‘Too Pre­dictable’ All Blacks suck up crit­i­cism

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

All Blacks coach Ian Fos­ter ad­mits the world cham­pi­ons paid the price for be­ing “too pre­dictable” when they went down to a land­mark de­feat by Ire­land at the week­end.

The charge has been lev­elled by Bryan Lo­chore and Fos­ter said yes­ter­day he had no prob­lem with the All Black leg­end’s damn­ing ver­dict. “I think it is fair based on the Irish game. I think the Irish prob­a­bly found us a bit pre­dictable too,” the num­ber two to head coach Steve Hansen told re­porters in Rome.

“We strug­gled early in terms of ball sup­ply and we were not able to paint some pic­tures that we needed to paint. “So when we did even­tu­ally get the ball we did be­come pre­dictable.” Weak­ened by in­juries, the All Blacks were out-fought and out-thought in a 40-29 de­feat in Chicago that rep­re­sented Ire­land’s first tri­umph over New Zealand in 111 years of matches be­tween the two coun­tries. Men­tal fa­tigue also looked to have played a part in a record 18-Test win­ning streak com­ing to an end at Sol­dier’s Field. “It was not what we have been do­ing for most of the year but we have to recog­nise that it was our 11th Test of the year,” Fos­ter said.

“So while we were feel­ing pretty good about how things were go­ing, the op­po­si­tion had plenty of time to look at us and we have got to be smarter than that.”

‘O’SHEA SUR­PRISES EX­PECTED’

Fos­ter said the de­feat would not how­ever af­fect Hansen’s plans to use Satur­day’s clash with Italy as an op­por­tu­nity to give some of the less ex­pe­ri­enced mem­bers of his squad play­ing time.

“Our be­lief has al­ways been that we need a lot of fresh­ness to get our per­for­mance right. “Com­ing off a loss - that hurts. But it doesn’t change our at­ti­tude about us­ing the full re­sources of our squad to get through this tour. “If you bring guys over you re­ally want to give them an op­por­tu­nity.” Fos­ter says he has been im­pressed by how Italy have started life un­der Irish coach Conor O’Shea.

“He seems to want to use the tra­di­tional (pack-led) strengths of Ital­ian rugby but he has cer­tainly added a few other things around the park,” Fos­ter said. “So I think there will be some sur­prises for us on Satur­day and that is not a bad thing for us be­cause we have to go in there with our eyes open and make bet­ter de­ci­sions on the run.

“We have played Italy enough to know that if we al­low their strengths to get on top of us that we can strug­gle against them.” The All Blacks’ line-out, which mal­func­tioned badly against the Irish, could be bol­stered by the re­turn of Brodie Re­tal­lick. The giant lock has joined the squad in Rome af­ter miss­ing the Chicago trip due to the con­cus­sion he suf­fered af­ter be­ing struck by Aus­tralia flanker Dean Mumm as the All Blacks notched up their 18th con­sec­u­tive vic­tory in Auck­land last month. “So far, so good,” Re­tal­lick said of his re­cov­ery from an in­ci­dent which he ad­mit­ted had left him suf­fer­ing from se­vere headaches and dis­con­cert­ing pres­sure in the head. “I am run­ning fine but have not done any con­tact or col­li­sion stuff yet,” he said. Satur­day’s match may come too early for Re­tal­lick’s usual sec­ond-row part­ner Sam White­lock, who is re­cov­er­ing from an an­kle sprain.—AFP

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