Sunday 15:00, September 20th, 2023 Abbaye Sainte-Marie de Fontfroide
Disregarding the one-way game against Japan, the All Blacks scored 24 tries in five games in 1995. This year, if you leave out the win against an unimpressive Italy, the All Blacks have scored 19 tries less in five games.
Sure, the game has changed in the last fourteen years, with solid walls of players to get by and the field made narrower by drift defenses, not to mention getting rid of the ball as quickly as possible via the boring box kick.
But could it be the All Black backs are, shall we say, under-performing?
The halfback position is in a state of flux, Donald’s doing a good job but he’s no Carter, Nonu looks a little bemused, Joe and Sivi have shown little penetration, Mils is off his feed, which leaves just Conrad Smith looking good.
One out of seven is not a pass mark.
It gets better in the forwards, but the scrum is still light of one prop and one hooker, and without Williams there’s not much spine in the second-row scrummage or lineout. The bench strength was also bad last week.
So what’s an All Blacks fan to do?
Hope for lots of penalties and for Donald to be on target? Or hope that the try drought was just an aberration and the backs will fly in Durban?
You tell me.