what they’re doing and have a chat, so we’ll take them up on that offer,” Smith told reporters.
“It’s more in the way they run their campaign and the whole Bloods values system, honesty, that they’ve got there.”
Smith said he was aware of the Swans’ famous “no dickheads” recruitment policy under coach Paul Roos, which helped deliver Sydney a premiership in 2005 and grand final appearance in 2006 – even if Kiwi journalists were mystified by the term.
NRL club South Sydney also adopted the policy when new owners Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court took over in 2006.
All Blacks kicking coach Mick Byrne, a former AFL player with the Swans, has been partly responsible for the hook-up, which could even result in cross-code pre-season camps.
“I’m really impressed with their whole attitude that you can be recruited for Sydney Swans but you don’t become a Blood until you reach certain standards, and I guess that’s got analogies to us,” Smith said.
“We’ve got a lot of traditions and customs and bone-deep values associated with the All Blacks so there’s some synergy there.”
NRL star Karmichael Hunt’s defection to AFL led Smith to be asked whether an AFL/rugby union crossover was possible.
“I’m not too sure about that, we’ve got one helping us with our kicking coaching and I’d love to send a couple of players to the AFL pre-season to (do) hard ball work and so it’s something that I think we should look at.
“We might talk about the possibility of some of the players coming over for a camp or something our pre-season.”
The All Blacks previously experimented with cross code preparations when halfback Piri Weepu spent time with Andrew Johns at NRL club Newcastle in 2007.
Meanwhile, All Blacks centre Luke McAlister has eased fears he could miss Saturday’s crucial Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup Test at ANZ Stadium.
McAlister, who was named at inside centre ahead of Ma’a Nonu, suffered back spasms at training on Tuesday.
But he completed a full skills session at North Sydney Oval on Wednesday, showing no signs of the painful injury in a 90-minute workout, NZPA reported.
McAlister suffered the same injury after his last Test start against Italy in June and a final decision on whether he will play, or whether Nonu will earn a recall from the bench, is likely to be made on Thursday.