Roosters coach Trent Robinson has praised Matildas counterpart Tony Gustavsson for not disclosing Sam Kerr’s calf injury 24 hours before Australia’s World Cup campaign opener, arguing it was a tactical advantage to keep Ireland guessing.
Gustavsson was criticised for fronting a media conference on Wednesday with Kerr where they didn’t mention the injury, only for the public to find out 90 minutes before the game against Ireland.
The setback didn’t cost Australia in the end as they held on for a 1-0 win in front of more than 75,000 fans, although they’ll need to sort out their misfiring attack, with Kerr already ruled out of the next match with Nigeria.
“I want to say I hope you respect and understand the reason when I sat here yesterday that I couldn’t speak openly about it, so I hope there’s an understanding of that,” Gustavsson said on Thursday night.
“At that point of time, we didn’t know 100 per cent what it was and we were waiting for a result of a scan.
“Last night (Wednesday) we had a meeting and that’s where I got the exact news of what it was.
“Sam is a massive part of Ireland’s game plan as you can understand, and we didn’t want to give that away in advance.”
Robinson went through something similar in 2018 when grand final week was dominated by speculation over whether champion halfback Cooper Cronk would play.
The veteran playmaker had a serious shoulder injury that required needles for him to play, with most people assuming he would be ruled out.
Cronk was named in the No.23 jersey with Mitch Aubusson originally listed at halfback, but he ended up playing and helped the Roosters overpower the Storm for the first of their two back-to-back titles.
Robinson was criticised at the time for not keeping the public updated with Cronk’s injury status, but he doubled down on Friday morning, saying that coaches and clubs are not slaves to the gambling industry and SuperCoach players who demand this sort of information.
Asked about whether the Matildas should have let the world know, Robinson replied: “What, so betting markets can be changed?”
“There was a bit written about it at the time, but it’s not going to change people turning up,” Robinson said.
“The objective of a coach is to win a game – other people might have a difference of opinion, – but our job is to create intrigue and guessing in the opposition.
“Showing your cards days and weeks before a game is giving a bit of a tip sheet to the opposition, so I’ve got no issue (with what the Matildas did).
“People wouldn’t have turned up if they found out? People wouldn’t have watched?
“The coach’s job for Australia is to win the game, and if that was a tactical advantage so Australia could win the game, then I think we’re happy with that as Australians rather than having the knowledge hours before that Sam wasn’t playing.”
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