Justin Marshall makes staggering claim about the All Blacks’ depth

Colin Newboult

All Blacks huddle following defeat to France in Rugby World Cup opener in 2023.

Former All Black Justin Marshall is worried that they don’t have the depth of talent of the other top countries in the Rugby World Cup.

For years, New Zealand have led the way in terms of their player production, but that has changed according to the former scrum-half.

Ian Foster’s men were beaten by France in the opening game of the Rugby World Cup having been completely outplayed in the second period.

Although the three-time world champions went into the encounter without a few key individuals due to injury, so did France, who were arguably even more badly hit.

No trust

“Let’s not beat about the bush on it. The French were missing four of their top players, but they didn’t look like they missed a beat,” Marshall told The Platform.

“Their bench came on and absolutely changed the game, whereas we, with probably the same amount of injuries, didn’t look like we had the same rhythm.

“When our bench came on, it didn’t change the game. You then go, ‘why are these sides having so much depth when we’re not?’ That’s why we’ve got to find that 23.

“I don’t think that we can trust our depth at the moment and that’s very evident when we get into trouble on a rugby field.

“Unlike good rugby teams or All Black teams in the past, when we find ourselves in trouble we can’t dig ourselves out of a hole. We fall into it deeper.”

Marshall’s comments came prior to New Zealand naming their side for their second World Cup clash against Namibia.

The 50-year-old wants to see some continuity leading into the knockout stages and believes Foster has made a mistake by not selecting his first choice 23.

“Barring injury, the team that’s going to start that quarter-final just needs to play. There’s no hiding from it, they’ve got to go out there and try and create some rhythm,” he said.

“When they do actually hit that (quarter-final) game, they will have been battle-hardened for three weeks. Yes, it’s not against the quality of opposition that South Africa, Ireland and possibly the likes of Wales are going to be encountering, but at least the side is starting to gel.

“Look at Ireland. They put out their best side and man they looked good for it. Andy Farrell’s not afraid to do that.

“The thing about Ireland is you know from week to week what team they’re going to select, and they know each other well.

“They went out there with their method, Johnny Sexton the architect, and did the job. Yes, it was only Romania, but Farrell didn’t button off in his selections. Is that Ian Foster’s mindset?”

Still believes

Despite their current issues, Marshall insists that New Zealand can still become world champions for a fourth time, but admits that view is not shared by many others.

He concedes that the ‘aura’ which has always surrounded the All Blacks has dissipated in the view of opposition fans, players and coaches.

“I’m a believer and I know that this team can do it. The rest of the world? Not so. Making my way round France since that game, bumping heads with former players, they are saying the same things,” he added.

“Other teams and other people in general are seeing the All Blacks without that aura.

“I feel they still have it, I feel they’ve still got the ability to bring out those qualities make us the country that we are.”

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