WELLINGTON (AFP) - The All Blacks have been savaged by the New Zealand news media after the three-time world champions suffered a shock first defeat to Argentina in Sydney on Saturday (Nov 14).
The 25-15 outcome was "a performance that shamed the All Blacks legacy," declared the New Zealand Herald.
"Simply awful," said the Stuff website, while Television New Zealand described the Tri-Nations upset as a "horror show" involving "sloppy" All Blacks.
Following their 24-22 loss to Australia last week, it was the first time in 122 Tests over nine years that the All Blacks have lost two consecutive matches.
"The All Blacks had nothing. Really nothing and rarely in the last 10 years, maybe even in the last 20, have they played with such a sense of being rattled and so badly outclassed," wrote Gregor Paul in the Herald.
Argentina "reduced them to a shambolic, unimaginative, uninspiring body of players that couldn't catch, couldn't pass, couldn't win their lineouts and worst of all, couldn't bring the same passion and intensity as the Pumas."
Writing for Stuff, Marc Hinton said Argentina's first 40 minutes, to lead 16-3 at the turn, "was nothing short of sensational" from a team starved of Test rugby for 13 months and hit by the coronavirus while at their first training camp.
But the All Blacks, coming off a domestic Super Rugby season and four Tests against Australia, had no answers to Argentina's passion and intensity.
"Their discipline shocking, their possession and retention game all but non-existent and their ability to work their way out of tight spots worryingly absent," Hinton said.
Former All Black John Kirwan, speaking on Sky Sport, said that Argentina, like England in the World Cup semi-finals last year, showed that when the All Blacks are under pressure "they don't have a plan B".
Radio New Zealand's Jamie Wall said the Test was supposed to have been a walkover for the All Blacks, who had never previously lost to Argentina and who were fired up after being beaten by the Wallabies seven days ago.
But "this would have to rank as one of the most pathetic performances in recent memory," Wall said, adding that murmurs about the long-term prospects for new coach Ian Foster have "been cranked up to high volume".
Foster's record since taking the helm of the All Blacks, a team with a winning record of more than 75 per cent, is two wins, two losses and a draw.
He was chosen as coach over former All Blacks Scott Robertson, who has guided the Canterbury Crusaders to four successive Super Rugby titles and who scored a last-gasp try for New Zealand to deny Argentina victory with a 24-20 win in Buenos Aires in 2001.
Wall speculated that following the emphatic defeat by Argentina "Robertson went from being essentially anointed as the next Wales coach - given their horrendous run of form of late - to now being lined up as Foster's imminent replacement."