New Zealand in 2021 have broken the record for most test tries and points scored in a calendar year. The mood is that they are also in a crisis, following two consecutive losses.
How big this crisis is remains to be seen, but the pressure on head coach Ian Foster continues to grow exponentially after every defeat and poor performance.
Foster is being made the main scapegoat by the media and fans, with calls for him to sacked inevitably intertwined with the demand for Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson to be put in charge.
The All Blacks were supposed to win 2019 World Cup, Steve Hansen would leave on a high and Ian Foster would carry on the great work.
They didn’t win, but hired Foster anyway.
They look like a team crying out for a new start and ideas.
Scott Robertson is that man. #FRAvNZL
— JHC (@JHC17626935) November 20, 2021
Robertson was the first choice of many to replace Steve Hansen, but instead New Zealand went for the tried and trusted method of promoting from within, despite their World Cup semi-final loss to England with Ian Foster as assistant coach.
Hooker Dane Cole was at a loss to sum up New Zealand’s woes when he spoke following the 40-25 loss to France last night, admitting they found it tough to deal with Ireland's physicallity.
Physicality is your number one mindset. If you don't have that, then you can't get yourself into the game.
I think with the Irish and the South African boys, we were definitely not where we needed to be. But it just seemed like the speed of the game today – that first 20 they just broke us on the outsides – and I suppose the physicality around our defensive lineout stuff wasn't where it needed to be either.
I definitely put it down to physicality in the first two tests, tonight was just... I can't get my head around it at the moment.
For us to be where we want to be, we've got to step up in that department. Teams are coming for us. I don't have the magic words to make it all good, but we have got to sort it out in the next couple of years...
We have to look ourselves in the eye and have those tough conversations. We can't shy away from it. Those last two games haven't been good enough. There's always an expectation as an All Blacks to perform and put our hand up, and we haven't done that in the last two weeks.
I think we've blooded some really good players in, but we've been put under pressure the last couple of games, which is not good enough. We have to take everything out of it, dissect it and we need to be better going forward.
In defence of Foster and his side, the last two New Zealand losses came at the end of a gruelling stretch of matches with 10 games in 13 weeks.
On top of that, it would be a ballsy and rare move to sack an international head coach of one of the top nations.
From an Irish perspective, the loss to France does take some of gloss off their spectacular victory last week, with it being clear that New Zealand are not as good as we thought.