When rugby comes into calculations, a feller called Michael Field is apt to drop the ball

The Sunday Star-Times has skated defty around a bit of conjecture about our next Governor-General that it published last week.

On its website this morning Alf found a piece by a scribe called Hubbard who says our next governor-general has risen from humble beginnings to the highest post in the land.

Alf had hoped this high post would have gone to him.

But Jerry Mateparae got the job, and Hubbard says –

Everyone who knows Mateparae uses the same words to describe him: “Modest, quiet, a gentleman.”

Hubbard could have said the same thing about Alf, if things had gone differently.

But let’s go back a week.

The SST then was reporting some stuff by a Michael Field.

NEW ZEALAND’S next governor-general could be the first All Black to fill the role – and possibly take up the post as the Rugby World Cup starts.

It looks like a prediction.

But it isn’t really, because Field (or a sub-editor) artfully used a critical weasel word.

The SST did not say a former All Black would be the next GG, or is expected to be named GG, or is tipped to be named GG. Or something like that.

Nah. He said a former All Black “could” be the next GG.

If you think hard about it, any one of us “could” have been named, except those who happen to be in slammer, maybe.

The harsh reality is that the great bulk of us would not have made it to the short list.

By saying someone “could” be the next GG, however, you cover all possibiliites.

In this case, for what it’s worth, Alf supposed Field was about to reveal that the former All Black in question would be the mighty Colin Meads.

Fence-post carrying competitions among the guests at Government House cocktail parties, or a bit of sheep shearing before a state dinner, would have cheered things up enormously.

But nah, Field said –

Sir Wilson Whineray, 76, is the pick among the Wellington establishment to take over from Sir Anand Satyanand, who ends his term in August.

If this is the same Michael Field who was living in Auckland, last time Alf checked, his understanding of what the Wellington establishment might be saying surely must be sparse.

But Field gurgled –

Within Wellington circles, Whineray’s frequent and often discreet service to the country is legendary. He is seen as a uniting figure at a time the country is suffering the trauma of the Christchurch earthquake. He has little political baggage and enjoys cross-party support.

No All Black has taken the top constitutional post, although two governors-general have lent their names to the game – the Earl of Ranfurly (1897-1904) and Lord Bledisloe (1930-35).

Appointing Whineray would also provide the opportunity of having the Rugby World Cup presented to the winning side by a legend of rugby. When New Zealand won in 1987, the trophy was presented to David Kirk by John Kendall-Carpenter, organising committee chairman.

Anyone else on Field’s list of possibilities?

Yep.

Former Commonwealth Secretary-General Sir Don McKinnon, 72, whom Labour opposes, is another contender.

He was a National Party MP from 1978 to 2000 under both Rob Muldoon and Jim Bolger. He was foreign affairs minister between 1990 and 1999, resigning to take his Commonwealth role from 1999 to 2009.

Although a government can appoint anyone, convention requires multi-party consensus. There was uproar when former National Party PM Sir Keith Holyoake became governor-general in 1977, the only former politician in the role in modern times. He was 74 at the time and was appointed for three years rather than five

And that was it.

There was no mention of Jerry, at least not in the version Alf read.

A few weeks ago Field was one of two SST scribes who reckoned New Zealand faced “the embarrassing prospect of being forced to host Fiji military coup leader Frank Bainimarama as a VIP” during the Rugby World Cup, even though he is blacklisted from entering this country.

And it’s possible Bainimarama’s convicted killer brother-in-law, Francis Kean, could also attend the tournament if he is successful in staging his own coup and takes over as chairman of the Fiji Rugby Union.

Both men would be hosted at the taxpayer’s expense, and their VIP treatment is expected to cost around $45,000. Under International Rugby Board rules, the host nation pays for two officials from each participating nation to attend.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully smartly spelled out the realities.

The Government would refuse a visa for Bainimarama during the Rugby World Cup.

He said there had been no pressure put on New Zealand by the International Rugby Board on the issue of Fiji.

“New Zealand is a sovereign nation. The Government determines who is able to enter this country,” Mr McCully said

Alf concludes from this that Michael Field is apt to drop the ball, when it comes to writing about rugby.

His advice to his constituents: if you are betting on the GG’s, take your tips from someone else.

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