Former Green Party list candidate David Hay will challenge Steve Hansen for the job of All Blacks coach.
Hansen has just coached the All Blacks through an unbeaten season, and during his two years in charge the team has suffered only one loss.
But Hay says the team is not performing, and that it is time for a change.
“We should be on top of the world,” said Hay. “Things may look rosy on paper, and some people are talking about this being the best All Blacks team ever. But we’re heading in the wrong direction. Our opponents are pushing hard, and the team’s response has been unimaginative: just keep winning.
“Winning every game has become predictable, and it’s not doing the team’s players or supporters any good.”
Hay said that a first-past-the-post philosophy was dominating the team’s culture, and that it would ultimately damage the All Blacks brand.
“They should be looking for opportunities to work collaboratively with other teams, but instead their approach is to stifle, dominate, and overwhelm.
“Look at what they did to the Irish team. They had the opportunity to accommodate the Irish by giving them a win, but at the very last minute they snatched the game away. This speaks to me of a leadership team that cannot see the bigger picture.
“Steve Hansen has to go. His entire coaching team should step down.”
Hay said he did not know how much support he had within the All Blacks.
“Look, I haven’t spoken to any of the players,” said Hay. “But I can imagine how they must feel. I’m confident I’ll have their support.”
New Zealand Rugby Union CEO Steve Tew said Hansen’s job was safe, and that there were no plans to replace the coach.
“Steve’s done an amazing job,” said Tew. “We’re absolutely delighted with the work he has done.”
But Hay is not ready to give up on his challenge.
“I’m calling on every rugby player in this country to go on strike,” said Hay. “If every player refuses to play, then the NZRU will have no choice but to listen.”
Hay has also announced plans to leave the Greens and form a new political party with former National Party MP Aaron Gilmore.
“Aaron and I have a lot in common,” said Hay. “We’ve really hit it off, and we agree on so many things.
“There’s only one thing we can’t decide on. Which one of us should be Prime Minister?”