Earlier this afternoon when David Kidwell began the Kiwi Rugby League World Cup team announcement with some weird message about putting the ‘Key’ is ‘we’ ( I still have no idea…), even though it was over the radio you could almost sense the vultures- the journos in attendance- queuing up to feed on the dying carcass- the NZRL. And then to compound the surreal, they began the reading with ‘The side for the 2018 World Cup is…’ (the tournament starts in a couple of weeks).
In short, what a complete shambles it’s all looking for the NZRL. Although, on the flip side, with the sudden Taumalolo changeroo and League’s biggest boofhead Andrew Fifita doing the same over in Oz, what absolute dynamite publicity for the tournament. The marketing gurus haven’t even needed to think about returning to their offices from those long lunches. There are now more than three teams with a realistic chance at reaching the Final.
What really sticks in the craw in the whole Taumalolo affair is his sudden decision to jump ship. The eligibility laws for international Rugby League sit roughly alongside April Fool’s pranks and they make World League’s governing body look like the biggest sporting joke going around- particularly in the eyes of Rugby Union, and that’s sad.
Sorry, but I’ve got nothing but contempt for Taumalolo’s ridiculously late change of heart. The preening talkback about Kidwell’s not up to it etc., is superfluous. Forget about all the whats and where fors about the perceived capability of the head coach, the real issue is about pulling out of a team on the cusp of the most important tournament there is and letting down your mates and all the support staff, not to mention every single Kiwi fan. It is immature and disloyal.
There could just be a mitigating story behind all this though. The only way we’ll ever get to know is if Taumalolo himself fronts up with the real story, not the spin. Would that change things? Time will tell. The absolute truth will surely surface eventually.
Is it the case however, that when Taumalolo became the forgotten man of the bench during the ANZAC test, that it could have been somehow intentional of Kidwell to leave him festering? Doesn’t there have to be a bit more to it than Kidwell just forgetting? What’s more plausible is that there was already some bad blood there. A coach doesn’t just ‘forget’ he has a real weapon at his disposal. Surely not. At any rate, was that incident the overriding one that precipitated the change in allegiance?
This year particularly I’ve been trying my level best to adopt the mantra of unconditional compassion. But when those lines get blurred by disloyalty, the compassion factor suddenly becomes rather redundant.
And that’s why, unless something comes out that Kidwell made an example of, or previously insulted Taumalolo for no good reason, I will be looking forward to the Kiwis trying to sit him on his selfish butt when they clash with Tonga in Hamilton.
*It’s also worth mentioning that Jason Taumalolo was born in New Zealand.
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