Kiwi dreams turn to nightmares in Wellington

16 Have your say

    Former player now TV commentator Monty Betham made a statement during last night’s epic quarter-final clash in Wellington that summed up exactly the current state of international rugby league.

    Betham made the comment, “One of these teams is playing like a tier 1 nation and the other like a tier 2 nation”.

    How right he was as we saw a composed Fiji expertly guided around the field by the enigmatic but brilliant Jarryd Hayne. Coach Mick Potter, although he struggled for success in the NRL with the Wests Tigers, has this team playing and believing they can go all the way. The gap between nternational teams has well and truly closed, and that is great for rugby league.

    All supposedly tier 2 national sides have fielded in this tournament have assembled their best squads of all time.

    For the Kiwis, with their well-documented weakened squad, they had this match to continue to redeem themselves after becoming the first tier 1 nation to lose to a tier 2 nation in rugby league history after the previous week’s defeat to Tonga.

    Tournaments are about building momentum, and New Zealand were unable to do that after allowing Tonga to score 26 second-half points in their final pool match a week earlier. With that Tonga took top spot, booking a quarter-final clash with Lebanon, which they only just survived, while the Kiwis were going to have to get past two unbeaten teams in Fiji and then Australia to make the Final.

    It will be forever remembered that this wasn’t going to be the case, as Fiji killed all New Zealand dreams with a stunning two-point victory.

    Where did it go wrong for the Kiwis?

    (NRL Photos/Grant Trouville)

    It is more a case of what went right, and the simple answer to that is not much. Maybe even nothing, as coach David Kidwell, campaign manager Shane Richardson, technical assistant Brian Smith, the Kiwis themselves and New Zealand Rugby League suffered one controversy after another, contributing to quite possibly the worst build-up to a tournament you could imagine.

    This was shown in the results of the tournament, with the Kiwis unable to get going when the going got tough.

    There are many questions that will be asked but probably not many answers to be given. The list of calamities this national side faced was on an extraordinary scale.

    The facts will remain, though, that since November last year and even before that, with Stephen Kearney still in charge of a very poor away series against England, that the fateful draw against minnows Scotland stands out (although the Kiwis did exact masterful revenge for that previous result), and also in the Anzac Test when Australia raced to a 24-0 lead.

    They were just two on-field signs that New Zealand were nowhere near where they needed to be heading into this year’s rugby league World Cup.

    Unfortunately it was all the off-field controversies that the Kiwis could not rebound from – far too many to list and dissect over as they have been well documented anyway.


    So the end result leaves rugby league in New Zealand in turmoil, with the game needing a complete revamp and a well thought out recovery plan.

    New Zealand Rugby League have left the game to die at grassroots level and then allowed that poor management system to infect the countries most senior team, the Kiwis.

    Their is not one person to blame for the Kiwis predicament. This poor World cup exit is purely as a result of bad management on many levels right throughout the NZRL.

    On a positive note, the management of the tier 2 nations have the international game of rugby league at the strongest it has ever been. This world cup is not over and Papua New Guinea could well continue the upsets tonight against a powerful England team.

    As New Zealanders we may be hurting, but as rugby league fans this is a great time to be watching the great game of rugby league.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (16)

    • November 19th 2017 @ 8:44am
      Birdy said | November 19th 2017 @ 8:44am | ! Report

      Good opinions Percycutor,
      Hard to disagree .
      I’d like to add another quote to your article. That of Michael Potter before the first ball was kicked in the rlwc, ” Fiji are the real deal”.
      Even with NZ restricting Hayne as much as possible the Bati still found a way.
      They are locked and loaded to go all the way to the final.
      Meninga will be putting in extra video sessions this week.
      Coach of the tournament so far,
      Mick Potter,
      Shock player of the tournament so far, Niquama ( excuse the spelling im still waking up) at fullback.Although one of the fittest players in the NRL Ive never rated him. Where did this form come from. Good bye Tedesco.
      Congrats to Uate for a long awsited return to form we all knew he had, and out of position I might add.
      Truck loades of egg in your face.
      This award goes to everyone who had a hand in stabbing M Potter in the back at Tiger land.
      Thats everyone on the board , players, supporters the press and the list goes on.

      • November 19th 2017 @ 9:12am
        Birdy said | November 19th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

        I left out the complete and utter idiot award.
        That goes, by the length of the straight result to the NSW RL for not having Fiji in the nsw cup already.
        Must Qld always show the way?

      • November 19th 2017 @ 12:32pm
        Birdy said | November 19th 2017 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

        I left out the sitting on your hands award.
        By the length of the straight, the winner is, the NSWRL.
        Why isnt Fiji in the NSW cup?
        Must Qld always show the way forward.

        • Roar Rookie

          November 19th 2017 @ 6:02pm
          Percycutor said | November 19th 2017 @ 6:02pm | ! Report

          Cheers for your comments Birdy, here in NZ when we were discussing the game during the lead up to it, I could only say we (NZ) were no certainties to beat Fiji.
          And so it proved, the Kiwis were just outplayed and I do think out coached on the night.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 10:39am
      paul said | November 19th 2017 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      Your comments about NZ League are spot on and it’s good you’ve highlighted issues other than just the coach and the players. There’s no doubt NZ has the talent but needs the recovery plan you mention to really be a force in world Rugby League

      • Roar Rookie

        November 19th 2017 @ 6:03pm
        Percycutor said | November 19th 2017 @ 6:03pm | ! Report

        Big problems in NZ at grassroots level. It’s a huge fix and a very tough one.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 11:09am
      Scott said | November 19th 2017 @ 11:09am | ! Report

      How about that fantastic crowd last night in Wellington.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 11:49am
      Johnybulldog said | November 19th 2017 @ 11:49am | ! Report

      Great read Perc,keep writing mate,well done.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 19th 2017 @ 6:04pm
        Percycutor said | November 19th 2017 @ 6:04pm | ! Report

        Cheers Johnny appreciate it. Funny enough I had been thinking lately whether to hang the pen up.

    • November 19th 2017 @ 1:02pm
      republican said | November 19th 2017 @ 1:02pm | ! Report

      ………always elated to know NZ are defeated, at all and sundry, especially by any PI nation, since they have benefited to such a high degree, in both Rugby codes, from these nations…………

    • November 19th 2017 @ 4:17pm
      Andrew said | November 19th 2017 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

      NZ have ow found themselves in a position where they are being coached by an ex-player who has never coached a first grade game (and may never now), they have players not wanting to play for them and it s summed up by having a player (Martin) at 5/8, who has only ever played first grade to cover injuries. The number 2 team in the world shouldn’t be fielding a back up player in the halves and a hooker who is barely a first grade player in the 1/4 finals of the World Cup.

      • Roar Rookie

        November 19th 2017 @ 6:08pm
        Percycutor said | November 19th 2017 @ 6:08pm | ! Report

        Very fair points, I think Martin will develop into a very good international player. His confidence would have taken a hit not getting a start against Tonga, he was ineffective last night. Levi is a star, a no frills tough little battler. I reckon he is a future kiwi captain and will have a great nrl career. But both still young so anything can happen!

        • November 19th 2017 @ 6:43pm
          Birdy said | November 19th 2017 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

          Love to see you write an article on where you think NZ RL is struggling and what can be done to fix it.
          No doubt the Warriors have helped put RL into the spotlight but have dropped the ball big time lately.

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