Written by Max Sharp.
Ian Foster survived a mid-year review from New Zealand Rugby and just a test match later, the All Blacks have succumbed to their first-ever loss to Argentina on New Zealand soil, having first lost to Los Pumas, in Foster's first season as All Blacks Head Coach. The first half appeared promising, with a 15-12 margin at half-time, though discipline proved worrying as Los Pumas fought back, the All Blacks lost by 18-25. Discussions about New Zealand Rugby's Board and CEO, Mark Robinson, will await another article, so for now we'll have a look at the performances of the players, from jersey 1 through to 23.
All Blacks Player Ratings
Loosehead Prop - Ethan de Groot (8/10)
After back-to-back outstanding starts at test level, we all know there was no justification for leaving him out in the mid-year series. Though he made just 1 pass, 3 tackles and 1 turnover, this was the single turnover won by the entire team. Brilliant scrummaging and ruck speed too.
Hooker - Samisoni Taukei'aho (9/10)
The country's undisputed best hooker now. With 12 metres, 1 defender beaten and another 10 post-contact metres, Taukei'aho's 5 carries were powerful, while he scored a try off a driving maul and made the second-to-most tackles of the team, with 8. Should have played the entire match.
Tighthead Prop - Tyrel Lomax (6/10)
Gave away a few penalties, but played his part in keeping the team's high possession rate. Lomax was also able to perform well in the scrum, while making 6 tackles. Probably should have played more minutes than just 44.
Lock 4 - Sam Whitelock (3/10)
Outmuscled when carrying, managing just 1 metre from 3 carries. 2 passes and 6 tackles were the only other stats of note. Would benefit from a rest during the end-of-year tour to ensure fitness for the 2023 Rugby World Cup; we will need him at full strength for that.
Lock 5 - Scott Barrett (6/10)
Played the full 80 for his home crowd, but was restricted to 17 metres off 8 carries. Made accurate passes off the lineout and made 8 tackles, tied with Taukei'aho and Cane for the second-most tackles. Probably the best he could have done in a tight game like this.
Blindside Flanker - Shannon Frizell (5/10)
Frizell had a mixed game to say the least. Muscling up with ball-in-hand, he ran 30 metres off 8 carries, 5 passes and 2 offloads. Though this was the case, he wasn't the most reliable in the lineout, while missing a crucial tackle on try-scorer Juan Martin Gonzalez, while also being yellow-carded with 10 minutes left.
Openside Flanker - Sam Cane (2/10)
8/8 tackles were likely his only positive contribution of the match. Just 2 metres off 3 carries, while failing to win any turnovers. Guilty of an offside tackle, not rolling away at a ruck and a cheap shot on Pablo Matera, these penalties for Cane all lead directly to Argentina kicking for goal. Cane, the captain, being subbed off in the 66th minute while behind on the scoreboard, is a symptom of a dysfunctional team.
Number 8 - Ardie Savea (7/10)
Even the world's best 8 was being pushed back on attack. Though Savea was one of just two starting forwards to beat a defender, he was constricted to 28 metres off 10 carries. Plenty of passes, with 9, as well as 1 offload, the team's top tackler with 10/10. Our true captain.
Halfback - Aaron Smith (2/10)
Offered nothing outside of passing off the base of breakdowns. Has had a great career, with plenty of trophies, but at 33 years old is now, sadly, a spent force. Just 1 tackle, missing his other attempt in the lead up to Gonzalez' try, while he lacked communication.
First-Five - Richie Mo'unga (6/10)
There's more to the game than stats. Mo'unga may have run 99 metres and beat 1 defender from 11 carries, while also making 6/8 tackles, his control of the game well and truly faded in the second half though. The majority of his 18 passes were in the first half, while a poor kick was his start to the game. Not much above average.
Left Wing - Caleb Clarke (6/10)
Given few opportunities on attack, but put his 8 carries to brilliant effect, with 47 metres run and 1 defender beaten. Found out with defensive positioning again though, which was disappointing after a stunning finish while scoring his try.
Second-Five - David Havili (4/10)
There's no sugar coating it, he didn't have a good game. Havili lacked involvement with tactical kicking, running exclusively as a crash-ball option for just 13 metres off 7 carries. 6 passes and 6 tackles could have been better, Havili is a player capable of much more.
Centre - Rieko Ioane (3/10)
Not Ioane's night either; he was only used on attack nine times. Though he made 36 metres and beat a defender off 7 carries, Ioane made just 2 passes and 3 tackles. Are all of the keyboard warriors right about him being better at wing?
Right Wing - Will Jordan (4/10)
Your team is in major trouble when a talent like this has scored just twice in 2022. Jordan was poor under the high ball and confined to just 29 metres from 7 carries. Operated as a distributor with 5 passes and 1 offload, but struggled to generate anything.
Fullback - Jordie Barrett (6/10)
The old cliche of solid rather than spectacular. Barrett ran 63 metres, beat 1 defender and was the only back to make a linebreak in his 8 carries. His 9 passes didn't really link up with other players, while his high ball performance wasn't quite top notch.
Reserve Hooker - Codie Taylor (1/10)
World Rugby's best hooker of 2021 has continued his massive fall from grace. Poor lineout throwing and low ruck speed were near-heartbreaking to see, as this player can no longer reach his incredible best. Nothing good to say about Taylor's performance. I feel for him.
Reserve Loosehead Prop - George Bower (3/10)
Don't let the stats fool you. Bower's ruck speed was poor, while he, like Smith, missed an easy tackle that lead to Gonzalez' try. 18 metres, 1 defender beaten and 1 clean break go outside the core roles of a prop, the scrum and the breakdown. Bower is out of his depth and I genuinely feel for him with the ongoing calls from Foster, Bower is a gentleman off the pitch.
Reserve Tighthead Prop - Fletcher Newell (5/10)
The young number 18 had decent ruck speed but failed to make any tackles due to the All Blacks' high possession rate. Strong performance in the scrum, but wasn't too involved elsewhere. He'll keep improving for sure.
Reserve Lock - Tupou Vaa'i (No rating)
A young prodigy who would start for most international teams... yet Vaa'i didn't even come on. He deserved better.
Reserve Loose Forward - Akira Ioane (No rating)
On for Cane with 14 minutes left and won't be rated after little game time, making just 2 tackles and running 6 metres off 5 carries.
Reserve Halfback - Finlay Christie (4/10)
Passing game wasn't quite up to scratch compared to some previous performances at test level, couldn't quite combine with Mo'unga.
Reserve First-Five - Stephen Perofeta (No rating)
After missing the first 5 tests of 2022, Perofeta, who was once eligible for Samoa, finally made his test debut against Argentina but came on for Jordie Barrett with just 50 seconds left, failing to even touch the ball on debut. Disgusting treatment of a brilliant player who deserves better. Start him at 10 next week.
Reserve Midfielder - Quinn Tupaea (5/10)
On for Rieko Ioane with 12 minutes left and only got to make 3 carries, running 10 metres. Would have done well if he came on earlier.