Steve Tew or Anton Lienert-Brown? Let's start with the happy news.

The sudden emergence of Lienert-Brown might be the last straw for the rest of world rugby, as it watches the All Blacks edge further and further ahead of the pack.

There aren't many holes in the All Blacks' operation, but centre was looming as one of them. Malakai Fekitoa's laboured efforts were being partially masked by excellence elsewhere, but with Conrad Smith gone it looked like one position where the men in black had stepped back.

Think again. In a few blinks of an eye, Lienert-Brown emerged as if born to the position, the huge bonus being that he looks suited to two positions - second five-eighths and centre.


Lienert-Brown has great skills, balance and an instinct and liking for defence. There are so many great things already in place. Imagine how good he will be in 20 tests' time. It is an inspired selection.

Next mission: Finding the next No6. Jerome Kaino is a giant. He has made a career out of crushing people. He is still crushing people. Kaino is going to be very hard to replace. Then again, people said that about Conrad Smith, Kevvy Mealamu, Dan Carter, and so on and so forth.

Now, the not so happy news. Steve Tew.

Every time the All Blacks win another test, it's a win for the New Zealand Rugby chief executive, whose administration of the game fits with the domestic rugby ghetto he has created. His condescending performance around the Wellington rugby assault case was pathetic. He hopped on a plane for Argentina rather than complete the job of contacting all of the people assaulted by Wellington rugby player Losi Filipo.

Tew did get hold of one person, the mother of a Filipo victim.

I'm not sure if the NZR chief executive was the man who needed to make contact with the Filipo victims. But having promised on TV to do so, he needed to act with honour and follow it through with grace. Fat chance. General manager Neil Sorensen filled in.

"We shared lots as parents. We shared with them our apologies. It was a horrible thing for their kids to go through, and again said sorry," said Sorensen who, unlike Tew, sounded like a man with a soul.

Tew's decision to head for the airport and let Sorensen complete the job was a giant one-fingered salute to decency.

He should have cancelled his flight and stuck to his word. It was an iconic moment for the rugby age, the head of the New Zealand game racing off towards overseas delights with nary a care for a seemingly pressing and very unfortunate situation at home.


Mike Hesson is not quite the prophet he was made out to be. The national cricket coach can't live on his magical 2015 Cricket World Cup results forever. He needs to be held at least partly responsible for a run of poor test results. It started with players turning up in dribs and drabs for a disappointing tour to England, and ragged preparation for a tour of Aussie. There has been no relief in the series against South Africa and India. We are a strong short-form cricket nation, but it's the bad old days on the test scene.


The Kiwis are capable of blowing Australia and England away in the upcoming Four Nations league competition. They have a truly explosive squad, led by Jason Taumalolo's running power from lock, and the impact of Martin Taupau who I'm guessing will be used by new coach David Kidwell from the bench.

This being the Kiwis, they could also collapse in a giant heap of course but this is unlikely under their tough new coach. The tournament begins late this month with the matches played at six English venues. For those wondering who the fourth nation is, it's Scotland. Honestly. The Scottish league website - yes, there really is one - says their squad is still to be confirmed.


F.A.F. Free Andrew Fifita. Yes, the damaging Cronulla forward got it badly wrong when he wore a forearm band in support of the so-called one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge. Such a public display would be devastating for the friends and family of Loveridge's victim, Thomas Kelly.

It's not the place for such messages. But this could easily have been sorted out, with Fifita banned from displaying the sign which read FKL (which stands for Free or For Kieran Loveridge). If he turned up wearing the sign, ban him from the match. Easy.

But it is a breach of freedom rights to ban Fifita from being selected for Australia on the basis that he has visited Loveridge in prison and spoken with him many times on the phone. He has every right to do this. And they are childhood friends for goodness sake. The NRL has got it totally wrong by banning him from Australian selection. Fifita's private life is his private life. The game doesn't own that.

Banning wing Semi Radrada from Aussie selection is just as wrong. Radrada has pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges and is awaiting trial. He is still an innocent man. The Roosters faced a similar situation with Shaun Kenny-Dowall, and continued to play him. People said Kenny-Dowall should be stood down. The Kiwi centre was subsequently found not guilty on 11 domestic violence charges.