All Blacks great Sir Wayne ‘Buck’ Shelford has criticised the skill levels of the current side following their disappointing loss to Ireland at the weekend.
Ian Foster’s men were not helped by Angus Ta’avao’s sending off, as well as the yellow cards for Leicester Fainga’anuku and Ofa Tuungafasi, but they struggled to find a rhythm throughout the contest.
And Shelford bemoaned the team’s performance as the tourists claimed a victory to level the series ahead of the winner-takes-all clash this weekend.
The way New Zealand lost
“We didn’t lose by much but it was the way we lost,” Shelford told Stuff. “The turnover rate, the stupid penalties we gave away. Our discipline was terrible.
“We haven’t upped our game, in terms of our backs’ attack. Our catching and passing, at times, is horrific. For guys of this calibre, I just think it is abysmal.”
Shelford also believes that New Zealand – and the officiating team – need to get on top of the visitors’ tactics.
“They (Ireland) are playing quite smart. When they go in for the tackle they always roll out our side of the ruck, trying to slow the ball down,” he said.
“We need to tell the referee ‘they are rolling out on our side all the time’.”
Pressure on Foster
Pressure is also on head coach Foster, who has seen his team lose three of their past four international matches.
The 57-year-old was promoted to the job following Steve Hansen’s departure but the results and performances have been poor by the All Blacks’ high standards.
With New Zealand Rugby promoting from within, instead of bringing in the popular Crusaders head honcho Scott Robertson, questions have been asked as to whether the side has developed its game.
“It is a hell of a job but he put his name forward for it,” he added. “One of the things I thought when Mr Foster got the job was ‘what are we going to see that we haven’t seen before?’
“And, to me, not a lot has changed.”
New Zealand v Ireland preview
Planet Rugby previews the series deciding third Test between the All Blacks and Ireland in Wellington.