Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Kearney has to go

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What is this? That 70s show?

The Kiwis rolled back the years in the World Cup final, evoking depressing days past as they failed to fire a shot and were chewed up by the magnificent Australians at Old Trafford.

On second thoughts, you don't need a time machine to find useless Kiwi teams. Three finals victories since 2005 obscure their awful current record against Australia. There were actually teams from way back, with blokes from building sites rather than social network sites, with more character than the glossy Kiwis who ran up the white flag yesterday.

Losing to that Australian team is no disgrace. Losing like that is, not that I claim to really care for now. The day Steve Kearney sacked Tohu Harris to pander to the Sonny Bill Williams factor was the time to emotionally detach from this campaign. If that's how they treat their own, then au revoir troops.

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Maybe the buried shame of what was done to Harris ate at the soul of this Kiwi team, no matter the stories about the amazing SBW who turns lives around. Where, you kept wondering, were statements from senior Kiwis in support of Harris. Instead, SBW was feted far and wide by one and all. I kept wondering what Harris was thinking.

SBW rolled up the sleeves in the semifinal and final, while a lot of those awestruck mates looked on. If the Kiwis had retained the Cup the story would have read how the brotherhood beats all. When they lose, the Fab Family doesn't get mentioned.

Crucially, the highly rated Kiwi prop rotation failed, starting with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves who went from scary NRL monster to World Cup semifinal and final battler. Why? Haven't got a clue.

Kearney and his tournament selectors made poor choices - such as over-working Issac Luke, failing to react to Bryson Goodwin's first game disaster, and playing Roger Tuivasa-Sheck on a leg injury that couldn't last one tackle in the final.

But it was the absence of grand final fire which stuck out as the league World Cup concept - which a lot of people laugh at anyway - took a bashing via Australia's cringe-inducing dominance.

In retrospect, Shaun Johnson's last gasp winner against England was the wrecker. England, led by the mighty Sam Burgess and James Graham and backed by a 70,000 crowd, would have given Australia more to think about. English rugby league, with wonderful supporters, also deserves a victory.

Kearney has to go. The widespread suggestions that assistant coach Wayne Bennett was the key factor in the 2008 World Cup triumph have gnawed at his reputation. They will now envelop him. And some of us just can't forget the cynical, craven Harris axing.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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