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John Hart jumps to defence of Ian Foster after All Blacks' shock loss - 'The coach can only do so much'

Former All Blacks coach John Hart has jumped to the defence of the man currently in charge of national side, saying Ian Foster isn’t to blame for the shock loss to Argentina on Saturday.

Pressure has been heaped on Foster since Saturday’s comprehensive 25-15 defeat – the All Blacks first ever loss to the Pumas – which has left him with a 40 per cent win rate in his first five Tests since taking over from Steve Hansen.

But Hart, who coached the All Blacks in 41 Tests between 1996 and 1999 with a win percentage of 75.6, told NZME it’s too early to put all the blame on Foster.

"He'll be feeling the pressure but it's early days," Hart said. “The coach can [only] do so much; we all well know that.”

Former All Blacks coach John Hart. Source: Photosport

Instead, Hart feels players have to take the heat instead.

“I think in the end, on the field on Saturday, we didn't quite see the finesse that we need and a lot of that has to be the players.

“The players got to have a really hard look at themselves rather than at the moment just focus on the coach."

When questioned about what he feels Foster’s All Blacks are struggling with at the moment, he said their ability to adjust and cope when things don’t go to plan appears to be one issue but their biggest problem currently is discipline.

"I do think our discipline is letting us down. We're giving away a lot of penalties for things that we shouldn't be doing. I think that has to be addressed.

"The Dane Coles incident on Saturday is unnecessary and ends up putting a lot of pressure on your team. So I think there are issues like that.

"It is a question now of the team regrouping and making sure that they come together for a very important test now in terms of the All Blacks season."

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The commentator said he doesn’t see a plan from the All Blacks when they can’t force mistakes on their opponents. Source: Breakfast

Hart added while there was plenty of critiquing going on for the All Blacks, praise also needed to be given to the Argentinians for their performance which was their first Test in 13 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

"Obviously we've got issues and it was a disappointing loss, but I think you've got to give full credit to what was a fantastic Argentinean performance – attack and defence. I haven't seen an Argentinean team play like that ever. They thoroughly deserved to win.

"We didn't quite handle the pressure of the game and there were some issues that came out of it. I think particularly discipline and also our ability to change the game when tactics aren't working. But I think we really have to give significant praise to what was a pretty special performance."

The All Blacks now have a bye this week before they finish their 2020 international season against Argentina next Saturday 28 November.