Revenge is a dish best served cold: Auckland Rugby League gets payback on Jim Doyle


It looks as though Auckland Rugby League will purchase a majority stake in the NZ Warriors. Good on them. They owned the club for a short period twenty years ago, and made a mess of it. Ten years ago, after the salary cap scandal, they said they wanted a greater involvement but were ignored.

Cameron McGregor, chairman of the ARL signalled in a radio interview with Tony Veitch today that the first item of business will be the settling of old scores. There will be no place on the board for Jim Doyle, former CEO and current chairman, and no, he hadn’t discussed this with Doyle, said McGregor. Poor old Veitchy doesn’t know enough about league to make the obvious observation – this is payback for the bitter dispute between the ARL and the New Zealand Rugby League in 2009-10. At the time Doyle was CEO of the NZRL.

McGregor also said that there will be big changes in the football department, although maybe not before the 2018 season commences. McGregor reckons the ARL knows a lot about football. It does not. The ARL is an administrative body for its members – amateur rugby league clubs. What he means is that heads are going to roll. Tony Iro is on the outer with the new Warriors CEO, Cameron George, with the talk being that he is going to be moved towards the door, losing his job as recruitment and development manager to become reserve grade coach. Iro has no friends in the ARL, so it’s back to the NZRL for him.

Inevitably, the Reserve grade and Under 20 coach and support staff will be drawn from the ranks of Auckland Rugby League. That may well be a good thing, unless you believe in merit based appointments. It does provide top Auckland coaches with the opportunity to advance to positions in NRL clubs.

I don’t know what this will mean for the NRL team’s performance. There might be a short term lift.

But, what does it mean for the 14-17 year olds who haven’t made Auckland rep teams and are thinking of a move to Australia? And what about players who don’t live in Auckland? The news is all bad. At present there are two pathways – ARL rep squads and the Warriors. Now there will be just one. There is more than enough talent in Auckland to fill the Warriors development group, so if you live out of Auckland, forget the Warriors. The club might keep the name ‘NZ Warriors’ but they will be the ARL Warriors.



Jason Taumalolo, Adam Blair, and David Fusitua



So, Jason Taumalalo the best league forward in the world decides he wants to play for Tonga at RLWC2017. He decided late in the piece, three days before the Kiwis team was announced, and he didn’t phone the Kiwi’s coach to tell him, instead announcing his decision through the media.

Good on him I say. Kidwell can’t coach, No news there, and in previous tests he has left Taumalolo on the bench for most of the game. There are drug and behavioural issues in the Kiwi camp. Taumalolo has said previously that he would like the Cowboys coach brought into the Kiwis setup. That didn’t happen. Jason Taumalolo has broken no rules (the players have until two weeks before the start of the tournament to declare their allegiance) and the Kiwis have only themselves to blame for the communication breakdown with their star player.

The Kiwis are crying because Taumalolo didn’t give them much notice, but how much notice did they give Isaac Luke that he was being dropped? None, which meant Luke did not have time to shift his allegiance to Ireland.

Then along comes Tony Veitch, host of the nation’s biggest sports radio show, to stir the pot. In yet another colossal blunder New Zealand Rugby league allows him to interview Adam Blair, one of the dirtiest players in the NRL, and the stand-in Kiwis captain. Blair says that Taumalolo should have been ‘man enough’ to phone the Kiwis coach and tell him of his decision. This from a prop who late charged a halfback in the semi-finals, hitting him in the back. Who is Blair to talk about manliness and fair play? It’s pretty obvious Taumalolo doesn’t rate Kidwell. Taumalolo has treated the selectors the same way they treat the players. What’s wrong with that?

Blair talks about wanting blokes in the team who ‘bleed black’. Come on! They’ve won one of their last six tests with very little bleeding at all. Soft displays between hitting the drug and drinks cabinet.

Blair goes on to say he doesn’t want to play in the same team as David Fusitua, an even later defection to Tonga. David plays for the NZ Warriors, the team Blair has signed up to play for in 2018. I know the Warriors is easy money for an old guy like Blair, and if he manage an injury or three he will only play half the games, but how does that statement benefit the Warriors?

How does Blair’s interview benefit the Kiwis, the team he captains? Is this what Kidwell calls preparation? Is his coaching plan now ‘get the boys steamed up over Taumalolo and Fusitua?’

There are deep problems in New Zealand Rugby League, as there are in the Warriors. They are personnel problems. If on-field performance is to improve a good many of the football and support staff of both organisations have to be moved out. The problems in the NZRL are highlighted by Taumalolo’s choice. It is pretty clear he prefers the culture and atmosphere of the Tongan team (and if Blair’s bitchiness reflects the Kiwis camp, the difference is clear) and he has no confidence in Kidwell as coach.




Rugby league: what’s happened to the junior Warriors?


When I last posted, back in February, predicting that the Warriors would not make the playoffs again (the sixth year in a row) this year, many people thought I was being a hater. Now, with three wins from seven games the Warriors are in the same position as last year! Ha. Jim Doyle has already hinted that he won’t stay if the club is not in the semis.

Mind you, I also predicted that Otahuhu would win the Sharman and promotion back to the Fox but they were beaten by Bay Roskill yesterday. Go figure.

But the real surprise has got to be the junior Warriors, the under 20 team. They are the most successful team ever in this competition with three championships but sit dead last with seven losses from seven games. Their coach, Grant Pocklington, is a good coach. He won the Fox three years in a row (2013, 2014, and 2015) with Pt Chev.  The problem lies within the club. There is no development system, and this is showing as other clubs do more with the material they have.

