Former All Blacks great Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford on Monday upped the pressure on beleaguered coach Ian Foster saying it was clear there was “something wrong” after back-to-back Ireland defeats.
Ireland’s 32-22 triumph in Wellington on Saturday sealed the first All Blacks home series defeat since 1994 and was New Zealand’s fourth loss in their past five Tests.
“You can see that there’s something wrong with the team, it’s just not gelling that well,” Shelford told TVNZ on Monday.
“Under pressure, they’re a team that doesn’t always crack but they end up making a lot more mistakes than what they’d normally make.”
Foster’s record of eight defeats in 24 matches since succeeding Steve Hansen in 2020 has had pundits calling for him to be replaced with just 14 months until the Rugby World Cup kicks off in France.
Mark Robinson, the chief executive of New Zealand Rugby, on Sunday called the Ireland defeats “not acceptable” and launched an immediate performance review.
Shelford warned that Foster could pay the price, noting he was sidelined by Covid-19 for the All Blacks’ only victory over Ireland, 42-19 in the first Test in Auckland.
“If it comes to Ian Foster being dropped or possibly standing down, the decision’s got to come from the NZRU [New Zealand Rugby],” Shelford added.
Former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick also saw worrying signs.
“The questions will be asked. Have they the right coaches?” Fitzpatrick told Sky Sports UK.
“We were outcoached, without question. So they [NZ Rugby] need to decide what they’re going to do going forward.”
Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has been added to the All Blacks coaching staff for next month’s Rugby Championship, with some pundits saying the New Zealander should replace Foster.
“We do have Joe Schmidt in the wings, he’ll be coming back into the team now when they go to South Africa, so we’ll just wait and see,” Fitzpatrick said.
However, John Kirwan, who played alongside Shelford and Fitzpatrick in the All Blacks team who won the 1987 World Cup, was against sacking Foster.
“Not at all. I think there’s going to be some real decisions to make. They’ve got the Rugby Championship coming up,” Kirwan told Newstalk ZB.
“I believe Ian Foster can turn this around. Well, he has to turn it around, should I say.”
© Agence France-Presse
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