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'Tough for the relationship': Turinui says Aus-NZ relations worst since 2003, spins Ian Foster theory

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24th August, 2021
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Former Wallaby Morgan Turinui says rugby relations with New Zealand are at the lowest point since 2003 in the wake of the unsavoury spat over the fate of Bledisloe 3.

Speaking on Stan Sport’s Rugby Heaven on Tuesday night, Turinui praised the All Blacks players for how they’d handled themselves but was critical of New Zealand Rugby officials.

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“This is as low as relations have been since 2003 when the Wallabies saved the Rugby World Cup by hosting it alone as opposed to hosting it with New Zealand,” Turinui said.

“The great John O’Neill threw a few grenades in his time but the last couple of days have been tough for the relationship.

“What we’ve learned is that Australian rugby did the right thing. When Rugby Australia asked for patience, maybe it would have been good for New Zealand to do it.”

Turinui also claimed NZR held Perth rugby fans hostage.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to think the All Blacks didn’t want to play the Bledisloe but New Zealand Rugby used 60,000 ticket holders for the Perth Test on the weekend as hostages to try and get some of the things in order that they wanted to.

“Some of it’s to do with the private equity deal and they’ve got issues with the players’ union around that.

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“It’s been reported that they made moves to some promoters in the UK about hosting TRC and games over there.

“They’re trying to deny it but I know the company, I’ve had dealings with the company that they’re said to have dealt with – and they definitely have.

“We’ve also just heard that Ian Foster has been confirmed as the head coach through to the 2023 World Cup in France.

“The information is at board level and high up in New Zealand Rugby administration, this wasn’t a fait accompli.

“I’ve heard that twice the rugby committee has recommended to the board to confirm and re-contract Ian Foster through to the next World Cup and twice it was rejected by the board.

“There are significant elements within the boardroom that wanted Scott Robertson brought in as All Blacks head coach for the next two years… and they were trying to buy time. There’s been lots of backroom moves and manoeuvres high up at board level.”

Rugby Australia CEO Andy Marinos also appeared on Rugby Heaven and said there were still “open wounds” in the relationship with NZR over the dispute.

SANZAAR announced a new schedule for The Rugby Championship that will see Bledisloe 3 take place in perth and then all remaining games held in Queensland.

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“We’ve got to be grown men about it and start focusing and moving forward,” Marinos added.

“The reality is, whether we like it or not, we are geographically linked and it is important that we continue to build that relationship for future generations and for the strength of rugby in the region.

“I’m certainly of a very positive and proactive mindset to keep moving forward and I think that’s what we need to do for rugby.

“And for the rugby public in this country, having these games, hopefully getting the certainty of the third match against New Zealand locked away, will really just be a good springboard for us to build the game in this country.”

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