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'I don't actually mind if they lose some test matches'

By Sam Smith
Beauden Barrett of the All Blacks looks dejected after losing the 2020 Tri-Nations rugby match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Argentina Los Pumas at Bankwest Stadium on November 14, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

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As the All Blacks named their squad for The Rugby Championship after playing relatively easier opposition in Tonga and Fiji over July, the panel on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown discussed the importance for this team to go through adversity.

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Ex-All Black John Kirwan even went as far as saying he wouldn’t mind seeing the All Blacks lose some test matches, in order to be tested ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

“I don’t actually mind if they lose some test matches, I don’t think it’s healthy to get to the World Cup without really being tested and learning,” he said.

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John Kirwan on whether TJ Perenara is ready | The Breakdown

“It was interesting about what Fozzy said about last year they were really criticised but they bought home the Cups that they wanted.

“I actually don’t mind that, we want competition.

“If we can get through to the next World Cup and win it, it’s because we’ve been through adversity.”

The side arguably already has been pressured in Foster’s first year as head coach, ending their six test matches with just three wins as they conceded losses to the Pumas and Wallabies, while drawing with the Australians once.

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Kirwan and rest of The Breakdown panel agreed that Ian Foster has adapted well in his second year at the helm after last year’s challenging season, and noticed his approach has changed with dealing with the ever-present noise.

“It’s the second most important job in the country, right? There’s always going to be noise.

“If it’s not Razor breathing down your neck, you win by 15-points and it’s not a good performance. It’s just the way it goes in this country,” Kirwan explained.

“All of us know the game well enough to have an opinion on it, we don’t have to coach it, he does.

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“I actually like the way he’s going about it this time.”

Kirwan said the approach to the playing style still needs to be determined, but the key thing is dealing with the pressure of the knockout matches. He believed the side was surprised with the ‘intensity’.

“Did we get outmuscled in the World Cup last time? And are we just going to go and try and out-muscle this time or are we just going to try run around them and react better to the pressure?

“It was a bit like that first Fijian test, when you look at that semi-final, we got a bit surprised with the intensity. I remember McCaw saying, or even Foster, it’s like going up Mt Everest three times.”

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'I don't actually mind if they lose some test matches'

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