‘Have to be confident’: Why the All Blacks have an edge before the World Cup
Playing against Ireland in a three-match series in July, the All Blacks started their 2022 season with a big win over Andy Farrell’s men at the fortress that is Eden Park.
But a week is a long time in Test rugby. The Irish beat the All Blacks for the first time in New Zealand a week later, and repeated that feat in the series decider.
It was the All Blacks’ fifth series loss ever on New Zealand soil, and they succumbed to back-to-back home defeats for the first time since 1998. To say it was disastrous would be an understatement.
On a newly rereleased docuseries on NZR+, playmaker Beauden Barrett summed up the defeat by saying, “It’s not like someone’s died but it’s probably the next worst thing.”
But the All Blacks are a force to be reckoned with once again. With just one more Test to play before the World Cup, New Zealand will be looking to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches against South Africa.
This team look like the All Blacks of old – a confident team who are capable of some stunning rugby – and that gives them an edge going into the World Cup.
“I think that it’s a well-tested group,” coach Ian Foster told reporters. “It’s a group that’s gone through a lot of adversity.
“In the past, we’ve gone into World Cups feeling perhaps where we get tested in adversity is at the World Cup. Winning one out of seven away World Cups reflects that as a country.
“We have to be confident. We’ve gone through adversity, this group has stayed tight, they’ve figured out solutions.
“They’re really growing in confidence in how they lead themselves on the park and how they play.
“We’re confident we’ve prepared as well as we can. You go into World Cups and know everything is week by week.
“Hopefully you’ve had that message from us anyway, that’s how we’ve been approaching this year.”
The All Blacks flew out of New Zealand on Friday afternoon ahead of their crunch clash with the World Champion Springboks at Twickenham next weekend.
But before flying out of the country, coach Foster made sure to thank all the fans who had supported the All Blacks this year.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support, the last month has been unreal,” Foster added.
“The amount of support we’ve got from the country going around, the time in Napier was special, it had a big impact on this team, kept us grounded.
“(I’m) grateful for the chances we’ve been given and the adversity other people are going through.
“We just want to do them proud.”