Opinion: Why no criticism of Key, the All Blacks fanboy?

John Key nestled in with some All Blacks on the cover of the Rugby News magazine last year
John Key nestled in with some All Blacks on the cover of the Rugby News magazine last year

John Key is taking his role as All Black fanboy-in Chief to an all new level by attending the selection of the All Blacks World Cup team on Sunday.

Many people probably see this as a bit weird just like that three-way handshake.

But even weirder is that not a single politician is prepared criticise Key for it - not even Winston Peters.

It is like it is a capital crime to criticise rugby in this country, and that's why the Rugby World Cup has caused a bad case of political paralysis.

Booze laws allowing 24-hour drinking just passed with barely a whisper of opposition because of the three magic words "Rugby World Cup". Hell, even the virtuous Greens are scared of criticising rugby.

No politician dare bag anything to do with Richie and the boys for fear of a backlash from 'rugby-mad New Zealand'.

Andrew Little certainly can't take a hit at Key over going to the selection at Parliament on Sunday - he is going himself.

Little is as desperate for a photo with Richie McCaw as Key is.

The reality is that greasing up the All Blacks is the Kiwi political version of kissing babies.

In fact, Little is probably jealous of the relationship that Key has fostered with the All Blacks.

The All Black halfback Aaron Smith said Key was "awesome" when told he was coming on Sunday.

Key knows he cops a bit of flak for hanging with the ABs but out in rugby-mad New Zealand it goes down a treat.

He is not even going to get teased about it because his rival politicians are too busy crying, 'Stop the political world! The Rugby World Cup is coming!'

Now this rugby-caused political paralysis may seem like a bit of a joke, but it does have its problems - like with the World Cup booze laws.

This was meant to correct an anomaly that saw pubs shut when the All Blacks and finals were on.

Yet as my story showed last night, changes to the law now allows for pubs to open for every game, allowing for 24-hour drinking, or even up to 69 hours straight. As I said, even the Greens flip-flopped to get it to this stage.

It is actually bad law-making. Publicans have scored an intercept try and won't believe their luck. Pubs drove a Trojan horse with 'RWC' on the side of it through the doors of Parliament.

If MPs believe that publicans who have spent lifetimes pushing liquor laws to the limit aren't going to find a way to make United States versus Japan work out in their favour, then they are more stupid than I thought.

But hey, it is to do with the Rugby World Cup, so MPs are thinking better not criticise it - just pass the law.

I love my rugby as much as anyone. With the Rugby World Cup just weeks away now, there is a simple message that politicians should remember: "It's only rugby".

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