The first edition of the Tuesday Morning QB is brought to you by Liam Squire’s haircut.
Having contributed mightily to the All Blacks’ thumping Bledisloe Cup victory, how could it not be?
The growth on the back of the Highlanders flanker’s head has been the subject of curiosity before, but Saturday night was the first time what appears to be a half-mullet, half-Special Victims Unit Palmerston North fusion got on the scoresheet in its own right.
It might seem presumptuous to credit Squire’s opening try entirely to his rough head, but it’s doubtful Michael Cheika and the Wallabies brains trust would argue the point.
Bad haircuts was perhaps the one area in which Australia could claim to have held parity with New Zealand in recent times and, with Kurtley Beale restored to the line-up, they must have been confident of asserting some dominance in the follicle foibles field on Saturday night.
Imagine the shock, then, when they spotted the SVUllett tearing down the sideline in the opening minutes of the contest. No wonder the chasers appeared rooted to the spot.
This column firmly believes Squire’s dodgy barnet should also be credited with at least three try assists – that being the number of five-pointers the All Blacks ran in before most Kiwi households had completed their discussions about a head job my wife reliably informs me is “a disaster from every conceivable angle”.
While Steve Hansen and his minions will doubtless be reflecting on their selectorial masterstroke, it’s back to the drawing board for poor old grumpy trousers Cheika, who would have expected significantly better from a line-up containing three afros.
Cheika – whose major achievement as Wallabies coach has been the perfection of the male version of Resting Bitch Face (provisionally patented as DIC – Disgusted, Irate, Calamity-Face) – has the countenance of a man who has been permanently, grievously wronged. As he has.
The notion that an Australian national rugby team drawn from Super clubs that collectively couldn’t manage a single victory over the Blues, and that lost to Scotland and struggled to subdue Italy, would be a match for the All Blacks in any facet (including grooming), was monstrously optimistic.
Judging Cheika in that context simply isn’t fair. Cheika’s Wallabies deserve the same amount of sympathy and condescension that we extend to all the other minnow nations. This inequality needs to end.
Speaking of inequality, the All Blacks played with such freedom and lack of inhibition on Saturday night that, in a bygone era, the expression “gay abandon” would have been applicable. Sadly, in a less innocent time, when the rampant heterosexuality that runs through the squad is squarely in the public eye, that phrase has never seemed more past its use-by date.
There’s an interesting thing going on here with the in-depth coverage spewing forth out of Australia of Jerome Kaino and Aaron Smith’s illicit liaisons – and it’s not to be found in the sordid detail emanating from hotel rooms and disabled toilets.
With the reportage of both affairs emanating from Australia’s Daily Mail, the longstanding British tradition of chequebook journalism appears to have finally caught up with our national rugby team.
For those not initiated with the process, it involves news organisations paying people – often spurned lovers or underpaid escorts – to dish the dirt on celebrities.
While it’s possible the rehash of Aaron Smith’s toilet tryst and the revelations that Kaino’s hard man persona extends beyond the pitch are motivated by wounded parties simply seeking to right the wrongs of public perception, that does seem unlikely.
The Mail’s reportage that Smith’s acquaintance was motivated by anger over the public perception of her as being a less easy sexual conquest than she really is doesn’t really bare scrutiny given that her identity had not been publicly revealed.
As for Kaino’s alleged illicit other, her claims that she was angered after discovering the flanker was married with kids doesn’t really stack up either. Had she mysteriously been denied access to Google in recent years, and found nothing odd about being whisked in and out of hotels in the dead of night, things might be different.
The alternative scenario is that a British tabloid with a long and undistinguished history of paying for dirt on celebrities is using the same playbook to make a splash in the Aussie – and potentially New Zealand – markets.
The impact of that will be felt by prominent Kiwis and their fans alike. Chances are we are about to learn more about some of our stars peccadilloes than many of us would like – and definitely more than the athletes will be comfortable sharing.
The less salacious of us may very soon find ourselves pining for the time when the most shocking thing revealed over a sporting weekend was attached to back of a player’s head.