Tri Nations: Players, not Ian Foster to blame for All Blacks' Pumas debacle - John Hart

Former All Blacks coach John Hart says it's too early to blame Ian Foster for two sub-par performances.

Following back-to-back losses for the first time in nine years, Foster is a man under pressure just five tests into his regime.

Two wins, a draw and two losses is the worst five-game start to an All Blacks coaching career in 60 years, and with the charismatic and highly successful Scott Robertson lurking in the background, there have been calls for Foster’s head.

But Hart, who coached the national side from 1996-99, has pointed his finger at the players, telling Newstalk ZB that Foster can only do so much from the coaching booth.

"He'll be feeling the pressure, but it’s early days," Hart says. "I think it's a collective thing here.

"The coach can [only] do so much, we all well know that, but I think in the end, on the field on Saturday, we didn't quite see the finesse that we need and a lot of that has to be the players. 

"The players have got to have a really hard look at themselves at the moment, rather than just focus on the coach.

"We didn't quite handle the pressure of the game and there were some issues that came out of it."

John Hart
John Hart Photo credit: Photosport

Hart is particularly scathing of the lack of discipline shown across both the loss to Australia in Brisbane and the mauling by Pumas on Saturday.

The All Blacks lost Ofa Tuungafasi to a red card in the first half against the Wallabies, followed by Scott Barrett's cynical sin-binning offence in the dying stages, with the game hanging in the balance.

Against Argentina, Shannon Frizell and Dane Coles were both guilty of lashing out, costing the All Blacks field position and points.

"I do think our discipline is letting us down," Hart says. "We're giving away a lot of penalties for things that we shouldn't be doing.

"I think that has to be addressed. The Dane Coles incident on Saturday was unnecessary and ended up putting a lot of pressure on his team, so I think there are issues like that.

"It is a question now of the team regrouping and making sure that they come together for a very important test in terms of the All Blacks season."

Hart says praising the opposition is important, before laying blame on why the All Blacks have hit the skids.