World media blasts abysmal All Blacks

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The Independent Online

The All Blacks have taken a pounding from rugby correspondents around the world following the debacle in Durban.

The All Blacks left South Africa without a single bonus point after yesterday's 31-19 defeat followed an equally inept performance in Bloemfontein a week earlier.

While there was praise for the Springboks' efforts, most were lining up to put the boot into the men in black.

The Independent's Peter Bills said 2009 is turning into All Blacks coach Graham Henry's "annus horribilis" and not even Dan Carter's return would reverse their fortunes.

"Watching the All Blacks in South Africa during the past fortnight reminded me of how New Zealand sides have played in Rugby World Cups these past 20 years," he wrote.

"Nervy, panicky when put under pressure, abandoning the gameplan and making far too many simple mistakes.

New Zealand Herald rugby writer Wynne Gray highlighted the amount of errors the All Blacks made and called for an overhaul of the side.

"Their error rate was abysmal, and for those enthralled by lists, it was as bad as any performance in the 69 tests since Henry took over," he said.

"On the evidence of that [Durban] performance and the muddled work this year, the All Blacks will be extremely fortunate not to lose again in their remaining eight internationals."

In South Africa's Sunday Times, Simnikiwe Xabanisa opined that the All Blacks had "inexplicably shunned the age-old virtues" of playing conservative rugby when rain made conditions difficult.

"They were skittish under pressure, too often tried to run the ball from their tryline, and gave up penalties in dangerous areas of the field."

However, it is the thoughts of former Bulls coach Heyneke Meyer in the same newspaper which may carry most resonance for Henry and his men.

Meyer said the Springboks had adapted better to the tactical demands of modern test rugby than the All Blacks, who had ignored the importance of an intelligent kicking game.

"One of the reasons New Zealand haven't won a World Cup for so long is their weakness in this area," wrote Meyer, who guided the 2007 Bulls to Super 14 success.

"In the modern game you can't outrun a team - especially a team with a halfback duo like the one South Africa has."

Amongst all the criticism, former Waikato coach and current Wales coach Warren Gatland did have a warning for those crowing about the All Blacks' demise.

He told the WalesOnline website that New Zealand's indifferent form is an ominous sign ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

"If you look at the last 20 years, the All Blacks, at this stage of the calendar, have always been at their strongest and it has done them no good at World Cups," he said.

"Now they have key players out and some new ones coming into the squad and don't look quite as strong as they might do."

"But I expect them to come back strong."

Sourced from: The New Zealand Herald