Rugby: Crusaders coach Scott Robertson reserves All Blacks judgment after tour-ending losses to Ireland, France

Crusaders coach Scott Robertson has deftly sidestepped the opportunity to pour more salt on the wounded All Blacks, as they limp home from their tough three-month tour through Australia, USA and Europe.

The national team ended their campaign with consecutive losses to Ireland and France, drawing predictable scorn from critics back home, many of whom favoured Robertson over Ian Foster as head coach.

Secure through the next World Cup, Foster has now suffered back-to-back losses in each of the first two years of his tenure and faces difficult questions over whether he can right the All Blacks' shortcomings in time to challenge for the crown.

As he announced his Crusaders squad for the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific, Robertson was quizzed on the NZ team results and skilfully avoided a straight answer.

"With the All Black stuff, I'll leave my point of view private property," he says. "They're hurting at the moment.

"I do have my opinions on it, but I think it's probably not the right time to express them.

"I observed like everyone else, but I'll hold my judgment on it - I think it's professional that I do that."

Twelve Crusaders have been part of the 15-match All Blacks schedule and some have probably slipped out of form as the campaign progressed. Others, like Ethan Blackadder and Will Jordan, have emerged as potential stars on the international stage.

Robertson admits keeping a close eye on his charges during the tour and plans a thorough transition back into the Crusaders environment, once they have cleared COVID-19 quarantine.

"I look at a bit of everything, but mainly our own boys to see how they're going," he says. "You have such a critical eye about how they play, and what are their trademarks  and how they deliver.

"I don't give them too much feedback - they get enough on tour - but you see what rhythm and mindset they're in. They'll do their reviews in MIQ and we'll get handed those, and then we'll do our own one on what's required when they transition back into pre-Christmas and post-Christmas, so we get the best out of them." 

The Crusaders open their Super Rugby Pacific account at home against the Highlanders on February 19.