After the All Blacks began the Ian Foster era with a 16-all draw against the Wallabies, plenty of heat fell onto the new coach's shoulders.
An Australian publication wrote that Foster failed his first test at the helm; former Wallaby David Campese said Foster 'won't last'; a columnist in New Zealand questioned whether John Plumtree had backed the wrong horse by taking an assistant coaching role on Foster's staff.
But former All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu said the heat that came following that test was premature.
"There were so many things to factor in," Mealamu told the Herald. "You have to factor in Covid, the team hadn't spent as much time together as they would have liked, and the fact the Australian side played really well; that's probably one of the best test matches I've seen them play in a long time and then I think with a new coaching staff with the All Blacks as well, a new captain – these are all things you have to take into context."
The next weekend, the All Blacks impressed in a 27-7 win over the Wallabies in an improved and more physical performance.
Mealamu wasn't surprised by the bounce back.
"With the first test of the year for the All Blacks, it's usually not as clean as we would like to see it; it's usually the second test that the guys get the chance to get a little bit quicker on their feet; they're always a side that adapts really quickly, and we've seen how well they can lift their performance from one week to the next; that's definitely what we saw last weekend at Eden Park."
There was plenty made of Foster's appointment to the head coaching role after Steve Hansen stepped away following last year's Rugby World Cup, after New Zealand Rugby chose to go with a familiar face over successful Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.
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Like Hansen before him, Foster's appointment was a case of succession from assistant to head coach. But while it might not have been the popular decision with the public and, therefore, seeing Foster under a particular level of scrutiny, Mealamu said the players were "privileged" to be able to play under him.
"Fozzie's got an amazing rugby knowledge," Mealamu explained.
"I was lucky enough to play under him as a player and his understanding of the game... man, you're privileged as a player to be able to learn under his coaching because he's someone who knows the details well, and it pairs that up with being someone who's very personable.
"Those are two qualities that make him a great coach as well as someone everyone respects because of the type of man he is as well."