Monday, September 06, 2010

ABs coaches leave earthquake damage behind
By MARC HINTON in Sydney - Stuff

The reverberations of Saturday's devastating earthquake in Canterbury are still being felt in the All Blacks on the other side of the Tasman - even if they were doing their best to keep distractions to a minimum.

Assistant coach Steve Hansen was the worst affected of the All Blacks' large contingent of Cantabrians, the assistant coach only arriving in Sydney early Monday after staying behind to deal with the devastation of his home at Tai Tapu on the outskirts of Christchurch.

No 8 Kieran Read had spoken on Monday of the drama as he and his pregnant wife Bridget were awoken by a "freaky, terrifying" experience, and many of the squad's Christchurch-based members were echoing those sentiments today as they kept close contact with loved ones left behind in the city.

But Hansen had been by far the unluckiest of the Canta-Blacks, his home rendered uninhabitable as it was significantly damaged by the quake that measured 7.1 on the Richter scale.

Hansen only joined the All Blacks in Sydney on Monday morning in time for their first main training hitout at Leichardt Oval - his late arrival forcing the New Zealanders to delay naming their team until Thursday so as to give selection matters the consideration they deserved.

Baggage man Errol 'Pos' Collins also suffered some damage to his home, as did player mentor Gilbert Enoka, while other management members such as assistant coach Wayne Smith and manager Darren Shand spoke of the unnerving experience of the quake and their own fortune in escaping with their properties unscathed.

Smith reckoned he had visions of earthquake-ravaged Haiti as he staggered about in his suburban home and Shand said it took him a while to realise what was happening as he raced around to ensure the safety of his children.

Christchurch-based All Blacks captain Richie McCaw had missed the event altogether as he had been in Auckland for the weekend when the earthquake struck.

But McCaw had subsequently received a report from his sister that his own property appeared to have escape undamaged, and was relieved about that. Not that the skipper was untouched by the incident, with his parents' home suffering at the hands of the massive tremor.

McCaw spoke for his entire team when he said it had been a miracle that there had been no loss of life through the events of the quake.

McCaw, Read, Brad Thorn, Sam Whitelock, Corey Flynn, Colin Slade and the Franks brothers Ben and Owen are the Christchurch-based All Blacks.
The situation had created an unusual scenario in the All Blacks, with plenty of buzz around about the earthquake and those affected, but most of the team feeling well removed from it all.

"We didn't even feel it down south," said Otago-based lock Tom Donnelly. "Everyone was going on about it, and I didn't even know it had happened. It's just a relief no one's been injured.
"There's a little bit of concern for families with aftershocks going on, but you're here to do a job, so we've got to get on with that."

Rookie Northland-based All Black Rene Ranger was equally oblivious to the goings-on down south when he gathered with the team on Sunday.

"We've just been asking if everybody's houses are all right," said Ranger.
Asked if he'd inquired about Hansen's ravaged property, Ranger replied: "I don't really want to ask in case it puts him down ..."

Meanwhile, Wallabies head coach, and noted Cantabrian, Robbie Deans told NZPA he'd had to make calls from South Africa to check on family after word filtered through of the situation in Christchurch.

"I checked with my son at 6am, he was pretty relaxed and not too concerned. They'll all good," Deans said after his arrival back from South Africa.

Deans was also fairly relaxed about the extensive damage suffered by the historic family homestead at Darfield, above the earthquake's epicentre. It is going to have to be rebuilt.

"There's been a fair bit of material damage but you can replace that," shrugged the Wallabies coach.

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