Anendra Singh: Pedigree or not, sidekicks pivotal

By Anendra Singh

You can never take things as gospel on face value.

As long as I can remember I've always believed my father didn't have an iota of interest in sport.

On Saturday, July 14, about 1.30pm, I found out that was not the case.

Regrettably it was at his funeral in Suva, Fiji.

He was three days shy of turning 74.

To my shock, and latent joy, my elder brother had unearthed my father's life, which revealed he did have some sporting fibre in his body in his heyday.

My brother, a very late bloomer in soccer, sailing and rowing, was a PWNIIS (person with no interest in sport) in his high school/university years.

Ironically, it took a PWNIIS to research those facts as part of the eulogy to my father, which my brother delivered with aplomb to a smattering of mourners.

Apparently my old man, a law student-cum-civil servant under coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka's ministry, was a promising hockey player and a soccer winger with lightning pace.

Oddly, my father never spoke about sports, although I vividly recall him throwing a board game (draughts, complete with all its black-and-white pieces) out of the window when he realised he was staring defeat in the face.

I can't remember him ever turning up to any school sports to watch me, let alone cheer.

That may not have been such a bad thing after all, if my genetically flawed reactions to my daughters' sports over the years are anything to go by.

Renowned for taking no prisoners in his working life, my straight-talking dad would have been a potential candidate for today's unpalatable "ugly parent" syndrome. Maybe that's why he stayed away.

Talking of ugly parents, it seems Hawke's Bay Intercity Junior Rugby Board officials have still to decide what judicial action will be taken against former Magpies prop Colin Mataira after an incident at Park Island, Napier, on June 9.

It's time to stop passing the buck and for someone at the Hawke's Bay Rugby Football Union (HBRFU) to take responsibility for holding Mataira accountable for his alleged abysmal behaviour.

It's utter nonsense that Western Suburbs, who his son plays 12th grade rugby for, can't take action.

It's even more spurious when junior board judicial officer Gary Leahy starts hiding behind constitutional clauses.

It's simple, really. Mataira, 38, behaved badly and what should be paramount is getting the man away from youngsters, including his son, in the face of damning evidence.

Tamatea, who Mataira plays premier rugby for, are equally culpable and should read the riot act to him, too.

If he is a "great guy", as campaigners in his camp make him out to be, then what's the problem?

All Mataira needs to do is show everyone he can be an angel.

But I digress.

My preoccupation with today's column is to juxtapose the appointment of two coaches - Blues' Sir John Kirwan and Black Caps' Mike Hesson.

The former is an accomplished All Black winger while the latter has no pedigree as a cricketer.

Hesson is a career coach, although he may have had potential like my father but suffice it to say, he isn't likely to play that card.

No doubt, nice blokes but why does it feel like their appointments reek of under-whelming public expectation.

Kirwan has coached Italy and Japan and was a sidekick with the Blues franchise before plying his trade abroad.

Hesson has the Otago Volts, New Zealand under-19 and Kenya on his resume.

Nevertheless, what is crucial for both coaches is to find sidekicks who will tie up the loose ends for them.

Brendon McCullum, a Volt player, lobbied for Hesson as a "Kiwi" before foreigners and got his wish.

John Wright, even with his pedigree, has had to toil relentlessly.

Hesson is going to need more than McCullum's backing to achieve incremental value because he'll be dealing predominantly with the cellphone generation.

After all, it is preposterous to suggest a man with little or no playing background is incapable of getting the job done.

For Kirwan, who perhaps feels like the last invite to an old boys' reunion, it's increasingly a man-management challenge.

Trying to motivate players in a professional Super Rugby climate, including Piri Weepu and Ma'a Nonu who Mark Hammet couldn't bring to heel, will be the preamble to his season.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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