The NZR managerial fiasco continues but there’s now an end in sight to why Thrush felt “guilty” about the comeback, Smith snubs

The circus about the next All Blacks coach is expected to end within six weeks.

New Zealand rugby chairman Patsy Reddy said the process – which is expected to see Scott Robertson appointed to succeed Ian Foster after the 2023 World Cup – will be completed in “four to six weeks”.

“New Zealand rugby has a responsibility at play in relation to the appointment of our national coaching teams,” Reddy said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This is particularly important in a global rugby environment where there is significant competition for elite coaching talent.

“Following extensive consultation and careful consideration of all scenarios and key lessons learned from 2019, New Zealand Rugby is now embarking on a process to select the All Blacks head coach from 2024.

“We know these decisions are challenging as we seek to balance public scrutiny with high expectations of performance, within the need to uphold our responsibilities and ensure we prioritize internal conversations with our employees.

“To date, New Zealand Rugby has been reluctant to speak publicly about an All Blacks coach appointment process in order to protect the integrity of the process and minimize scrutiny of the people involved. However, recent events call for some clarity.

“Given the differing views on the best times for this process and that neither window is perfect, out of respect for the people involved, New Zealand Rugby will not be making any further comments after today until a decision is made. This will be completed in the next four to six weeks.”

The statement puts an end to wild speculation about the schedule for a new coach. Robertson had previously told reporters a decision was imminent, which NZR disputed, and incumbent Ian Foster has opposed a call ahead of the World Cup, saying it would create distractions for the team.

Reddy later said at a media conference that she had faith in Foster and “absolutely behind him” to lead the All Blacks to success at Rugby World Cup.

Foster has said he might want to continue if New Zealand wins the World Cup. Reddy’s testimony takes that factor out of play.

Robertson is challenged by Japan head coach Jamie Joseph for the role if Foster is fired.

Reddy declined to respond to Foster’s comments.

“We’re all passionate about it, it’s really important for the country, we understand that,” she said.

“And like I said, no timing is perfect here. We have to weigh the options and have decided it’s our decision to make the decision now, to have clarity, to get it over with so we can focus on the current team, management and coaching staff and they through rugby World Cup 23 can support priority.”

Defending the NZR’s previous lack of clarity on the process, Reddy said: “We are coming out now to make our point clear.

“It’s a confidential process and it will remain confidential from now on, but we are not responsible for what other people say in the media.”

Reddy said it’s “up to Ian” if he applies for the job again.

“I think everyone is really focused on winning Rugby World Cup 2023. We’ve now seen a number of players who, while fully focused on Rugby World Cup 2023, are looking to their future. I think it’s normal in high-performance sport that professional athletes, coaches and management teams are always looking to the future,” Reddy said.

Smith sent back for “play time”.

Marcus Smith’s international career is at a crossroads as the youngster is sacked by England ahead of the Six Nations game against France.

Smith will “benefit from playing time” after being released for the Harlequins, according to England head coach Steve Borthwick.

The 24-year-old was left out of the England training squad with George Ford returning.

“I felt like getting some playing time was the best thing for Marcus,” Borthwick said.

“He had very limited playing time so I felt like this was a step forward for him.”

Smith initiated England’s defeat by Scotland but was a substitute for victories over Italy and Wales.

“You would die for it”

Western Force suspension Jeremy Thrush says he struggled to shed his “dad body” ahead of last week’s fairytale comeback, but some reassuring words from Richard Kahui and Dane Coles helped boost his confidence.

Thrush was lured out of retirement on the eve of the Super Rugby Pacific season by new force coach Simon Cron after injuries to Ryan McCauley (shoulder) and Izack Rodda (foot).

The memorable comeback will forever be engraved in Force folklore as Thrush came off the bench to score the winner in Saturday night’s 34-27 win over the Melbourne Rebels.

Cron is considering keeping Thrush for the full season and the 37-year-old is open to the idea.

But he initially felt a bit guilty about the comeback given the special bye he received in his retirement game against the Hurricanes last season.

“I felt pretty bad to be fair. The way they sent me away with that haka was really special and I was pretty grateful for that,” Thrush told reporters on Tuesday.

Jeremy Thrush of the Force looks on during the first round Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Melbourne Rebels at HBF Park on February 25, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Jeremy Thrush of the Force looks on during the first round Super Rugby Pacific match between Western Force and Melbourne Rebels at HBF Park on February 25, 2023 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

“I texted Dane Coles (Hurricanes Hooker) when I knew I might be on the bench just to warn him.

“I just told him none of this was planned.

“He just said, ‘Keep at it and give it a try’. It made me feel better about all of this.”

Former Force and All Blacks teammate Kahui was also supportive.

“He told me during the weekday it was like riding a bike,” Thrush said, before adding, “I said ‘one with flat tires and a rusty chain.'”

What made Thrush’s performance all the more remarkable was the fact that he only had a full week of practice with the Force under his belt before the game.

“(Before that) I had probably done two runs alone, nothing too intense,” he said.

“I’ve been on the Wattbike and lifted weights a few times but nothing too serious.

“I was just trying to get rid of the father’s body, but it took a while.”

Thrush says he will have “rolling” discussions with cron and force management on how long he’s needed.

But at least he will be unleashed in Sunday’s clash with the Queensland Reds in Melbourne.

Thrush is part of the Force Academy coaching team.

He is also the head coach of WA rugby union team Wests Scarborough.

If Thrush’s stint with the Force lasts the entire Superseason, he said there’s a way to balance his coaching and playing duties.

Thrush was initially reluctant to reverse his decision to retire. But the more he thought about it, the more correct it seemed to him.

“I’ve met a lot of great people through the Force, guys that injuries can’t play for them anymore,” he said.

“I kind of knew that if they made the same decision, they would die for it.” The NZR managerial fiasco continues but there's now an end in sight to why Thrush felt "guilty" about the comeback, Smith snubs

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