Thirteen short observations (one for every starting player) in the wake of THAT 2-4 Rugby League defeat…
1) A massive sporting shambles. One of the biggest in our history, right up there with 2003 America’s Cup ‘bucket in a boat’ and the Rest and Rotation abject failure from the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
2) The resultant outbursts from the Kiwis team itself will go down in NZ sporting infamy’s Hall of Blame alongside the fallout from the 1999 and 2007 World Cup Rugby Union defeats to France (albeit ‘99 was on a whole other level for toxicity; scary also comes to mind).
3) We have once again successfully maintained our national pastime of refusing to acknowledge the very good play of the opponent in the role of the defeat.
4) 99% of people underestimated the ability of the Fijian team. They didn’t just win their pool games- they massacred every opponent. Light years ahead of their side from four years ago.
5) Fiji doesn’t have a League ‘pedigree’, so to speak. That somehow precluded them from being a legitimate semi-final hope beforehand, according to a fair few.
6) Sorry, no. Not the worst League defeat in our history. That was 0-44 to Australia after winning the First Test so memorably at Olympic Park in Melbourne in 1991. (We then lost the third by a similar score).
7) Our head coach did indeed ‘kid well’ when at the squad announcement he asked the wider sporting public to swallow that now completely infamous line: ‘The key (Ki) is the we (wi)’. Criiiiinge.
8) The siege mentality/ almost cult-like approach that was created by the coach and captain after the Tongan defections.
9) The papering over of the chasms, not cracks, after the second half capitulation against Tonga.
10) The worst performance of Shaun Johnson’s career in either a Warriors or a Kiwi jersey. He just looked lost and appeared so jittery he almost couldn’t even execute a regulation catch and pass properly. And it’s better not to comment about his positional kicking. I am genuinely worried about his mental well-being. I feel incredibly sorry for him, actually.
11) What Johnson said afterwards was so out of character and said under huge duress that he is one person that should be forgiven quickly. It can’t get worse really (or can it- you know what I mean- the comp that starts in March).
12) David Kidwell is a good and honourable man. We know he screwed up and we know he will get the chop. He’s been taken to pieces pretty savagely and probably fair enough because of the childish reaction to the Fiji defeat, but can we ease off the kicking now just a tad?
13) Right after ‘the key is the we’ remark from Kidwell at the outset, Private Frazer from the old classic ‘Dad’s Army’ would have no doubt proclaimed the following: