Former All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg has called on current coach Ian Foster to scrap the hotly debated dual playmaker system the team has implemented in recent years.
Speaking on Sky Sport’s The Breakdown, Dagg said a fresh approach was needed for the 2023 Rugby World Cup and time was running out to start looking for it.
"I think we've gone around in circles," Dagg said.
The system was first introduced by former coach Steve Hansen ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, leading to star first-five Beauden Barrett playing in his secondary position at fullback while Richie Mo’unga played at first-five.
While the idea had limited success, the All Blacks were ultimately shut down in Japan and some thought the system would leave with a departing Hansen until successor Foster opted to employ it again last year.
Foster faced more scrutiny than Hansen though with the system already showed to have its limitations as well as the emergence of in-form fullbacks Damian McKenzie and Jordie Barrett who were either benched or forced to play elsewhere to accommodate.
Critics continued to grow last year too with the All Blacks’ mixed results which included their first ever loss to Argentina.
Dagg, who started at fullback for the All Blacks when they won the 2011 World Cup final against France, said results speak for themselves.
"If you look at both times World Cups have been successful, they've had out-and-out fullbacks, they've had out-and-out wingers playing in those positions.
"They're trying to say they need a playmaker. You can't tell me [Damian McKenzie] or Jordie Barrett or Will Jordan's not a playmaker.
"Those boys are playmakers. If you get the ball in their hands, something's going to happen.
"We've got to get rid of that dual playmaker. They've said it and they've got to make it look like they're going to do it."
Dagg’s thoughts were backed up by fellow panellist and former All Blacks wing Jeff Wilson who added he thinks the No.15 jersey should belong to Crusaders star Will Jordan currently with focus turning to the 2023 World Cup.
"It seems as though we have been in that mindset of the dual playmaker, moving Beauden Barrett to the back," Wilson said.
"I look at Will Jordan and we [need to] give him the responsibility. We are running out of time."
Foster said last year he was “satisfied” with how the system worked.
"Are we willing to continue that? Yes we are. If players aren't producing at the right level are we willing to change that? Yes we are.
"When it comes to who is playing it's not just about Beauden and Richie. It's about what other 10s and fullbacks are putting their hands up.”
Heading into the 2021 international season, Foster will not only have to weigh up what other players have done so far this season but also the fact Barrett has been in Japan on a sabbatical – a decision Breakdown panellist and All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan said last month should see him not even selected in the starting line-up.
“When I said Beaudy [Barrett] stays in 22, there’s no way that the All Blacks selectors would risk them coming back without knowing the intensity of the Japanese league,” Kirwan said at the time.
“Right now, if you look at that, you think, ‘Well, who was tackling out there?’
“Now, I love the Japanese league, I’ve played it, I’ve coached it, it’s fantastic. Maybe a game at the end of the season would sort that out, but Beaudy and Brodie have to come back and sit on the bench.
“You cannot let our guys play through that [Super Rugby Aotearoa] season, while they’re away, and let them come back and take the 10 [jersey].”
Foster will get to answer all those questions in July when the All Blacks play their first Tests of 2021 against Fiji.