Former coach fires broadside at union

By Iain Hyndman

Former Wanganui Heartland rugby coach Guy Lennox is disgusted by the sacking of his former assistant Jason Caskey who was head coach for the past two seasons.

The Wanganui Rugby Union announced on Tuesday that Karl Hoskin had been chosen to replace Caskey and his assistant Jason Hamlin for the 2013 season, starting at Easter.

Since the story broke feedback has been divided, with reaction from clubs able to be contacted by the Chronicle yesterday ranging from "accepting" to "surprised" and "very surprised".

None of the debate focused on Hoskin's ability as a coach.

The strongest criticism, however, came from Lennox.

"Just when you thought New Zealand Cricket had presided over the biggest balls-up of the year, the Wanganui Rugby Union comes in and trumps it," Lennox said. "I feel the sacking of Jason Caskey is both disgraceful and disrespectful. A person who has played 75 games for this union, served as an assistant coach to both Milton Haig and myself for six years and then two years as head coach, deserves to be treated with a bit more respect."

Lennox said this was not a slight on new coach Hoskin.

"I don't care if it was Graham Henry standing against him [Caskey], he had every right to be reappointed. To win a championship and be a runner-up in his two years is an outstanding achievement. How the board of the Wanganui Rugby Union saw this record as unsatisfactory defies logic.

"If the union really had wanted change why was this message not conveyed to Jason before he was encouraged to apply for his position again and go through the whole interview process? I hope the board is prepared to hold themselves to the same exacting standards they expected of Jason.

"All Heartland unions have limited resources, but our greatest resource is the people and the different skills they bring. Once we start shafting these people we are all the weaker for it.

"All the best to the new coach, you have a very high standard to live up to," Lennox said.

Meanwhile, Pirates Club president Alan "Tad" Taylor said while he had yet to canvass members he personally did not have a problem with Hoskin being named coach for 2013.

"I'm personally quite happy with Karl's appointment. He has had a very good education rugby-wise as he's come through the club system. Jason did a good job, but Wanganui did struggle at times during the season and whether that comes down to coaching or other teams catching us up is debatable. The decision has been made - let's get on with it," Taylor said.

Marist secretary Clark Allan said Hoskin had done a good job for the club over several years and he believed members would be comfortable with the announcement.

Kaierau president Geoff Davies was surprised. "I haven't spoken to our guys, but it's a bit of a surprise," Davies said.

"Jason's record has been pretty good, although Karl has done a lot of work coming through the system. But the decision has been made and we just need to move on."

Ratana club captain Kamaka Manuel said he was "very surprised" and thought Caskey had been hard done by.

"I'm very surprised. I've played many times against Jason over the years and he's a decent guy. He was a good coach along with his assistant Jason Hamlin and they have developed lot of depth in the rep side. I'm a bit shocked. I feel he has perhaps been penalised for the last few minutes of this year's final," Manuel said alluding to Wanganui's last minute 29-27 defeat to East Coast.

"In saying that, I know Karl well too and he is developing and progressing as a coach - I just feel for both Jasons really."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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