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Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage

The best single unit in the Wales side is the formidable back row.

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Video: The awkward All Blacks moment Jason Ryan snubbed Joe Schmidt

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

The All Blacks got their Rugby Championship title challenge back on track with a 53-3 thrashing of Argentina on Saturday, but one of the main talking points in the aftermath of the one-sided Hamilton encounter was how forwards coach Jason Ryan seemingly snubbed the handshake of attack coach Joe Schmidt. Both assistants are new to the Ian Foster management ticket.

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Ryan was parachuted in from the Crusaders when it was decided in July after the series defeat to Ireland to axe John Plumtree. Schmidt, meanwhile, came on board after that series loss as a selector in place of Grant Fox but he has since been elevated into a hands-on coaching role, the NZR deciding his talents would be best used in this way.

Both coaches were involved in their first match together in the coaches’ box last weekend when the All Blacks were ambushed by the Pumas in Christchurch, heaping further pressure on the beleaguered Foster whom the NZR have backed as the boss through to the 2023 World Cup finals in France.

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That 25-18 defeat, the sixth loss for the All Blacks in eight matches, had a galvanising on-pitch effect as New Zealand hit back to steamroll the Argentinians with a seven-try performance at Waikato Stadium. This welcome victory should have been a cause for an all-round celebration.

However, some All Blacks fans have suggested that relations might be strained amongst the rejigged management judging by how the seated Ryan turned around to shake hands, engaging with a fellow staffer but ignoring the outstretched hand of Schmidt. Ryan turned his attention back to the last seconds of the action in the match, leaving the ex-Ireland boss hanging and reacting with a smile as he patted Ryan on the back before moving away.

When the All Blacks were beaten by the Springboks in Mbombela at the start of the Rugby Championship the widespread speculation was that Scott Robertson, the serial title-winning coach at the Crusaders, would soon be announced as the new head coach of the New Zealand national team. However, the All Blacks bounced back with a win over the world champions the following week in Johannesburg.

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That victory was followed a few days later by the NZR green-lighting Foster to remain on as head coach through to next year’s finals in France and they also rubber-stamped the appointment of Schmidt as an assistant coach.

This decision has now likely left Schmidt in pole position to succeed Foster as All Blacks head coach rather than Robertson, who has signalled his ambitions to work overseas post the expiry of his Crusaders contract in 2023 if he doesn’t get the All Blacks job.

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RUGBYPASS+ Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage Where Warren Gatland's Wales are poised to do the most damage
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