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'Belief won't save his job' - How NZ media is reacting to All Blacks loss

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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In a country already in the throes of a sporting crisis, the All Blacks one-sided defeat in Nelspruit has ratcheted up the temperature in New Zealand rugby circles another notch this weekend.

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The 26-10 loss was Ian Foster’s fifth in six games, the first times the All Blacks have lost three on the trot since 1998.

It was the worst margin of defeat suffered at the hands of the Springboks in 94 years.

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Coming off the back of what is seen domestically as an unacceptable tour loss to Ireland in July, it bodes badly for Foster’s viability as head coach coming into a World Cup year.

Gregor Paul of the New Zealand Herald believes ‘all hope’ is lost for the current NZ coaching ticket’. “If Ireland cracked the All Blacks, South Africa certainly broke them and any hope, however forlorn, that a recovery is possible under this coaching regime has surely gone… It’s time to ring Scott Robertson, tell him to be waiting with his hand-picked assistants and for him and Jason Ryan to get on with rebuilding a legacy that is in danger of being horribly tainted if there is not definitive action taken.”

Also writing in the NZ Herald, Liam Napier “In their defining hour, their day of reckoning, the All Blacks barely fired a shot… It wasn’t the All Blacks were intimidated. It wasn’t they were caught off guard, either. The Boks stuck to their unimaginative kick-heavy, forward-dominated blueprint and executed it to perfection. The All Blacks knew it was coming – and still had few answers.”

Marc Hinton, writing in Stuff, observed that Foster’s reign hangs ‘by a thread’. “…it is impossible to imagine that the loss column doesn’t get another tick in it next week. With it, Foster’s tenure will surely be over, and someone more equipped to lead this struggling side brought in,” wrote Hinton. “This was a limited, painful and at times gormless performance from an All Blacks side that has completely lost its mojo, its confidence, its rhythm and, to be frank, its wherewithal.”

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Jamie Wall – writing for RNZ – likened the current national side to open, infected wound. “Here we go again. Another All Black loss in 2022, the third in four tests, another week of mounting pressure on the coaching staff and the people that put them there. The 26-10 loss to the Springboks in Mbolemba was another extension of the gaping wound that is the national side, now festering with pus and infection, stinking to high heaven of defeat and desperation…As if it wasn’t already, this is a serious crisis that is only going to get worse before it gets better.”

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It wasn’t all negative. Paul Cully, writing for Stuff, observed that the pack had improved under new forwards coach Jason Ryan: ‘The All Blacks forwards got into good positions early, and by the end of the first half South Africa were forced to run off the back of the maul due to a lack of momentum.’

New Zealand voices on Twitter weren’t much kinder.

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RugbyPass’ own Ben Smith wrote: “When bad teams are on a losing run, they often simply keep losing. Desire and motivation doesn’t mean anything here. These All Blacks are bad, if that wasn’t clear already. Ugly, ugly end to the Hansen era unfolding: they tried to keep the whole band together. Many of these players would have been moved on by selectors in years gone by, but Foster is loyal to a fault. The NZ public will tolerate losses if they play well, but losing and playing progressively worse cannot be stomached. Winning is one thing, but poor rugby is another altogether.”

Newshub’s Ollie Ritchie suggest that Foster simply ‘has to go’. “There’s been a lot of talk about the belief… Unfortunately for [All Blacks coach] Ian Foster, belief won’t save his job.”

The All Blacks have another shot at redemption next week in Ellis Park but the question now is will Foster survive that long.

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