ANY GIVEN MONDAY:
As All Blacks captain, Reuben Thorne wasn't known for making waves. Outwardly at least, he was one of the more passive leaders.
In recent days, however, he's turned passive-aggressive as he href="https://www.nzherald.co.nz/sport/news/article.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=12283796" target="_blank">decried the lack of a player voice on the panel to select the next All Black coach.
He's absolutely right, of course. It would be bonkers to make a decision that will go a long way towards determining the direction of the national team over the next World Cup cycle without the input of the players.
Thorne played the bulk of his career in an era where players were expected to be seen, not heard, so this next fact might blindside him a bit: the players do in fact have a voice on the panel… multiple voices, in fact.
The committee to pick the next coach is Brent Impey, NZ Rugby chairman, former Silver Ferns coach Wai Taumaunu, Sir Graham Henry, NZR head of high performance Mike Anthony, and incoming NZR CEO Mark Robinson.
As part of the deliberations and considerations, one of the panel members will feed into the discussion the thoughts of a panel of 11 current or recently retired players. It hasn't been announced who that panelist is but it would make sense if it was Anthony, head of high performance at NZR and an old university mate of Players' Association boss Rob Nichol.
This is the way it should be.
To have a single player on the panel would be an enormous and probably unfair burden, no matter how thorough that individual was. There are too many obvious pitfalls and potential conflicts for this to be a wise course of action.
As much as it's become a form of performance art to find fault with everything the national body does, it is difficult to be too critical of the chosen panel. Perhaps, if you were hellbent on being disruptive, you could point to the lack of a young voice – Robinson at 45 is the youngest – but again, it's not like the players are not getting a say.
The players' internal review of 2019 will no doubt be thrown into the mix as well, which will no doubt throw a spotlight on assistant coach Ian Foster's claims.
It is understood that one of the principal reasons NZ Rugby brought back Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith after the 2007 disaster was because of strong support from the players.
So take it as a given that the players' voice will be loudly heard. What is far more interesting is what it will say.
Just as it doesn't take a genius to work out who might be the players' contact on the panel, it also doesn't take an intellectual giant to work out why most of the leading candidates wanted Tony Brown as part of their coaching team.
The guy has something everybody wants: instant buy-in from the stakeholders most directly affected by the decision - the players.
New Zealand sport's fragile economics have been laid bare on a 10,000sq m patch of green grass in an increasingly unloved corner of New Plymouth.
Having had sad cause to visit the Riviera of the South this week, it was impossible to ignore just how angry many ratepayers still feel about being asked to fund a $50 million repair and upgrade of Yarrow Stadium, whose East and West Stands were deemed earthquake risks.
Much of the disquiet was coming from big-time rugby-heads who believed the city was duped into thinking it still needed a 25,000-seat stadium.
Sure, it's a nice shiny thing to have, but for what exactly?
The All Blacks have played four tests there, total, in 11 years. The indications are that New Zealand Rugby is in no rush to return for Tier One fixtures.
It hosted three World Cup matches. Indications are World Rugby is not rushing back to New Zealand for the tournament.
So the $50m is not going on test rugby.
Two Super Rugby fixtures are promised a year under Taranaki Rugby's agreement to join the Chiefs franchise from the Hurricanes. Two. Unless it's a playoff game, or Super Rugby enjoys an unforeseen renaissance, you don't need 20,000-plus capacity.
The NPC? Forget about it. You're dreaming if you ever think there will be a return to the days when crowds kept the turnstiles clicking for provincial rugby.
If you build, who will come?
The Warriors might pop in for a pre-season game, but so what.
The Crusty Demons might rev their engines, but they don't need a 20,000-seat stadium to do it in.
Age-group world championships? Ditto.
So again, what are you spending $50m on?
Taranaki was a huge part of Rob Muldoon's bold but ultimately doomed Think Big economic strategy. Here was a chance for the province's decision-makers to think small, to think boutique, to think realistically.
To think about leaving the region with something sustainable.
Like Muldoon, they failed.