British rugby critic has dig at All Blacks and Foster

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Nov 2021, 2:14PM
(Photo / Photosport)
(Photo / Photosport)

British rugby critic has dig at All Blacks and Foster

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Mon, 29 Nov 2021, 2:14PM

British rugby critic Stephen Jones is predicting a swift end to Ian Foster's tenure as All Blacks coach if the side's losing streak extends any further. 

After losses to both Ireland and France to end a gruelling stretch of almost three months on the road, the microscope of many pundits has been focussed on the All Blacks as part of a range of season reviews. 

Jones, writing in his column for the Sunday Times, praised the impressive performances of the Irish and French before posing the question of whether the All Blacks were now out of the mix when it comes to the best sides in the world. 

His answer was to put the losses into the perspective of the side's rich winning history while seeing a ruthless end to Foster's reign if winning-traditions are not soon restored. 

"It is something to cherish for them when their most disastrous losing run extends not back into the mists of time, but for only two games. 

"But should that losing run continue much longer there is no way that the All Blacks will wait as long in turfing out their head coach Ian Foster, the man with the hidden personality, as did Manchester United in dispatching Ole Gunnar Solskjaer." 

Jones' dig at Foster's temperament follows on from his assessment of Foster being a questionable appointment as All Blacks head coach in December 2019. 

"Foster has been a dutiful member of Hansen's back room but has negligible experience outside the hothouse of New Zealand rugby. Certainly, in profile he is minuscule on the global stage," Jones said in the Sunday Times. 

Fellow English columnist and former British & Irish Lions coach Ian McGeechan agreed in his season wrap that Foster and the All Blacks are under a lot of pressure right now; but backed the side to quickly return to form. 

"You cannot judge the All Blacks on the basis of an autumn campaign in which they were clearly running on fumes. At their best, New Zealand still play a brand of rugby to which the rest can only aspire," McGeechan wrote in the Daily Telegraph. 

"Outgunned by Ireland and France, Ian Foster has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He also needs to settle on a first-choice balanced midfield." 

Finally, John Westerby, also writing for the Sunday Times predicted plenty of turbulence to come for Foster as he attempts to build the team towards another World Cup campaign. 

"Since Foster stepped up from his role as assistant to Steve Hansen after the 2019 World Cup, this is the second time that the All Blacks have suffered back-to-back defeats, losing to Australia and Argentina on consecutive weekends last year. 

"Before that, the All Blacks had not lost two in a row since 2011, hence the protracted discussions that can now be expected over the direction the team are taking. Foster's bosses at New Zealand Rugby do not have a history of knee-jerk reactions, but Scott Robertson, the charismatic coach of Crusaders, the serial Super Rugby champions, has plenty of supporters. 

"Questions will be asked of whether Foster has moved the side forward sufficiently since taking charge. Indeed, any lack of progress would raise questions over the wisdom of Foster being appointed as head coach after a World Cup in which the All Blacks were soundly beaten in the semi-final by England, an underachievement by their own lofty standards. 

"Next year he will hope that a fading pandemic will allow a more regular schedule in which his side can reassert themselves. But the next few months, without any rugby to be played, could prove to be his most difficult time in the job."