Savea challenges struggling All Blacks to return to winning ways

Reuters 12 days ago
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Aug 6 (Reuters) - All Blacks forward Ardie Savea has called on his New Zealand team mates to arrest their disappointing run of results when they take on hosts South Africa in the first of two tests in the Rugby Championship on Saturday.

Coach Ian Foster has come under intense scrutiny since losing last month's series against Ireland and the All Blacks go into the southern hemisphere's annual four-nation competition desperately in need of a win against the world champions.

"I think this week is the turning point," Savea told New Zealand media. "Don't worry about next week, we've got to nail this week. It's a turning week for us.

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"Every week we put on the black jersey is important for us. It's a chance to stake our claim and do the jersey proud."

Foster has overseen a shake-up of his backroom staff in the aftermath of the losses to Ireland, which saw the All Blacks lose a series on home soil for the first time since 1994.

The two defeats against the Irish saw New Zealand slip to four losses in their last five matches and Savea believes the onus is on the players to turn their form around.

"There's only so much coaching the coaches can do," he said. "We're the ones that are out on the field and have to execute the game plan.

"It's one thing talking about it during the week and another actually doing it. That's a massive challenge for us as players.

"We're wounded. We didn't get the result we wanted a couple of weeks ago but today is a new day, this week is a new week so it's a new challenge for us and there's no bigger challenge than the Springboks here.

"It's very exciting, it's nerve-racking as well to be honest, but we're excited for the challenge of rectifying a few things."

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Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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