ABS ‘have lost mystique’
The All Blacks have lost their mystique but that’s not a bad thing as the World Cup looms.
That’s the belief of former All Blacks prop Craig Dowd from his review of an All Blacks season that saw the Steve Hansen’s world champions lose two tests and be pressed hard in others.
Dowd feels it’s obvious the chasing field has closed the gap, meaning the All Blacks have to play to their best to win tests, something that is good for the international game.
South Africa’s win in Wellington and Ireland’s win in Dublin were a boost for all of the All Blacks’ opposition.
‘‘The confidence the opposing sides will take from their games is that the All Blacks are not unbeatable and they are no longer this team bound in mys- tique and aura that sets them apart from the rest,’’ Dowd wrote in his latest column for ESPN Rugby.
‘‘There is a human element about the All Blacks at the moment and, if anything, they are a bit of a wounded beast. They’ll be off to the beach over the summer with that nagging thought in their heads about what could have been.’’
Dowd insists that is ‘‘really good for the All Black camp and psyche’’ at this late stage of a World Cup cycle where they had previously seemed totally dominant.
‘‘They know they have got to lift it again if they are to be better than they were in 2018 and if they are to win the Rugby World Cup.’’
He felt errors and turnovers would be the biggest concerns for the New Zealand management as they reflected on a difficult year and looked for areas to improve.
‘‘We were pressured into making mistakes at crucial times which is uncharacteristic of the All Blacks, especially if you look at some of the intercept passes, brain fades and decisions that were made under pressure, which only put us under further under the pump,’’ Dowd said.
‘‘That comes down to experience. But the All Blacks will be better for having gone through those things. Hopefully they