All this Sheens sacking talk is really laughable
I HAVE been a journo long enough to appreciate that an alarmist story under a catchy headline still attracts attention. And reports in some opposition papers that the job of Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens job is on the line is certainly one of those.
Not for one moment am I suggesting Sheens is safe, because I have absolutely no idea what the powers-that-be are thinking.
But as Australia's second longest-serving coach with 26 wins from his 30 Tests in charge, sacking him on the 2014 Four Nations performance would be an appalling decision. Sure the Aussies were beaten, and the final score in Wellington on Saturday night flattered them.
In fact in both games during this tournament the Kiwis were easily the better side. But before deciding who should go, a realistic overview of both teams is needed.
Firstly, this is a terrific Kiwi outfit - up there with the best I have seen in my time covering the game. Without analysing every player and every position, was there a genuine weakness?
In the past the Kiwis have reminded me of Queensland - not a large talent pool, but players of average ability rising to the occasion.
That is no longer the case because the likes of Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran, Jessie Bromwich, Manu Vatuvei and Issac Luke are genuine top liners in any company.
And we should not forget that unavailable for the Kiwis in this campaign were big men Sam Kasiano, Sam Moa, Ben Matulino and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, as well and veteran centre Steve Matai and the emerging Roger Tuivasa-Scheck and Konrad Hurrell.
If that playing list is a guide, Trans-Tasman Tests in the foreseeable future shape as genuine contests and an upcoming Kiwi domination is unquestionably on the cards.
But extolling the virtues of New Zealand is only half the reasoning that any censure of Sheens is unjustified.
With the cattle he had, the veteran coach did an outstanding job to even get the Kangaroos to the final.
Surely rugby league fans do not need a reminder of the quality of Aussie players unavailable for the Four Nations tournament. Analyse this list - Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, Josh Morris, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, James Tamou, Nate Myles, Luke Lewis, Paul Gallen, Josh Dugan, Anthony Watmough, Andrew Fifita and Trent Merrin. And while most of the debutants more than held their own, I doubt whether many of them will get a look in when the bulk of that lot are back on deck.
Having said that, David Klemmer was outstanding and Ben Hunt made an
impact off the bench every time.
In reality, Sheens
performed a minor miracle to get the Kangaroos to the final and to lose in a thriller.
This was the same team beaten 30-12 by the Kiwis three weeks earlier.
Suggestions he will be sacked on that performance are laughable.