A team chock full of talent but unable to turn that talent into consistent wins when it really mattered. The way that Blues team, Wales and now the All Blacks have stuttered and run out steam seems to indicate that the coaching team has run out out of ideas, or they have got stale and the players have got sick of being geed up the same way by the old headmaster and his senior teachers.
The reappointment of the current coaching panel after the last world cup failure (our worst showing ever at a World Cup) and more recently having those appointments extended to the next world cup have polarised the nation. The chasm between the rugby union and the Henry apologists and the rest of us is only going to get wider as the All Blacks' results fail to live up to the high standards we expect.
The first two round of the NPC have been attracting record numbers of live and television viewers. In total contrast to the International team the provincial teams are playing with passion and appear to have a plan of action that the players adhere. The All Blacks and the coaching team would be wise to take some lessons from the local game.
There have been a few upsets and Auckland, the team that given it's pool of potential players should be the overwhelming favorite each time it takes the filed has been tipped over twice. This isn't so suprising as the Auckland Rugby Union appears to be run by the same sort of opportunists that run the national game.
The All Blacks need to be playing with the commitment, passion and structure that the provincial teams are exercising at the moment. The players also need to be playing as often as possible, not coddled in cotton wool after each big game. We need players who are in form not players who were in some sort of form the last time they played which might have been weeks ago. Playing international rugby, well any kind of rugby is tough on the body. But then so are a lot of other sports so I don't hold with the policy of resting players. If they get injured or lose form then pick someone else.
My remedy for their current woes?
- Replace the coaching staff immediately. There are plenty of candidates out there who can take the team through to the next World Cup
- Make the players play week in week out when games available. Get them out there playing for this clubs and provincial unions wherever possible
- Make sure that the start of the provincial season does not clash with the club finals.
My tip for the NPC final. Waikato vs Hawkes Bay. Waikato to win.