Get behind All Blacks demands Prime Minister

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The Independent Online

New Zealand prime minister John Key has called on the country to rally around the beleaguered All Blacks following their two dismal defeats to South Africa in the Tri-Nations.

Since New Zealand's most recent 31-19 loss to the Springboks in Durban, talkback radio has been inundated with calls from disgruntled fans questioning the ability of coaches Graham Henry, Steve Hansen and Wayne Smith, who have recently been re-signed through until after the 2011 World Cup.



There has also been plenty of criticism of the game plan adopted by the All Blacks which saw them try to run the ball from deep in their own half constantly despite the wet conditions in Durban.



The misfiring line-out, poor ball skills, ill-discipline and the lack of a decent kicking game have also left many feeling unhappy.



But Key believes the team needs to be supported, not denounced.



"At one level it's important that we rally around them. The All Blacks win a hell of a lot more than they lose," he told Newstalk ZB.



"The team is rebuilding. As long as they win in 2011 at the Rugby World Cup that will probably work for me."



Former All Blacks have been less forgiving though with Sean Fitzpatrick concerned about the direction in which the team is heading.



"There need to be serious questions," he told the New Zealand Herald.



"Not only about the players for their lack of discipline, but also the coaches for their lack of game plan and where we are actually going.



"Because at the moment we are really struggling.



"At line-out time we're struggling and we're also struggling with the game plan. There are huge question marks."



Fitzpatrick, who won 92 caps and led the team 51 times, described the loss in Durban as "pretty average to say the least".



Like most fans and pundits the ex-hooker is baffled by the All Blacks' inability to secure their own line-out ball or put any pressure on the opposition by contesting.



While admitting the line-out continues to be a concern, forwards coach Hansen has said there is no need to call in a specialist coach to help correct the problems.



"I don't think it is a technical issue," he said.



"It's a confidence thing. Technically we are not too bad. There are a few areas we can sharpen up on but I think a lot of it is confidence and we have allowed a very good line-out to come in and mentally dominate us."



The All Blacks have around three weeks to try to overcome the short-comings that were exposed by the Springboks.



The break will also give Henry more time to weigh up whether or not to bring Daniel Carter back into the fold after Stephen Donald and Luke McAlister failed to impose themselves in the number 10 jersey in his absence.



Carter looked comfortable in his first major game since rupturing his Achilles tendon in January when he played for an hour for Canterbury in their loss to North Harbour in last weekend's first round of provincial rugby matches.



His Canterbury coach Rob Penney certainly has no qualms about the fly-half being able to make the step up despite his limited game time.



Carter should start for Canterbury again this weekend when they make the trip to Auckland.



New Zealand's next match is their second Bledisloe Cup clash with Australia in Sydney on August 22.



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