Despite suffering their first loss to Argentina at the weekend, the All Blacks’ plan remains unchanged.
Leading into the match, coach Ian Foster said the team were looking at the possibility of sending players in the squad back to New Zealand early, to give them more time to recover before the Super Rugby season gets underway in February.
The finer details of that plan are yet to be decided, but Foster has confirmed that players will still be returning home.
“We’re just working through that at the moment,” Foster said the day after the defeat, with questions remaining over how many first-choice players will head back to New Zealand, or if it will largely be recently unused squad players heading home.
With a 36-man squad taken to Australia for the Tri Nations, the All Blacks can afford to lose some members, but will need to ensure that a balanced group remains to help with preparations for their final test of the year against Argentina in Sydney in a fortnight.
Australia and Argentina will meet on Saturday, with the All Blacks having two weeks to recover from and improve on their lacklustre performance against the Pumas.
The players who are set to stay in Australia will have been issued a warning by Foster, who wasn’t impressed with his side’s discipline in the defeat, nor the previous loss to the Wallabies.
In their past two games, they’ve averaged 13 penalties conceded, which have proven costly on the scoreboard in both clashes.
In their loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane, 12 of the Wallabies’ points came from penalty goals. Against Argentina, they conceded 18 points from penalty goals.
“I know it’s frustrating the players and us collectively,” acknowledged Foster.
“It’s funny, you go back a fortnight and composure was one of our strengths, and now we’ve just come down from a little bit of a high in Sydney and we don’t seem to have made the adjustments in that space that we would have wanted to.
“I don’t think there’s anything new to what’s happening on the park; test match rugby has always been played on the edge and what we saw was the same as what we’ve seen from years and years of Argentina. So, there’s no excuse for us not being disciplined at key things and suddenly in the last few weeks we’ve gone from being a team that’s immensely disciplined, for example on the offside lines – suddenly we’re giving up two or three penalties from something we can control like that and we’ve got to look at the cause of that.
“Those are easily fixed, but it shows people are probably trying a bit too hard in that space and we’ve got to start trusting what we do a little bit more.”
Against the Pumas, some penalties could have been easily avoided, such as hooker Dane Coles and flanker Shannon Frizell both being penalised for slapping an opponent in the face.
When asked about some of the senior members in the squad committing such errors, Foster was blunt in how those players would be addressed in the week ahead.
“Without doubt there will be a word.”
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