Public relations disaster

Somebody please shut these clowns up!

If it is not Joe van Niekerk firing up the Aussies with the old tale of the bounty on George Smith’s dreadlock or Jake White telling the Irish that none of their team would make his team (whilst in Dublin) or White questioning the absence of Waratahs players in a Brisbane test, it is now the leader of the pack, convener of selectors Peter Jooste telling the media just why Butch James will play and how he will play against the All Blacks.

“Against New Zealand, if you keep kicking them into the corners and stopping their momentum, they can crack under the pressure. They get frustrated far easier than the Australians,” Jooste told the media in explaining James’s late call-up.

In the meantime New Zealand sent out two players to talk up the Boks. They spoke of the wounded Bok, the pride of the Bok jersey and how tough Saturday’s test would be. They spoke of the physicality of the Boks and the demands of playing them. Graham Henry said the Boks would not again be that poor as they were in Brisbane. He said he failed to understand what went wrong because they were a better team than the result reflected.

He spoke with respect and reference, a respect the Boks don’t deserve.

Like any informed and astute sports coach, he let the local media wind up the opposition. The New Zealand media laughed at the Boks performance. They splashed ‘braindead boks’ headlines across the local papers in Wellington. The public and media in New Zealand have let the Boks know what they think of them.

Henry has not needed to chip in with a barb.

So enter our clowns.

The All Blacks have not lost in 20 tests at home in the past three years. They’ve been pushed close a few times and come out on top. They’ve played a different starting XV in nearly all of those tests and beaten everyone in world rugby. Teams have kicked to the corner and stayed there for five minutes without scoring. Think back to the Pumas in Buenos Aires a month ago. For five minutes the All Blacks held firm. They certainly did not crack under the pressure.

Any team going backwards Mr Jooste is vulnerable. Any team without momentum is not as effective. But can you tell me when you saw an All Blacks team under Graham Henry crack because of a straight-running flyhalf who keeps them in the corners with probing kicks?

I think Butch James is a good call-up, but Butch’s strength has never been a conservative game of kicking to the corners. He is an abrasive and instinctive player who can be brilliant and woeful in the same movement.

Message to the Boks. 49-0 was your statement. Now shut up, get your head down, pull on that jersey on Saturday and restore some of that pride.

Tell those hangers-on in the squad set-up that they only add to the crassness of the last week with their poorly timed need to be quoted and be read about in the papers.

It makes for great banter from the Muppits and myself, but for goodness sake get it together over there.

I feel for the public relations manager Anne Lee Murray. How does she actually get her job done when every hanger on in the squad set-up has an opinion and wants to read it in the paper over breakfast?

Where’s the control and the protocol in this squad?

Where’s the manager (oh there is not one) Where’s the communications manager? (apparently there is one) Where’s the professionalism? Where the hell is the team that won the Tri Nations in 2004?