Replaced coach questions process

By Jared Smith

The end of Wanganui rugby coach Jason Caskey's tenure was not a "knee-jerk" reaction to losing the Meads Cup, but being a victim of his own successful longevity.

Since the surprise announcement of Karl Hoskin's two-year appointment to the Heartland coaching role ahead of Caskey last Tuesday, there has been some sharp criticism of Caskey's treatment, given Wanganui's 2011 Meads Cup victory and 2012 runner-up performance during his two-year contract.

Serious questions have also been asked whether Caskey was ever in the running after a former Wanganui rugby great discovered he had been mooted as Hoskin's assistant coach during the interview process before even being asked.

Kerry Whale, 100 games for Wanganui, confirmed on Friday that Hoskin had phoned him in November about being his deputy.

"I'm not sure that the process was quite right," Whale said.

"It was certainly after he had been interviewed because the Wanganui union rang me up, and I said that wasn't the case [that I had agreed]."

Whale said he declined Hoskin due to other coaching commitments and out of respect for Caskey and his assistant Jason Hamlin.

"They are good friends of mine and I was proud of what they have done in the last couple of years."

He became concerned they were not getting a fair shake and had made a few inquiring phone calls.

"[Hoskin] did ring me back and apologise," Whale said.

"Jason's obviously bitter about it. You don't get into coaching to come out bitter."

To Caskey's mind, his effort was wasted because the decision for Hoskin seemed so predetermined.

What was supposed to be a seven-day process was extended to 12 after Whale said no, Caskey said.

"They basically gave him all the time to find somebody else.

"[CEO] Dale Cobb and [chairman] Dave Hoskin had basically said the job was mine and this was just about transparency.

"I knew after the interview there was no chance, especially after hearing that [about Whale].

"If someone tells porkies in a job interview, it's usually 'see you later'."

Cobb, who confirmed he asked Caskey to reapply because he personally thought he deserved another tenure, said Hoskin's selection was fair and he was not given any advantage.

"There were questions about the process, but it was transparent.

"It did reflect in the interview process, there was clear direction that there was a need for change.

"That's where we talked about succession."

Cobb said the union board felt because Caskey had been in the Wanganui coaching set-up for seven years there was "not a clear pathway" to bring up other coaches if this extended to nine years.

"We had to keep a pathway open, so people have a realistic chance of saying 'hey, in two to four years, I can put my hand up'."

He said there was no "knee-jerk" reaction to the defeat in Ruatoria because even if Wanganui had won, Caskey's two-year contract was still up.

"He has an impeccable record and I take my hat off to Jason. He will go down in history with the record of one of our most successful coaches."

Caskey said while he accepted the "change" reasoning, he should have been told that before going to the effort of reapplying.

"If I was told that was the case, I would have walked away. It's not about losing the job, it's about how it was done."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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