Best place to push players is away from the spotlight
I don't know Jason personally, but what I can take from his sacking is that he is a man who lives and dies by the sword - his opinion.
Brendan Cannon's comments towards Peter de Villiers, although harmless, sent shockwaves through the Springboks camp, and generated enough noise to provoke an apology. That's the beauty and harsh nature of the media.
But expressing an opinion on a player is the most delicate matter of all. It's a challenge that all coaches face. How do I get the best out of that player without hurting them or the team? Using the press can be difficult, some have mastered it, while others don't have to, which is an art in itself.
Robbie Deans and Graham Henry are among the very few that don't. These coaches are very much on similar parallels in ensuring their message is clear and precise, while protecting their greatest assets and still getting the best out of them.
If you watch either of them being interviewed, they are professionals at making sure they don't put their foot in it. One misinterpretation can create a completely different presentation. As we have seen with other coaches (should I say de Villiers?), imagine the devastation that would follow if Deans or Henry put their stars on notice at a press conference. It would be a media frenzy and it would take weeks for the team to get back on course.
They don't single out any particular players, their efforts or form with words, but introduce a little thing called ''healthy competition''.
Henry started about 12 months ago with some of his All Blacks. Mils Muliaina has seen the emergence of plenty of stars all capable of wearing the All Blacks' No.15 jumper like Cory Jane and Israel Dagg.
What this has done is create a healthy nursery for a player to be the best they can possibly be. The result? Mils has stripped back a few kilograms and produced some devastating rugby at the end of a white-hot All Blacks back line.
The same with Tony Woodcock, who has been New Zealand's loosehead prop for many years. But this year Henry did not guarantee him a spot in the starting XV, or even the 22 following the arrival of the Franks brothers at the beginning of New Zealand's international season. Woodcock has had to work hard to get back into the run-on side and looks leaner and meaner.
Piri Weepu falls into the same category. Although he started against the Springboks through the injury to Jimmy Cowan, he still had to work extremely hard to bypass players such as the Blues' Alby Mathewson and the Crusaders' Andy Ellis. Would Weepu have been the player he was against South Africa if he was daylight in front of all No.9s in New Zealand?
So let's apply this method to our Wallabies stars. Nathan Sharpe's international career appeared over in 2009 with Deans's selection of James Horwill and Dean Mumm as Wallabies locks. The result: Sharpe played out of his skin for the Western Force in 2010 and is playing the best rugby of his career, at the age of 32.
Anthony Faingaa could turn Matt Giteau into the player he never thought he could be, too. Would he improve if the coach or some Wallabies legends in the media put him on notice through the press? Maybe. But most probably not.
Then the most talked-about comeback of all, Drew Mitchell. Getting left out of the Wallabies squad and returning through injury, Mitchell worked overtime on his game. Would Mitchell have pushed himself if he was granted a walk-up start?
There is no question my best season was when Tatafu Polota-Nau joined the Waratahs.
Let's hope Deans can continue to find ways of pushing the Wallabies without 'Akermanising' himself in the press.
Two coaches, two nations. Same nationality, same applications in achieving the best from their men.
Who has the better timing? This will be on show in Melbourne on Saturday night. Bring on the Bledisloe.