All Blacks fans uncertain as Robertson era begins, England confident ahead of 1st Test

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – After a nearly 17-month wait, New Zealand teams can finally see what All Blacks rugby will look like under new New Zealand head coach Scott Robertson.

Robertson succeeded Ian Foster as head coach in March last year, but had to wait until the 2023 World Cup finals in October – which New Zealand lost to South Africa by a point – to take over.

In his long tenure, Robertson has had time to reflect on how things are, and on Thursday he unveiled his first All Blacks squad. He has brought a selection of form to the Christchurch-based Crusaders, who have led them to seven Super Rugby titles, showing no particular allegiance.

During that period when the Crusaders dominated domestic rugby, fans had a chance to gauge how Robertson was performing as a coach, how the teams under him were playing and what his style would be.

His quiet demeanor masks a sophisticated rugby brain and competitive nature. He may not be a great technical coach, but he has the ability to assemble and utilize assistants with technical skills. His talent is to get players to develop their own skills individually and to make groups work better in concert.

„You have to enjoy it. That’s one thing I’ve been able to do my whole life,” Robertson said. „You can enjoy the energy created by people and having Kiwis behind it.”

The venue is in New Zealand’s South Island this weekend.

„It’s Dunedin, the bottom of the South (Island), the bottom of the world in terms of testing,” he said. „You have to enjoy it.”

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There is considerable anticipation and trepidation among All Blacks fans heading into Saturday’s match, with uncertainty surrounding what a new era will bring. But one thing is for sure, Robertson knows how to win; His teams are flexible, adaptable and capable of finding a way through the most difficult situations.

Faithful England

England are becoming a much stronger and more talented team under head coach Steve Borthwick, who is in the early stages of his career in charge of an international team. Borthwick has also learned the art of bringing out the best in players and England have been on a steady upward curve under his guidance.

England are unashamedly confident about their chances on Saturday, while the New Zealanders are shy. Captain Jamie George says England are ready to beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time in 21 years, based on recent results against the All Blacks – a win and a draw – and the example set by the 2017 British and Irish Lions. who leveled the three-match series in New Zealand.

“The message then was that they were going to know who we were at the end of the series. That’s definitely the message again from me and this England team,” George said. “Walk towards it, embrace it, love it. What an amazing opportunity we have here. England last won here in 2003.

„We were at a charity event before we left and they asked Steve Borthwick about being on that tour. I said to the boys: 'We’ve got a chance to do something really great so that in 20 years’ time they’re going to be asking us about the success.

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England drew with New Zealand when the teams last met at Twickenham in 2022 and beat the All Blacks in the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, from which George takes inspiration. England beat Japan 52-13 in a recent match in Tokyo.

„We’re as prepared as ever to try to give players who haven’t played against New Zealand what it’s like,” George said. “Looking back at 2019, it was one of the best games I’ve ever played.

“Sometimes on special occasions like this it allows you to go where you didn’t think you could go. Winning in Dunedin requires going to some dark places.

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AP Rugby: https://apnews.com/hub/rugby

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