'Panicky' All Blacks blasted by home media

rugby26 August 2023 04:54| © AFP
Scott Barrett © Gallo Images

The All Blacks were blasted as "panicky and rattled" by New Zealand media on Saturday in the wake of a record loss to South Africa in their final match before the World Cup begins in two weeks.

The three-time world champions crashed to a 35-7, five-tries-to-one defeat to the Springboks at Twickenham on Friday.

"It doesn't bode well," wrote Patrick McKendry for Television New Zealand, describing the test as "a disaster" for the All Blacks, who are due to open the 2023 World Cup against hosts France in Paris on September 8.

It was the biggest defeat ever suffered by the All Blacks, who are currently ranked No 2 in the world and have held the No 1 position for more than 80 per cent of the time since the rankings system was introduced 20 years ago.

In a clash seen by both sides as a crucial part of their World Cup preparations, McKendry said the "mentally rattled" All Blacks "were too frantic and pushed unnecessary passes, several of which were intercepted".

"It is difficult to imagine a worse build-up for them," he said.

Liam Napier, writing in the New Zealand Herald, said the loss, as well as a red card for lock Scott Barrett and a serious leg gash for prop Tyrel Lomax, "equates to carnage" for the side.

"The clarity and accuracy the All Blacks delivered to lock away the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup earlier this year largely deserted them."

Herald columnist Gregor Paul said various parts of New Zealand's game were exposed "as having a previously unrealised fragility".

"The All Blacks haven't looked this panicky and rattled since Ireland were pulling them in all directions last July and while they were obviously hindered by the red card, that felt more like a symptom rather than a cause of their problems," he said.

Richard Knowler, writing for the Stuff media group, highlighted "poor discipline, sloppy decision-making and silly errors"k with the All Blacks displaying a "tender underbelly".

"The task, now, is to prove they have the mental resilience to rebound from this shock loss. They have two weeks to get that right."