- By Kevin McCarthy
I knew Ian Foster was rubbish. I knew Dave Rennie is a genius.
Welcome to the world of the hot take, where a limited amount of data is a boon not a bane.
At the other extent is the quote by a Chinese leader about what difference the French Revolution had made, to which he replied it’s too early to say.
They reckon he misheard the question, but there’s no doubting the pre-loaded question hanging over Bled 1, which is whether the Foster era is going to be a success or not.
To which I reply, it’s too early to say.
There is not much doubt the All Blacks were incredibly lucky to escape in Wellington. The Wallabies had two thirds of the possession and the best chances to finish the game off,
The New Zealand pack in the second half looked increasingly on the back foot, and once again the template was resolute defence and quick counterattack to keep us in contention.
That sounds awfully familiar to the model that reached its sell-by-date at the last World Cup.
The Australians were well drilled, seemed to have worked out most of All Black avenues of attack, and played to their own strengths. They were also unperturbed – and the longer they stayed in touch, the more they began to believe.
We will never know what would have happened if Reiko Ioane’s showboating non-try on the halftime whistle had been taken. Perhaps it would have been just too much of a blow.
However, I suspect not.
The question marks for the All Blacks and Foster are many – such as a team selected with specialists out of position to accommodate the talent on offer, and the general lack of grunt upfront.
In short, after one match, it looks like Dave Rennie outcoached his opponent, and starting – so we were led to believe – from a lot further back in terms of preparation.
Is the niggling suspicion that Ian Foster is not much different in approach from Hansen – and that indeed it’s a staleness that is not going to fire up a new team approach and era?
Returning to where we began, it’s way too early to say, although we won’t have to wait 200 years to hazard a guess. The next data point is Eden Park, and cruelly for Ian Foster he will know the knives will really come out if the All Blacks lose there – and the Bledisloe goes on the line.
And yes here’s the told you so bit. The Boks are out of the Rugby Championship. Of course they’ve hardly been signalling that in a quiet fashion for weeks.
So in the end, while it doesn’t excuse NZ Rugby, the championship doesn’t look that bad thing to have lost ownership of.
Really its now a Super Bled. With the All Blacks such an unknown, it is great to have all this uncertainty. Makes you want to get out and follow test rugby again.
So the axe has swung – a bit – with this morning’s five changes to the All Blacks for Bled II.
The biggie is Ioane’s dropping to the bench, and Caleb Clarke’s first start.
And the other famous winger is Wellington’s own Dane Coles, in for Codie Taylor.
Other than Whitelock’s enforced absence, the other six pack members will be given a chance to atone for last week’s tame showing. We would hope.
The matchday 23 is as follows (Test caps in brackets):
- Joe Moody (47)
- Dane Coles (70)
- Ofa Tuungafasi (36)
- Patrick Tuipulotu (31)
- Tupou Vaa’i (1)
- Shannon Frizell (10)
- Sam Cane (69) – captain
- Ardie Savea (45)
- Aaron Smith (93)
- Richie Mo’unga (18)
- Caleb Clarke (1)
- Jack Goodhue (14)
- Anton Lienert-Brown (44)
- Jordie Barrett (18)
- Beauden Barrett (84)
- Codie Taylor (51)
- Alex Hodgman – debut
- Nepo Laulala (27)
- Scott Barrett (36)
- Hoskins Sotutu (1)
- TJ Perenara (65)
- Rieko Ioane (30)
- Damian McKenzie (24)