All Black 2022 Season Review

The roller-coaster form of the All Blacks under head coach Ian Foster’s reign continued right up to the end of the season with a 25-25 draw with England.

Sam Cane & Ian Foster - there will still be some discussion over summer about these two.

Just how the All Blacks let England back into the match 25-6 up with nine minutes to play was jaw dropping but given what has gone on all season it wasn’t totally surprising.

Confusing and at times controversial selections have not helped the All Blacks cause and that selection controversy continued right up until and including the England match.

Why was halfback Aaron Smith and a dominant starting front row subbed off ?

How has TJ Perenara suddenly shot up to number two in the rankings, another of his aimless box kicks led directly to one of the three England tries ? Brad Weber hard done by.

Why is Richie Mo’unga not taking the goal kicks and why does Beauden Barrett feel the need to come into the play-makers roll from fullback. The very best first-fives in history ran their team and their selection was rarely in doubt, namely Grant Fox, Jonny Wilkinson, Daniel Carter, Barry John, Andre Pollard, Michael Lynagh to name a few.

Mo’unga’s confidence must be dented with Foster’s continued tinkering in that area.

Mo’unga’s confidence must be dented with Foster’s continued tinkering in that area.

Entering World Cup year the All Blacks still do not have an established mid-field combination and the same applies to the back three and the loose-forwards.

Who's actually calling the shots ??

Surely Dalton Papali’i has nailed the starting seven spot with an outstanding northern tour and surely former skipper Sam Cane is not going to be recalled nor hooker Dane Coles.

The selections all year were often confusing and did not always correspond with form. How did Mark Talea suddenly rank ahead of Sevu Reece on the Northern tour, nothing against Talea he played well but Reece is a real point of difference, a game breaker.

By All Blacks standards, played 13 won eight, lost four drew one is not good enough and nor should we be satisfied with that record because those wins included a very lucky escape against Australia in Melbourne and below par performances against Scotland and Japan.

Dalton Papali’i impressed in each game

On the plus side and there were several plusses. The standard of all the top tier tier teams has improved significantly so really any win against any of those sides deserves credit.

The All Blacks showed in patches, including most of the England test, that they are as good as any team and their strike power remains top shelf.

They retained the Bledisloe Cup, won the rugby Championship, had an excellent win over the Springboks in South Africa and were unbeaten on their northern tour so that’s pretty good.

The lack of consistency is tied in directly with a lack of consistency in selection and often confusing tactics and as All Blacks fans we are frustrated because we know that with the right players selected in their right positions playing the right tactics we can win the World Cup.

Hopefully a couple of rookies will be selected from the Super rugby competition and two players currently sidelined with injuries, loose-forwards Ethan Blackadder and Cullen Grace will both come into serious selection contention.

Hopefully a couple of rookies will be selected from the Super rugby competition and two players currently sidelined with injuries, loose-forwards Ethan Blackadder and Cullen Grace will both come into serious selection contention.

Ethan Blackadder

Let’s hope coach Foster has a chat to Black Ferns coach Wayne Smith. Smithy banned box kicking and got the women to play a game suited to their DNA, free spirited and attacking and that’s what the All Blacks should be doing.

Ball in hand and using the kicking game as a variation, grubbers behind rush defences which are contestable and kicking into vacant space instead of those aimless bombs which almost always result in the opposition getting possession.

The Wallabies had a far worse win-loss record than the All Blacks but on the back of a horrendous injury toll, most of their losses were by very narrow margins including 10-13 against Ireland and 29-30 over France, the two top ranked teams in the world, 27-28 to Italy plus the last minute defeat to the All Blacks in Melbourne.

Next year’s World Cup promises to be the most exciting ever with France, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia all serious contenders.

My top All Blacks team right now leaving out those currently injured is:

Will Jordan, Reiko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jordie Barrett, Sevu Reece, Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith, Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Shannon Frizell, Sam Whitelock (cpt), Scott Barrett, Tyrel Lomax, Samisoni Taukei’ako, Ethan de Groot.

Bench: Codie Taylor, George Bower, Fletcher Newell, Brodie Retallick, Akira Ioane, Brad Weber, David Havili, Beauden Barrett

Listen to Greg Brimble and myself, John Alexander review the recently completed test rugby season

Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images sourced by Absolutely Famous.

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