New Zealand Rugby
Hobbs defends under-fire coaches
August 16, 2009
New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs announces the team for the All Blacks upcoming November tour to Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Ireland at the New Zealand Rugby Union headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand on October 26, 2008.
The NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs has backed Henry to steer the All Blacks back to the top of the world © Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby Union chairman Jock Hobbs insists he has no regrets about re-appointing All Blacks coaches Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith.

The decision to renew the trio's deals until the 2011 Rugby World Cup before the Tri-Nations kicked off raised eyebrows when it was announced in July, particularly given the All Blacks' sub-standard performances against France and Italy in June and the fact the three had existing contracts which ran to the end of this year.

The All Blacks' faltering Tri-Nations form has heightened those fears with back-to-back defeats to the Springboks heaping pressure on Henry and co. But Hobbs is sticking by his coaching team and backed them and New Zealand captain Richie McCaw to lift the team out of the mire.

"It does not dent our confidence or make us reflect back on our decision to extend their contracts because those decisions are made involving a whole range of factors and are not dictated by a series or Test to Test," Hobbs said.

"I know that people are getting a bit agitated and a bit disappointed because the expectations are very high and that's fine, so they should be.

"That is what we live under. But as I say, I have confidence in the coaches. I have confidence in the senior players and a great deal of confidence in the leadership of Richie McCaw and a lot of work is being done to get us through this patch," he told the New Zealand Herald.

Hobbs admitted no-one involved with the team was happy with a return of three losses from six games so far this year.

"We know there is criticism but the focus is on getting things right and everybody has a role to play in that. It is a difficult patch though. You can't really walk into a difficult patch, collapse and throw out the toys. It is just not sensible.

"No one's happy. Everyone is looking for that improvement and we all have to work harder and that work, I know, is being done."

In related news, Hobbs has admitted that the Union will have to write a substantial cheque after hosting the Rugby World Cup.

The Sunday Star-Times last week revealed the forecast loss associated with hosting the tournament had blown out from NZ$30 million to NZ$40m and the NZRU has agreed to pay one third of any loss.

But Hobbs has moved to assuage any fears the tournament no longer stacked up financially. "I have not been startled or shocked by anything I have seen [from the latest budget figures]. We see the deficit as an investment because of the benefits to New Zealand rugby. There are risks but when there are risks there are also rewards."

The newspaper reports that the Union's liability is about NZ$10m but that doesn't include the NZ$10m the NZRU invested in Rugby New Zealand 2011 Ltd, the union-government organistion that is running the tournament, and the NZ$10m contribution it made to the upgrade of Eden Park.


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