I joined The Opportunities Party


Yes I did. I joined Gareth Morgan’s “The Opportunities Party”. Not because I believed in its policies – at the time Mr Morgan hadn’t told anyone what they were. Nor did I believe we needed another rich white man to run the country. I was interested in what Mr Morgan had to say.
I attended the launch of the party’s campaign in the Mt Albert by-election. Gareth Morgan does not present well. His clothes are shabby not chic. The most frequent word he utters is “I”. The overall impression is that The Opportunities party is Gareth Morgan’s soapbox (the party’s constitution makes this clear enough)and Mr Morgan himself comes across as one of those self-important undergraduates dumb enough to think they have all the answers. I don’t think it is possible to have a discussion with Mr Morgan. He would see such a conversation as a teaching opportunity.
Mr Morgan is surprisingly naïve. He needs to appeal to a group of voters. He seems to understand that he might mobilise the under 30s with a platform that included marijuana legalisation and reclaiming wealth from the baby boomers. His stated aim of attracting 10-15% of the party vote is well out of reach if he doesn’t appeal to a core constituency.
My prediction for the Mt Albert by-election is that The Opportunities Party will secure fewer than 1,000 votes.

Woeful Warriors, rugby league returns to normal

papa-seaeagles2015 was bad enough, but in 2016 I got it all wrong. If someone had told me in February that the Warriors would miss the top 8, that Otahuhu would be relegated to division 2 in the Auckland premier competition, and Papakura would win the Fox I would have taken that bet! Yet all three happened.

Otahuhu’s relegation, for the first time in the club’s 100 year plus history was the least surprising. The club has been in a downhill slide since it last won the Fox in 2010. Poor leadership, poor financial management, no vision. But things should have stabilised with the club around 7th in the Fox. No such luck, and now Otahuhu is relying on traditional rival, Mt Albert, through the loan of super coach John Ackland, to lead it back to first division.

Well, lot’s of people don’t like him, and with cause, but Richie Blackmore can coach! Papakura had been in what, five Fox finals, in the last dozen years and lost them all until 2016 with Blackmore as coach. What’s more, they had three local boys playing in the final (George Edwards, Hemi Douglas, and Arthur Crighton). Pt Chevalier, champions for the last here years, had one.

The Warriors. I didn’t believe that the club could miss the semis with the roster it had. But it did. Basic skills go out the window when players put on a Warriors jersey. I’ve just seen it again this weekend at the nines where the Warriors did not win a game and dropped a lot of ball. Obviously Kearney doesn’t rate Tui Lolohea as a half, but to say Sam Cook is better?? The club is still dominated by a culture of fear, with schoolmaster Jim Doyle waving a stick in the background. Fear generates mistakes and stifles attack. Coome on Jim, make the connection!

Yep, normal service resumes in 2017. Pt Chev to win the Fox. Otahuhu to win promotion. The Warriors to miss the semis. Jim Doyle to offer Kearney his full support until the semis are out of reach.

At last, a socialist economic policy from Labour


OK, it’s only a float at the moment, but Grant Robertson has put forward the possibility of paying every adult some basic wage which would be supplemented by earnings from paid or self employment

This is the classic ‘helicopter drop’ demonised by Milton Friedman as inflationary. Here’s why the idea is worth looking at more deeply

The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 was essentially an enormous drop in liquidity which stopped banks lending and led to job layoffs, and decreased consumer demand, which led to more unemployment and threatened further drops in demand. A nasty downward spiral. The response of rich countries has been to make money available very cheaply to banks. However, this has not led to investment in productive enterprises. It has financed speculation, and as more money is pumped into the system, it has financed inflation in asset classes such as shares and houses.

Today the fear is that the world will become ‘trapped’ in deflation. This is meant to be bad because economists think workers will buy less bread and milk today if they believe it might be cheaper next year. It is a rubbish fear. People expect mobile phones and technology in general to become cheaper each year. That doesn’t prevent them buying phones now. Consumers, or at least those who vote Labour, buy what they can afford when they can afford it. Their list of wants/needs is bigger than their bank accounts.

So, what if, instead of printing money and giving it to banks who speculate with it themselves or lend it people who are already rich (and have shown that they will use this money to buy shares and other unproductive assets) the extra money was put into the bank accounts of workers, or even of every adult.

The Australian government tried this in 2009 when the Tax Office sent cheques to taxpayers. The cheques sent to poor people were spent! No surprise there.

The trick is to have the ‘basic wage’ spent with New Zealand businesses so the increased demand leads to jobs in New Zealand, not elsewhere.

The choice is simple – does the government give money to Aussie owned banks or to New Zealanders?!

Bill Gates is not a poster boy for capitalism, sorry Mr Hide


In a recent opinion piece for the NZ Herald Rodney Hide lauds Bill Gates as someone who has enriched the world. It’s all part of that old ‘if the rich get richer so do we all’ lie of trickle down economics.

I don’t get what’s with these former ACT leaders. Their thinking is just flimsy. Bill Gates had a good idea, and as the law stood when he had that idea, he became the wealthiest man in the world, and he misused that wealth for two decades to create and maintain an unlawful monopoly position for his company.

In New Zealand, computer programs are no longer able to be patented. This reflects the view that we don’t want another Microsoft.

The real question, and the one Mr Hide does not address is, would the world be a better place today if Bill Gates had never been born? On the one hand we can point to the pervasiveness of Microsoft products as a “good”, as Rodney Hide does. But, the problem that the Windows operating system solved would have been solved without Gates, and if that solution had been open source, where would we be now? Personal computing would be cheaper, there would be greater innovation, and a greater range of products. Overall, the net benefit to the world may have been greater in a world without Bill Gates.

Worse still for Mr Hide is that the harm done by Gates was only possible because he was born into a capitalist country that allowed computer programs to be patented.