By CHRIS RATTUE

Gruff coach Dave Waterston was hit by tragic news after his Namibian side suffered the biggest World Cup hiding at the hands of Australia by 142-0 .

Kiwi Waterston, whose colourful comments have littered the tournament, was told by his wife that his 87-year-old mother, Mollie, had passed away in Dunedin.

"The result was immaterial then - I just felt empty," 58-year-old Waterston told the Herald, as emotion overcame him.

"I don't know if she was watching the game. She probably died about fulltime. There's always an irony in life.

"She's been my biggest supporter, along with my wife."

It will be a day Waterston never forgets and rugby will have difficulty forgetting Waterston as he rides off into the sunset.

This is supposedly his rugby departure point, but he hasn't bothered with sugary farewell speeches.

His blunt words, which sometimes hold uncomfortable truths, are like neon lights in a back alley of rugby PC. Dave Waterston is not watered down.

Waterston, who coached Tonga in 1999, blasted referees a week ago for "licking backsides" to get plum appointments after Irish forward Paul O'Connell escaped punishment for stomping.

Rian van Dyk, a disgruntled player who quit the Namibian team, says of Waterston: "He thinks nothing of telling a player that he is fat, lazy and useless.

"He shows no respect to his fellow coaches in front of players and accused Paul Kaplan [a coach he sacked for "disloyalty"] of being useless and without character."

Waterston explains: "Paul went against our game plan. He got the assistant coach's job and he wasn't good enough to hold it."

No fuzzy talk there either.

The pressure has got to Waterston, though. After quitting smoking 18 years ago, he lit up before the opening kickoff against Argentina at Gosford and has been furiously puffing away since.

Waterston begged the team manager for his comeback fag as they wandered the Central Coast Stadium.

"I suppose I deserve a $400 fine for smoking it at the ground," Waterston told the Herald.

"I don't regret it. You have to be an allrounder coaching a small team like this.

"There's a lot of pressure."

Waterston sometimes claims to consult a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue on team selections, although he did water this one down yesterday.

"It's a bottle of duty free in my room. Whether I've taken a sip is another story. There is some truth there. I certainly had one last night."

Waterston, who played for North Otago in the 1960s, has worked on oil rigs, owns an insurance broker company and has run 100 marathons "exactly".

He assisted the Springboks' successful 1995 cup campaign, where among other things he was in on the discussion to nullify a rampaging Jonah Lomu in the final by targeting his left, ball-carrying hand, Waterston explains.

He says the All Blacks know the truth of that cup final poisoning controversy, implying that recent claims that five players became ill after eating prawns are true.

"I know the truth and I'm not going to tell you," he says, turning coy. "But the All Blacks manager and coach should be shot because they know the truth too."

Waterston never stops taking a poke at the IRB, dropping in his crazy sayings to spice up attack.

"They're an old boys network. It's like punching a pillow.

"They smooth the pillow out like nothing has happened.

"If they were a board of directors, they'd all be fired."

On his employment prospects: "I've had enough, I can't get a coaching berth in South Africa because I'm not English enough for the English, and not Afrikaner enough for the Afrikaner."

And Namibia's cup preparations were hampered by a "black v white situation we defused".

Dave Waterston is the man who could launch a thousand headlines, and then some.

He will probably blast his way out of rugby when Namibia plays Romania in Tasmania on Thursday. He'll be missed.