Hurricanes coach sacks All Black stars Lan

Mark Hammett

Hurricanes Coach - Mark Hammett

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett dropped one of the biggest rugby bombshells last week by sacking All Black stars, Ma’a Nonu and Andrew Hore from the franchise. The message was simple “nobody is bigger than the team”.

The Hurricanes have always been the underachievers of Super Rugby, and something had to be done.

No one is arguing about the ability of Nonu and Hore. It’s good enough for the All Blacks. The issue is with their commitment to the Hurricanes’ cause.

I’ve got no doubt that they are fierce competitors, but they needed to show that they want to win as part of a team, not just as individuals.

Whether they liked it or not, Mark Hammett runs the team and is responsible for results. By most accounts, Nonu didn’t believe in the direction that Hammett was heading with the franchise, and Hore didn’t feel that he should have had to stop his weekly beers as an example to the squad, but that’s just speculation.

There’s only one way this could have ended.

Hammett believed that the culture in the Hurricanes had to change in order for the team to move forward and believed that the influence that the senior players had was hurting the Hurricanes. This was a bold move and the coach needs to be applauded for making such a big move.

We must also remember that Hammett is a new coach, so having Nonu questioning his methods in front of the squad undermines his authority. We all saw what happened to the Brumbies in 2011 when the players have too much say and one would think that Hammett saw this scenario taking place in Wellington and shut it down before it could gain momentum.

I’d also argue that Nonu’s reputation as being the team joker hurts the Hurricanes. This shows that Nonu hasn’t matured as a person in the time that he has been with them. The big centre made headlines earlier in the year for his R-Rated post match review. His on-field discipline has also been questionable and it seems as if Hammett has had enough.

You can get away with that stuff when you’re a young member of the group, but when you’re a senior player, you’re expected to set a good example for the younger players.

Hammett should be applauded, not for the sacking but for having the backbone to do what he believes is right for the team no matter how unpopular it is.

Whether it works or not is another matter. We all know how good Nonu is, there’s no questioning that. The issue here is that rugby is a team sport, and when the player starts becoming bigger than the team the game loses its appeal.

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