"John Hart sucked as a coach".
I don't know about you, but I feel better now I've said it for all the world to hear.
For a couple of months now players in the current squad have hinted at it, and the mainstream media have talked around it, but here is where it is said plainly.
"John Hart sucked!"
I know it is rather early in the season to make the comparisons... But bugger it, I'm going to, and to prove the point, here is my list of "then vs now" comparisons (selectively chosen to support my argument of course) based on what I have seen so far this year.
|THEN: (The Hart Era)||NOW: (The Smith Era)|
|Coach makes the winners speech||Captain and players make the winners speech|
|Captain makes the losers speech||Who cares - they ain't going to lose!|
|Focus on "professionalism"||Focus on "fun"|
|Team Manager "manages" the team
Team Manager wears a suit
|Team Manager "supports" the players|
Team Manager wears a Tracksuit
|"Closed doors" media policy channelled through management||Traditional and player-focused media interaction|
|Record run of losses||Record wins against Scotland and Tonga|
|Palpable tension between players and coach||Obvious camaraderie and mutual respect between players and coach|
|Just playing the game, just playing for the cash||Playing for enjoyment, playing for New Zealand (though the salary must help!!)|
|Structured inflexible game strategy defined by the coach||Fluid exciting game strategy allowing choice and ownership by the players|
|"Star-focused" approach placing immense pressure on individuals (Lomu, Mehrtens, Kronfeld, Cullen)||"Squad-focused" approach where every member is good enough for the starting team|
|The All Black "product"||The All Blacks|
|Squad selections based on track record||Squad selections based on form|
So there it is. Selective, biased, incomplete and unsubstantiated. But I stand by it all 100%
You can feel the excitement on the streets when the All Blacks take the field in 2000. The All Blacks are New Zealand's team again; accessible, friendly and open. They may not win all their games this year, but at least the public will know the players and coaches put in 110% before that game and that they were completely committed.
GO WAYNE SMITH, AND GO THE ALL BLACKS IN 2000!