Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has opted to keep his view on the All Blacks private, but the vast majority of fans believe he should take over from under-fire All Blacks coach Ian Foster, according to a Herald readers' poll.
The All Blacks fell to a second straight defeat over the weekend to France, the first time the side have lost back-to-back tests since 1999, sparking a wave of calls for Foster to be replaced as head coach.
It was also the first time the All Blacks lost three tests in a season – with defeats to the Springboks, Ireland and France – since 2009. You have to go back even further to 1973 for the last time the All Blacks lost two consecutive tests against Northern hemisphere opponents in the same season.
The two latest defeats came at the back end of a gruelling tour for the All Blacks, in which they left New Zealand at the end of August and have played 10 tests in 13 weeks. Despite that fans are not convinced with the current coach.
Based on a Herald readers' poll with over 18,000 votes released yesterday, 80 per cent of fans want Foster to be replaced by Robertson, while only 4.5 per cent wanted the All Blacks to stick with Foster as coach. Five per cent thought nether Foster or Robertson are the answer, while 10 per cent believed the All Blacks should bring in Robertson alongside Foster.
"I know we get judged harshly but if I reflect on the year we're making progress. We've got a good base of players now we're growing but we're also learning some tough lessons at the end of this long season that big test matches come down to big moments and we've got to get our composure right and perhaps understand our game better," Foster said yesterday.
"We got a couple of markers from Ireland and France but we've also played some good rugby this year so we're progressing in the right way.
"There is a little bit of us slipping away in the last two tests but I don't want to disrespect two performances against us that have been top drawer. I look at the balance of it, the likes of South Africa, Australia and us, we've probably all run out of juice a bit towards the end but the top six or seven teams in world rugby now are strong.
"We'll go and regroup from that and know there's still work to do but we've got some good options now."
Asked about the All Blacks situation today following the announcement of the New Zealand Super Rugby Pacific squads for next season, Robertson said he would rather keep his view on the matter private.
"With the All Blacks stuff I'll leave my point of view private probably," Robertson said. "They're hurting at the moment. I've got my opinions on it but it's probably not the right time to express them.
"I've observed like everyone else but I'll hold my judgement on it. It's probably professional that I do that."
However, it hasn't stopped fans from expressing their views on the All Blacks coaching job, with many voicing their opinions on Newstalk ZB and social media.
Robertson, who has led the Crusaders to five Super Rugby titles, signed on in July to coach the Christchurch-based franchise until 2024.
However, he negotiated several clauses which will allow him to leave the team earlier, including the option to leave the Crusaders in 2023 if he isn't made All Blacks coach by then.
"If I don't get the job, there is an exit [clause] after '23, but if I want to stay around I can and that's the part of the loyalty and that was probably why it took a bit longer than we'd hoped for, just to make sure we get the wording right," Robertson said at the time.
"Whenever the next All Blacks role comes up, that's still my goal, my clear goal, and I've got opportunities if I don't get it, and if I do get it, great."
A month later, the All Blacks announced a contract extension for Foster until the 2023 World Cup.
Foster's winning percentage has dropped to 71.4 per cent following his fifth defeat in charge.
With 21 tests under Foster, the All Blacks have 15 victories along with a draw.
With the defeat to France, he became the first All Blacks coach in the modern era to lose consecutive tests in his first two years on the job.
Foster beat out Robertson for the All Blacks head coach job in December 2019 after a long interview process, taking over from Steve Hansen.