George George, who played for the team in the 1970s and 1980s and coached in the 90s, was irate when he rang CINews on Monday morning, branding Friday’s loss as one of the worst he’s ever seen.
“This was one of my saddest days watching the Cook Islands play rugby,” George said, “it’s embarrassing, the result, because we have never lost to Tahiti before this match.
“Now we are always going to have that mark against our record, all because some players weren’t brave enough to put on their country before themselves.
“Not even to cross the try line, against a country that we have put 90 points on before is especially shameful.”
Known as “The General” since his playing days, George said he wanted it to be known that he thought those players who should have been playing but weren’t were the real problem, not those who participated.
“I don’t blame the boys who played on Friday, or the coaches. They worked with what they had. I even congratulate the real young boys who put their hands up to wear the jersey, that’s real pride.”
George would not name specific players or individuals he believed were to blame for the loss, but did say he believed there were a number of local players who did not put their hands up.
“When I played, everyone wanted to play for their country. It was the highest honour for a local rugby player. Nowadays, I’m not sure what the current priorities are.
“I know that after the game people were quick to point the blame at Walter (Tangata, the coach), or the rugby board, but they are pointing in the wrong direction.”