rugby union

Slumping All Blacks face Argentina as fans lose patience

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By STEVE McMORRAN

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Argentina played great last weekend and deserved the win. But:

That's shifted the mood of fans from denial, anger and depression to acceptance.

Denial? No. All Blacks supporters are not backwards in coming forwards with criticism of the team after a loss(es), and suggestions of what went wrong. Hint: It's always the ref. Anger and depression maybe, but a better word for acceptance would be despair (used elsewhere in the article, to be fair). The rugby public of New Zealand has identified and been calling for changes to selections and positions since at least the semi-final loss to England at World Cup 2019, maybe even as far back as the drawn British and Irish Lions tour in 2017.

A couple of these changes were made (at 10 and in the front row) before the second test in South Africa, which they won. Unfortunately, they didn't work so well last weekend against Argentina, although Foster brought on replacements too early, in my opinion.

At present, the biggest problem is that you have probably their best player, Ardie Savea, playing out of position at eight when he should be playing in his specialist position, seven. The reason he is playing out of position is to preserve captain Sam Cane's place in the squad. Cane hasn't been performing well in that position for quite a while now, and his captaincy skills aren't particularly good either.

Furthermore, Rieko Ioane plays much better on the wing, but he's managed to convince Foster that he's needed at his preferred position in the centres. If he knew how to pass, he'd have a point but all he does is run lines in the wing's channel, leaving no space for the final pass to the actual winger.

And speaking of wingers, Caleb Clarke is fantastic on attack but a turn-style on defence. Sevu Reece is also fantastic on attack (just ask his partner) and his defence is much better than Clarke's. He gets lots of turnovers at the breakdown, too.

They also need to develop someone else at ten because neither Beauden Barrett nor Ritchie Mo'unga seem to be the answer there. Perofeta looks promising, and he is in the squad, but he got exactly 50 seconds last week in a game that was already lost.

In addition to that, Jordan Barrett is a better centre than he is a fullback, but he's not played there, and Will Jordan is a better fullback than he is a wing, but he's played at wing to keep Barrett at fullback.

Finally, New Zealand Rugby have now had three chances to make the biggest and most important change - the head coach - at least three times now. After the two losses in Europe last year, after the lost Irish series, and after mixed results in South Africa. But no, they're content to keep scratching at the walls of failure with sandpaper when they need to smash them down with a mallet.

Well, that was cathartic. Can't wait for tomorrow. Go All Blacks!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

It was good win for Argentina who stepped up from being a 60 minute side the full 80.

And I'm pleased for Cheika - a passionate transparent coach who was mocked by the NZ media a few years ago.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

And I'm pleased for Cheika - a passionate transparent coach who was mocked by the NZ media a few years ago.

That was just stupid from the NZ media. They did the same thing to Gatland, drawing him with clown make-up. Who's laughing now, I wonder.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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