Why All Blacks fans finally ‘can’t moan’ about Ian Foster and his vastly improved side

 Credit: Alamy

Credit: Alamy

Former All Black Justin Marshall believes that Ian Foster’s outfit are in great shape ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France.

They have improved significantly since the start of last year, which saw them lose a home series against Ireland and suffer further defeats to South Africa and Argentina.

New Zealand showed signs of improvement in the latter stages of 2022, winning the Rugby Championship and finishing the campaign unbeaten in seven.

Foster’s men have continued to develop in 2023 and have dominated the Pumas, Springboks and Wallabies over successive rounds to retain the Rugby Championship title.

In danger of losing his job

The head coach has been under significant pressure since he took the role and was almost sacked midway through 2022, but the story is very different now.

New Zealand can look forward to the World Cup with confidence and Marshall is delighted with the direction they are heading in.

“The momentum that they’ve got, the way that they’re playing – the speed, the tempo, the physicality – we can’t moan,” he told The Platform.

“However, we’ve got to test ourselves against what is the benchmark at the moment which is for sure France and Ireland.

“They (All Blacks) are playing a better style, which is good to see. I certainly feel that they are, game plan-wise, a significantly different team than what they were last year.

“It’s completely different isn’t it? We were really struggling, dropping Test matches that we shouldn’t have been dropping and struggling to work out a game plan.

“They’re very clear now on how they want to attack and because of that they’re scoring tries. It’s a completely different team.

“The momentum is massive because what momentum means is confidence and then you become a really galvanised unit.”

New Zealand were excellent throughout the Rugby Championship but that means little when it comes to winning the World Cup, according to Marshall.

“The only thing I would say is be wary. I remember in 2003 we walloped South Africa, we walloped Australia and then we got bit in a semi-final of the Rugby World Cup,” he said.

“This team will have to go through some hardship. At the moment they’ve got it all going their own way, it’s a dominant side, but at some stage there’s going to be a team that’s really going to test them.”

Defence

New Zealand’s 38-7 victory over Australia sealed the southern hemisphere title and they also retained the Bledisloe Cup.

They scored some excellent tries and eventually ran away with the match, but Marshall insisted that it was a performance based on defence.

That facet of the game was also noticeable in the triumph over the Springboks, which puts them in good stead looking towards the World Cup.

“You look at the game and see them running in some sensational tries, and the attack looks good, but ultimately unless your defence looks good, then the game can sway and change,” Marshall added.

“At the moment, the defence is rock solid. South Africa took a long, long time to break through and break the All Blacks down.

“Yes, they scored two tries but ultimately when the crunch time came and they got inside the 22, for the vast majority of the game, like they did against the Wallabies, defensively they were very good.

“What’s really noticeable is the physicality they’re bringing to the tackling. They’re just going in with real intent and that’s good because it really compromises the ball carriers when they get hit hard.”

READ MORE: ‘All Blacks set to make some changes for Bledisloe II’ says Ian Foster

The article Why All Blacks fans finally ‘can’t moan’ about Ian Foster and his vastly improved side appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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