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'A load of bollocks': Justin Marshall on the All Blacks' inconsistencies

By Ned Lester
Ian Foster looks on at All Blacks training at Murrayfield. Photo by Ross Parker/SNS Group via Getty Images

Ex-All Black Justin Marshall has asked some significant questions of Ian Foster as the All Blacks head coach continues to trial new game plans and starting lineups throughout the Northern Tour.

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The All Blacks named what appeared to be Foster’s top team against Wales two weeks ago but then issued nine changes for the Scotland test, including one debutant in Mark Telea and the return of TJ Perenara, who along with Brad Weber, has found himself cycling into the squad from the All Blacks XV.

Foster was determined to build his combinations throughout The Rugby Championship, naming as close to the same side as injuries allowed each week but that philosophy appears to have been left at the departure lounge.

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“The tinkering just continually confuses me,” Marshall said. “I feel that there’s a semblance of a game plan one week and then it changes for some reason.

“The All Blacks went to a lot different type of kicking strategy to try beat Scotland’s defence – they’re a very good defensive side Scotland, in fact, they’re in the top three in the world at the moment on their tackle percentage ratio.

“So, the All Blacks maybe thought that they wouldn’t be able to go through them as much as what they went through Wales, but I sort of thought this is reverting again to a different type of game plan.”

The All Blacks deployed different game plans against each of their Rugby Championship opponents, using any and all of their four kicking threats (Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, David Havili and Jordie Barrett) depending on the defensive structures being thrown their way.

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“Instinctively, I’ve always banged this drum, we want to use the ball where we can,” Marshall continued.

“There’s still a few things that are not quite right to me.

“Certainly, there’s been progress, I certainly feel that individuals seem better in the current culture so the tweaks and changes he’s made within the coaching group have obviously made a difference because certain individuals are playing a lot better which helps.

“But, look it’s far from the finished product yet, I feel there’s been improvements but I still feel that there’s something not quite right in there that the All Blacks are certainly not a team that people are seeing at the moment as the team to beat come Rugby World Cup… and every weekend.”

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Ex-All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen had appeared on the show the day prior, expressing support for Ian Foster’s selections and emphasising the importance of giving different players time on the field ahead of next year’s World Cup.

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Marshall had no hesitations in sharing his thoughts on Hansen’s comments.

“yeah, look that’s Steve Hansen’s opinion. I know him well and I’d be happy to have a beer at the pub with him and tell him that I think that’s a load of bollocks, to be perfectly honest.

“I’m not sure whether he’s saying that because he’s trying to defend some of Fozzies (Ian Foster’s) decisions because he knows him well, but I certainly don’t feel that the All Blacks are doing themselves any favours by continually changing and changing ten players or eight players whatever it might be.

“Good sides don’t do that. Super (Rugby) sides don’t do that from week to week just in case they’re not going to have players available, they simply put the players out there.

“They formulate a winning culture and they get stuck in.

“These players have got to be able to play three, four World Cup games, big ones, on the bounce.

“So, I’m not all about preservation I’m not about finding out, if you don’t know by now then the horse has bolted, unfortunately.”

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Comments

26 Comments
r
ross 564 days ago

I recall growing up when NZ were great and Aus were consistently competitive and at times even better than the ABs. The most consistent thing about their consistently good performances was consistency. Interestingly, when the Boks went on their world record equaling unbeaten run, selection was consistent until the game they lost.

The same consistency of selection is pretty much true of Ireland, France and SA today. There is both consistency of selection and appears to be common understanding of the top few players in every position - a clear pecking order. That doesn’t appear to be the case for NZ or England. With their talent, perhaps explains why they are #4 and #5 in the world. Sport as in business, selecting and managing the right talent consistently well is game changing.

r
ron 564 days ago

Been saying the same thing since 2019…. Put your best team out starting every week!
Second half depending on score, flow swap and experiment.
The starting 15 should know who they are, feel comfortable and know those coming on to replace a playing for their position.
Injury’s as we saw in 2011 play a part and those players simply need to step up

M
Mark 572 days ago

We all knew Foster rode on his m8 Steve's coattails. He's lucky he had a smart m8 or he'd be coaching under 10's, maybe. Foster should be dismissed asap even with such a short time till the world cup. We have the best coaching talent in the world so what is the fukn problem.

P
Pete 574 days ago

Strange to compare super rugby teams to international teams striving for a world cup. How many world cups have been won by super rugby teams... 0.
It's a completely different competition requiring a different style of game. Dumb comparison.
Rest and rotation was brought in how long ago? It's just the way of the world in pro rugby. You have to build depth because you have no control over who gets injured and you don't want someone making their debut in a world cup final.
Priorities! The northern tour is down a bit on our list.
1st priority is the world cup. 2nd Bledisloe. 3rd rugby championship. 4th home series. 5th northern hemisphere tour.
It's obvious when is the right time to blood players and try things out.

L
Lynn 576 days ago

Justin, you're just as bad a 'selector' as you're a commentator.
How many teams have you coached?
How many cups have you won?
You always know better than the coaches, the other commentators and the officials.
You argue constantly with Sir John Kirwan.
If Steve Hansen and Sir Graham Henry agree with the current coach and his staff ahead of another RWC, who are you to berate them? Wind your neck in and try to be a better commentator if we're going to have to put up with you on Sky.

W
Walter 577 days ago

agree totally with Justin...you don't change half the team from one game to another, especially not one year out from the WC, when consistency is of upmost importance!!! It proves that Foster is just not the right man for the job, sorry!!!

M
Michael 577 days ago

Hansen constantly tries to back his successor even when the successor was floundering - Hansen backed him after last years failed EOYT and he backed him after the Irish series - why??!

Simple he doesn’t want the AB to succeed post his failure in the Lions series and RWC19

S
Shayne 577 days ago

Play best team every week, rotation has never worked. Midfield is our biggest problem .Suits need to give whayne Smith a fat one year contract to save us.

r
rod 578 days ago

You could play every game on this Northern tour with the same players, but there is a distinctive shift from Foster this year. Normally the ABs want to win every game they play but they blooded a load of players this year obviously looking to next years WC ! Justin Marshall is a diehard Canterbury man & any chance he has to criticise the present coach he will because he is gutted that Razor isn’t in the mix. The ABs are not on the radar for 2023 & that’s a position they will be happy about!

E
Emery Ambrose 578 days ago

I fully understand where he’s coming from but I think the 3 coach’s have worked together to come up with a plan to win 7 games in 7 weeks, getting at least 25 players ready to start in any game and being able to change in and out week to week and keep form. It’s just we are lacking like for like players so be struggle to keep the same game plan.
Reminds me of 07 a bit with some tweaks.

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