Our rugby writers tackle all the big questions ahead of the first test between the All Blacks and South Africa this weekend.
If the series between the All Blacks and South Africa ends in a 1-1 tie, Ian Foster will....
Liam Napier: Probably be safe, though it likely depends on the nature of the performances. There is an agreement in place to assess the All Blacks after their first five tests of this year so the 2-1 series defeat against Ireland will be factored into the equation, too.
Jason Pine: Remain under immense pressure. After the series loss to Ireland, rugby fans here will need to see an instant reaction and a squared series will mean that response hasn't been unequivocal. Of course, it's possible the All Blacks may lift their game and still lose one of the tests because of the enormity of the challenge of winning back-to-back tests in South Africa, but the mood of the rugby nation at present will only really be lifted by a clean sweep.
Alice Soper: Have bought himself a little more time. The search for his replacement will still likely be taking place but this might move back behind closed doors. The calls for his replacement will also be more muffled if the scoreline is flattering to the changes already made.
Christopher Reive: Retain his position, but remain under pressure for the rest of the Rugby Championship. A 1-1 series tie against the Springboks in South Africa would be a good result for the All Blacks, and most likely evidence of some noticeable improvements from what they displayed against Ireland.
And if the All Blacks win the series, he will....
Napier: Be crowing, and rightly so. The last time the All Blacks played successive tests in South Africa was 2009 - and they lost on both occasions.
Pine: Deserve a heck of a lot of credit. It's been just three weeks since the defeat in Wellington, so if Foster is able to oversee a 2-0 series win in South Africa, even his harshest critics will have to grudgingly admit he's got the ability to adapt, adjust and improve his side in super-quick time.
Soper: Have survived, for now but surely someone else will lose their job over how this has all played out. It's been an embarrassment to the NZR brand to see how quickly this has descended into public sniping. Trust me, if anyone is to understand why you would want to speak out publicly about concerns you have about a team you love, it'd be me! But there are a lot of voices that should be being heard within that organisation rather than within the media and questions still to be asked about why that's not happening.
Reive: Continue to go about his business trying to get the All Blacks to a level they need to be at to win the 2023 Rugby World Cup. He will probably get little (if any) credit for the turnaround between the two series, but perhaps he might be able to work with a little less heat coming in his direction.
If the All Blacks lose the series 2-0, New Zealand Rugby will move quickly to...
Napier: Make further changes. Assistant coaches John Plumtree and Brad Mooar have already been moved on. In this worst-case scenario, with six losses from their last seven tests, Ian Foster's position would be untenable.
Pine: Do whatever is needed to get Scott Robertson onboard. A whitewash in the Republic would mean six losses in the last seven tests, a record no All Blacks head coach can possibly survive. Razor is a ready-made replacement and probably the only man who has the personality and force of will to turn the All Blacks ship around in time to challenge for the World Cup in just over a year.
Soper: Make Foster the fall guy for the risk aversion and exported rugby coaching IQ which has led to this moment. Whether they will learn the greater lesson, on appointment processes and rebalancing the tensions between their commercial and high performance interests remains to be seen. But if it's anything like the application of the lessons of the Black Ferns review, I won't be holding my breath.
Reive: Move on from Ian Foster. Losing 2-0 to South Africa in South Africa is not a horror story if the games are close. But NZR will jump to panic stations - despite him having the support of the dressing room. They have yet to come out and say that he is the man to take them to the 2023 World Cup – and they have had plenty of chances to do so. Given they just replaced two coaches, they will likely decide to carry on with that change.
What storyline (not involving Ian Foster) are you most interested in for the All Blacks' first test against South Africa?
Napier: Jason Ryan's impact. In many respects it's unfair to assess Ryan's influence in the two weeks he's been with the team - yet the noises emanating from the All Blacks camp about his impact on improving the maul and breakdown suggest the former Crusaders forwards guru could make an immediate impression.
Pine: Caleb Clarke's return to the side. On his day, he's as destructive a winger as you'll find, but his five tests (all in 2020), yielded just one try. Having not played a test in the time since, how will he fit back into the side and can he be the spark the backline needs?
Soper: Rugby World Cup 2023 and how the teams are travelling as we hurtle quickly towards that tournament. There has been a lot of movement since the pools were drawn of the men's world rankings and there could be more after these test results. We are at our lowest ever level of fourth, will we dip further and enter the World Cup as underdogs?
Reive: What the All Blacks attack looks like and how they structure their plays – if at all. OK, that still involves Foster, just not in a head coaching scope, but against Ireland, the All Blacks relied too much on individual brilliance to score points. Yes, they have the talent there to be able to do that, but it's not going to fly against elite opposition.
Will South Africa away be a harder test for the All Blacks than Ireland at home?
Napier: I'm going to twist the answer by saying it's very different. The Springboks style contrasts Ireland in that their attacking intent is much more direct and confrontational - and therefore potentially easier to plan for. The Boks will largely maul, scrum, bash, crash. They also kick more, and don't manipulate the defence nearly as much as Ireland did to the All Blacks. South African atmospheres are like nothing else but for those All Blacks who remain composed, playing in that environment can be inspirational too.
Pine: It'll be just as challenging, but in a different way. Ireland outplayed and out-thought the All Blacks across their three-test series and were deserved winners. South Africa will sniff the rare chance to face an All Blacks side low on confidence and will fully believe they can inflict further pain on their fiercest rivals.
Soper: The fortress of Eden Park offered us some protection against the Irish and there will be no such luxury over in South Africa. This rivalry is fierce at the best of times and both teams have something to prove after the start of their season. It's not about to get any easier for the men in black.
Reive: It certainly should be. The All Blacks haven't made the trip to South Africa since before the last World Cup and with South African teams no longer in Super Rugby, taking on the Springboks at altitude will be a completely new experience for many players in the All Blacks squad. Then there's the fact that the Springboks are fielding a very strong team with a powerful pack and a backline capable of attacking from anywhere. The All Blacks have a huge test in front of them.
Prediction for first test?
Napier: Springboks by 3.
Pine: An absolute battle. I honestly can't pick it, which makes this one of the most intriguing tests in recent memory.
Soper: This is the tipping point as to whether we are going to see the All Blacks of my childhood or the All Blacks of the last decade. If they can shake off the outside noise and come together as a group, it will sort out a lot of New Zealand Rugby's headaches.
I have the feeling the us against the world narrative will be used to New Zealand's advantage and reckon it'll be the All Blacks by 12 and under.
Reive: The Springboks will edge this one. I expect there are some indications of improvement from the All Blacks, but the home advantage will give the Springboks that extra lift they need and they'll finish strong to get the job done.