23 Dec 2015

Rowing NZ-Tonks stand-off could be resolved today

10:10 am on 23 December 2015

A resolution to the stand-off between Rowing New Zealand and leading coach Dick Tonks is expected to be announced today.

New Zealand rowing coach Dick Tonks.

New Zealand rowing coach Dick Tonks. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Up until last week, Tonks was coaching reigning Olympic and world champion single sculls champion Mahe Drysdale and the women's world champion double of Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane.

However Rowing New Zealand was unhappy with Tonks coaching a Chinese crew as well and demanded he stop doing so otherwise his contract with them would be terminated.

Tonks stood his ground saying he was done with Rowing New Zealand as they "couldn't run a corner dairy".

That left Drysdale and the women's double high and dry, with no coach only eight months out from the Rio Olympics.

Tonks and Rowing New Zealand weren't talking, leaving Drysdale and his manager to act as intermediaries.

After much to-ing and fro-ing a resolution has seemingly been found and Drysdale will continue his programme with Tonks.

But he will have little, if anything, to do with Rowing New Zealand.

Drysdale freely admitted his relationship with Tonks was testy.

But, they're not there to become friends: they want medals.

Rowing New Zealand would prefer to wash its hands of Tonks altogether but for the sake of Drysdale it is prepared to come up with some kind of workable solution.

But don't expect Tonks be part of the New Zealand Olympic team. He will be blacklisted.

He will be able to work with Drysdale at Lake Karapiro but he won't be alongside him at any of the major overseas regattas.

The biggest question though is the matter of trust. Can Drysdale trust Tonks not to 'up oars' and walk away again?

The answer is no.

Eight months out from the Rio Olympics Tonks showed he was prepared to walk away and leave Drysdale to his own devices.

Who's to say in three or four months time Tonks and Rowing New Zealand won't have another falling out?

Be under no illusion the relationship between Tonks and Drysdale is not built on friendship.

Drysdale admits the fact Tonks was prepared to walk away from coaching him has been difficult to take.

But Drysdale is adamant Tonks gets the best out of him and he's prepared to put up with and cope with the associated problems their relationship has.

Drysdale is confident he could defend his London gold medal with another coach but its Tonks, that manages to drive him further.

It's a strange relationship and trying to pick it a part to understand why it works is probably not healthy. Psychologists and relationship counsellors would probably

Given what's happened though their must be a nagging doubt at the back of Drysdale mind as to whether he can have complete faith in Tonks and does Tonks have his best interests at heart?

The evidence would suggest not.

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