Chris Rattue: Where there's no hope, there's no glory

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At least our disastrous World Cup rugby campaign didn't signal a loss of hope.

Yes, Graham Henry and his cohorts may have been found wanting when it really counted but there are highly promising solutions, notably Robbie Deans. Hope is in the air.

What of the Kiwi league team though? Have they ever sunk so low as the 44-0 humiliation at the hands of an excellent Great Britain side in Hull yesterday. And what can they do about it?

What the past month suggests is that even if the Kiwis are bolstered by the return of leading players, they don't have a leadership to make much of it anyway. There is no cohesion or spirit to what they do.

Great Britain - led brilliantly yet again by prop Jamie Peacock, who also starred Downunder during last year's Tri-Nations - will most likely smash the Kiwis into oblivion in the final test at Wigan.

What utter disappointment. After a close first test in Huddersfield, there was so much hope that this series would turn into a cliffhanger, even though the Kiwis were hardly inspiring in their first outing.

No, this isn't the best of Kiwi teams but they should be a lot better than what we have seen.

It was a disgraceful capitulation yesterday, and one which has left the scent of sporting death hanging over coach Gary Kemble.

The New Zealand Rugby League, a body that inspires even less faith than this Kiwi team does, must sack Kemble at the series-end after the appallingly disjointed and dispirited display in Hull.

It would be an enormous risk going into next year's World Cup with this captain of calamity still in charge and the overwhelming impression is that the players - raised in the Aussie league world - simply aren't responding to or respecting his ways. Then again, who would take his place?

There was never much to recommend Kemble to the Kiwi job apart from being the most well-known figure in a large group of hopefuls.

He had been in and around the domestic scene for a long time, but unlike his predecessor Brian "Bluey" McClennan there was nothing to suggest he had the wherewithal to make this generation of Kiwi players tick individually or collectively.

You could only despair on learning that Kemble, aided or maybe encouraged by the hierarchy, has had a couple of juniors fly to England in the name of blooding them for test futures.

What Eddie Paea and Masada Iosefa will learn by hanging around with this mob remains to be seen. They would have been better off back in their Sydney beds.

And what their arrival might say to a group of under-pressure test men can only be guessed. Players can hardly believe a coach has much faith in them when, in a very public way, he starts lining up replacements.

The best you could say about the Kiwis after yesterday's disgrace was that there is a very small core - I would nominate Roy Asotasi, Simon Mannering and even first test villain Sam Perrett - which played with enough heart to suggest that all might not be lost. But I am clutching at straws here.

It is a tough job, taking charge of the Kiwis. But not this tough. And maybe the Kiwis have no option but to change their rules and seek outside help again.

The heart says that the last thing we need is an Aussie like Wayne Bennett taking charge of the Kiwis because this would be another step in a loss of league test identity, and one which may actually be at the root of the Kiwi problems.

As the former Kiwi league coach Bob Bailey said last year, a test match doesn't look much different to a standard NRL game any more as players pick and choose their national allegiance. You sense that representing the Kiwis doesn't mean quite so much to some of the mainly Australian-based and in some cases Australian-raised players.

I suspect that test status is just another feather in the cap to parade around the Sydney nightclubs for some of these blokes.

The Kiwi team has lost its real New Zealand identity, which is perhaps why more people have turned up to Mt Smart Stadium for some NRL games than they have for tests between the Kiwis and Australia.

Yet the head says, who else is there besides a top notch Aussie - if any are willing - when Kemble gets the boot?

Bring back Bluey perhaps. But in all honesty, selecting and coaching a team when you are parked on the other side of the world is not a seriously sensible option, especially when someone such as McClennan already has a demanding job.

Here's one out of left field. The rough Aussie diamond Phil Gould. He wouldn't tolerate any nonsense, and the man can coach.

Vitally, the Kiwis need players of the Ruben Wiki and Nigel Vagana ilk who will drive the team's desperation and standards and create a new identity of their own.

One thing is certain though. The Kiwis' shambolic performance against Australia in Wellington and their black day in Hull has shown that Kemble must go.

There are signs of the New Zealand administrators' hands all over this Kiwi team, but in the end, the buck stops with the coach.

Coaching the Kiwis is to step through a minefield, and it blew up in Kemble's face in his old hometown of Hull.

* Right, let's work this out.

Where is Auckland at with its sports facility construction?

Someone tried to float a rugby ground in the water but that never got off the ground.

So it was back to Eden Park, which has got more add-ons than your average Kiwi bach and attracts traffic jams like Trevor Mallard attracts punch ups.

Speaking of Eden Park, it is also the ultimate cricket oval, as in it is shaped like an egg and is an egg.

We've got a junkyard that masquerades as a speedway track dumped in the middle of a residential zone, and a stock car track that is more beaten up than the cars racing there.

It's difficult to work out if we even have a soccer ground and the league headquarters are in the second-hand car part capital of the world.

The rest of the city is dotted with white elephants and dogs in the stadium department, and the street race venue was cancelled because you can't put on anything exciting if it means a couple of suits can't get to work on time.

It's a sorry tale, the sports venue business in Auckland.

But now we have been exposed as a city that cannot build a boxing ring.

Actually, truth be told, there have been a couple of boxing venue disasters in Auckland. Just little problems, like the rings collapsing and the crowd rioting.

So we should have our guard up when it comes to the fight game.

But oh no. Not us. There we were, on Friday night, watching the best contest the city has seen for ages, and the ring becomes a rink.

Shane Cameron and Friday Ahunanya not only got to slip a few punches but they got to slip all over the place as the surface became wet.

Yes, advertising has its place in sport, but that place shouldn't be on the surface of a boxing ring if it is going to turn the contest into a slide-athon. By the time Friday sent Cameron into Monday, it was difficult knowing whether to send in an ambulance crew or call out the coast guard.

Will we learn by this? With our record, that is unlikely.

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