Former All Blacks captain Reuben Thorne believes a players’ voice is needed when choosing the next coach of the national side.
New Zealand Rugby announced this week that it invited 26 Kiwi coaches to apply for the vacant role to replace Steve Hansen as head coach of the All Blacks, and that a five-person panel would ultimately make the selection.
The panel will consist of NZR chairperson Brett Impey, former All Blacks coach Sir Graham Henry, NZR Chief Executive Mark Robinson, NZR Head of High Performance Mike Anthony and former Silver Ferns coach and High Performance Sport NZ director Waimarama Taumaunu.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Martin Devlin, Thorne said he would’ve liked to have seen a players’ voice included in that panel.
“I do think a players’ voice is valuable,” Thorne said. “Back when I played I was never consulted at all. And I had four different coaching groups and I was never asked at any of those times about what I thought … it’s just the way it seems to be.”
However, Thorne warned that despite the importance in including the players in the discussion, there was also the need to be aware of potential “biases” that may arise when doing so.
“It’s always a tricky one because you’ve got a foot in both camps there – you’ve got a bit of loyalty to the existing group but then you’ve also perhaps have got favourites outside of that and people that you have a connection with.
“There is that risk of self-preservation … If you’ve got a good relationship with someone then you’re going to push for that person because you think they’re going to perhaps look after you, particularly if you’re still playing.”
One of the front runners for the job is Hansen’s right hand man Ian Foster, who will have the advantage of experience from within the current All Black setup. However, Thorne warned that “continuity” can’t be the sole factor in the panel’s decision.
“Continuity is important in some aspects but only if the right person is coming through in the group. You can’t just do it for the sake of it.
“There’s got to be a plan behind it and the person who has been part of the group previously who is going to step into the head role still has to be the right person. It can’t just be done for the sake of it.
“And if he’s not the right person then I think you go and change it completely and you put someone new in there. Perhaps that’s the point that we’re it. I’m not sure.”
While he didn’t put his full support behind any particular candidate, Thorne said he believes his “good mate” Scott Robertson would do a “fantastic job”.
“There are a lot of very good candidates at the moment. A lot of guys who are experienced head coaches and guys who have coached at the international level. So there’s a number of quality candidates there.
“I’m good mates with Razor and I think he’d do a fantastic job. But I also know that Jamie Joseph/Tony Brown combination would be fantastic as well. There are lots of candidates that I think would be capable of doing a really good job.”