The tactical genius of Ian Foster

Victory is certain

Just a quick word on the naming of the All Blacks team for the rematch against Argentina this Saturday.

Ian Foster has named an unchanged starting XV. It’s a shrewd move by the coach, one that will have confused the opposition. When a team fails as badly as it did in Christchurch, the usual move would be to make changes to the starting team. Instead, Foster has wisely chosen to reward failure. Now the Pumas will have to adjust their own tactics, having already planned to adjust their tactics for the inevitable All Blacks personnel changes. Now the lack of any personnel changes means those Argentinian tactics need to be adjusted back to what they were before. A wily move by the cunning Foster!

The real loser here is Stephen Perofeta. Selected as an impact player for the Christchurch test, he made little difference during his 50 seconds on the field, and rightfully bears most of the blame for the historic loss. He has been dropped altogether from the match day 23. While it would have been nice if some of the more established players had done something, anything, during the 79 minutes Perofeta wasn’t on the field, it’s sobering to realise that a quick try or a fancy move from the test debutant could still have helped to tie the scores. So Perofeta deserves to be dropped, and frankly it should serve as a message to any other aspiring young player. Perform instantly or be dropped. Unless you have more than thirty tests under your belt, in which case sit back and relax.

It’s quite possible that Foster’s new-look old-look team will do the business on Saturday. A traditional thumping could even be on the cards. And that will prove that Foster was right all along. The players who failed so miserably a week before will have succeeded eventually. Although those same players will then probably fail in the first test against Australia, recent history suggests that they will pick themselves up again for a win in the game after that.

A loss followed by a win and then a loss and then a win may not sound like a flash record. But after what we All Blacks fans have had to endure in the first part of 2022, a 50% winning record for the rest of the season sounds like a dream come true.

But if there is a solid All Blacks win on Saturday, it will prove that the team has turned a corner. Again. Having already turned corners against South Africa and in the first test against Ireland. The thing about corners, though, is that if you keep turning you just end up going around in circles.

But I have faith in coach Foster and captain Cane. Argentina have never beaten the All Blacks in a test series. So history is against them, just as it was against them last week, and in 2020 when they beat us for the first time, and just as history was against Ireland earlier this season. We can be very confident of victory, because there’s no conceivable way another team is going to make history against us.