“Rebound” : this is the watchword running around this week in the ranks of the New Zealand rugby team. After missing their entry into the Rugby World Cup losing in the opening match against France, the All Blacks no longer have any room for maneuver. They must win their three remaining group matches to reach the quarter-finals. A situation as uncomfortable as it is unprecedented: it is the first time in their history that the team from the country with the long white cloud has lost a match in the group stage of a World Cup.
However, hearing from the team’s players and coaches this week, the content of their second match, Friday against Namibia (9 p.m., in Toulouse and on TF1), will be as important as the final result. Many questions hang over the game and the strategy of the All Blacks. They were highlighted by the scenario of most of the first matches of this World Cup, where the “playful” teams retaining the ball struggled.
New Zealand, all the more dangerous as it manages to wear down its opponents with its speed and to monopolize and move the ball, was manhandled by the French kicking game. We also saw England win against Argentina without scoring a try and the Wales dispose of Fiji thanks to his tackles. Not a coincidence, according to Ian Foster. “The first matches were influenced by the weather conditions, particularly the heat and humidity. There were an incredible number of kicks. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen international matches like that.” detailed the Kiwi technician during the week.
The weakness of its reservoir
Chopped matches, interrupted by two hydration breaks and starving actual playing time: everything that New Zealand hates, with its ambitious animation. “These conditions make it difficult to multiply the phases of play and we saw a lot of lost balls in attack. The weather will cool down a little and we will try to apply our strategy: we have a fairly clear idea of what we want to do, we will make sure that it shows”, Ian Foster insisted again.
Despite the defeat, the latter largely rotated his squad, resting many executives. Not all of them, however: in addition to Ardie Savea and Beauden Barrett in particular, already lined up against the Blues, second-row Sam Whitelock will start on Friday and will equal, with 148 matches played, the record for the number of selections in the black jersey, held by the iconic former captain Richie McCaw. He will partner Brodie Retallick, back from injury, for their 66e joint match, again an absolute record.
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