Rugby Championship: The Breakdown – Foster backs 'hurting' All Blacks to bounce back

·4-min read

Ian Foster has backed his New Zealand team to banish their home blues in Saturday's Rugby Championship tussle with Argentina at Waikato Stadium.

The All Blacks have lost their last three Tests at home for the first time in their history, with two defeats to Ireland followed by last week's shock 25-18 loss to Argentina in Christchurch.

They had only lost three times across their prior 73 games on home soil (W67, D3, L3), so this is a crisis and head coach Foster must find a solution.

He has picked an unchanged XV, saying his team have trained well this week and trusting them to deliver a display "everyone can be proud of".

"But we've been pretty ruthless and hard on ourselves behind the scenes," Foster said. "We are hurting with where the team's at."

His belief is that the players who suffered so badly last week should play again, with the purpose of them regaining confidence. That could always backfire.

While New Zealand and Argentina go head to head in Hamilton, Australia and South Africa clash at Sydney's new Allianz Stadium.

Here, Stats Perform previews the weekend clashes in round four of the championship using Opta data.

South Africa
South Africa

NEW ZEALAND v ARGENTINA

FORM

Foster would surely struggle to ride out the criticism if his team are beaten again by the Pumas, who will be aiming for back-to-back wins in men's Tests against New Zealand for the first time.

New Zealand have lost four of their six Tests in 2022 (W2) and only twice in their history have they lost more in a calendar year (L6 – 1949 and L5 – 1998).

The All Blacks have gained more metres (1,321) and made more offloads (27) than any other team in the Rugby Championship this year, but they have not made the most of those statistical wins.

Argentina are seeking a third consecutive win in the tournament, having never achieved such a run before, and they have the best success rate on lineout throws of any team (90 per cent – 37/41); however, no team have stolen more opposition lineouts in the competition this year than New Zealand (6).

ONES TO WATCH

New Zealand number eight Ardie Savea has made more carries (36) and offloads (6) than any other player in the tournament, while his 24 tackles ranks second among All Blacks (Sam Cane – 30).

Argentina are the kings of the tackle, making 145 tackles per game so far – the most by any team. Marcos Kremer (42), Tomas Lavanini (39), Julian Montoya (38) and Pablo Matera (33) have made more tackles than any other players across all the four competing teams.

AUSTRALIA v SOUTH AFRICA

FORM

The 25-18 win last week in Adelaide means Australia have won each of their last three men's Tests against South Africa after winning just one in six previously (D2, L3). The last time the Wallabies enjoyed a longer winning run against the Springboks was a five-match span from September 2010 to September 2012.

They remain without captain Michael Hooper, who has taken time out to deal with personal matters, but have two wins from three games so far in this competition. They had won just one of five games prior to the Rugby Championship getting under way.

Results in Sydney have not been kind to Australia of late, with just one win coming in their last 10 such games (D1, L8), but they have won their last seven matches on the bounce against South Africa in the city.

World champions South Africa have lost their last two Tests, as many as in their eight games prior (W6, L2). Curiously, the Springboks have led at half-time on the day just twice across that 10-game span.

South Africa have the best scrum success rate (19/22) and have won more scrum penalties (7) than any other team in the championship.

ONES TO WATCH

South Africa will be without key centre Lukhanyo Am who has made more line breaks – six – than any other player in this year's Rugby Championship. Jesse Kriel is set to take over from Am in midfield.

In wing Makazole Mapimpi, the Boks at least have the player next on that list with five line breaks. Eight changes to the Boks starting line-up have come about due to injuries and form, with the visitors looking to step up a level after last week's disappointment.

Australia have named an unchanged XV, and Fraser McReight's two tries in Adelaide make him a player to watch. Len Ikitau has made 11 tackle breaks in the campaign so far, the joint-most of any player in the campaign (also Rieko Ioane – 11 for New Zealand).