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Fitzpatrick's dour outlook for NZ rugby

27/07/2008 02:22:29 PM Comments (0)

All Blacks great Sean Fitzpatrick has declared New Zealand rugby in trouble in the wake of the Wallabies' victory in the opening Bledisloe Cup contest.

The former New Zealand captain renewed calls for the national union to change its rules and select offshore players, with so many of the country's stars having exited for the northern hemisphere since last year's World Cup.

Fitzpatrick, expressed grave fears for New Zealand rugby's future after back to back Tri Nations series losses to South Africa and Australia.

"There is an inescapable conclusion from that 34-19 loss to the Wallabies last night - and it has to do with the state of New Zealand rugby right now. We are in quite a bit of trouble," wrote Fitzpatrick in his NZ newspaper column.

"I said in a recent column - which drew some criticism - that it was time to select All Blacks playing offshore, before the All Blacks started to lose.

"Now that particular chicken is coming home to roost. I am sure I do not have to spell out what will happen to New Zealand rugby if the All Blacks continue to lose and lose their mana.

"... For what it's worth, I think the All Blacks will probably re-gather and win in Auckland against Australia this week.

"But I'm afraid that until the NZRU address these wider off-field issues, we will just be papering over the cracks again."

In England, Sunday Times writer Stephen Jones said the winning margin could have been even higher and that Deans' Wallabies were on their way back to "respectability and perhaps even hegemony in world rugby".

Jones wrote: "New Zealand were once again revealed as possessing terrific effort and commitment, yet very little in terms of true world class.

"They were also shown to be a one-trick pony, as all they had was a game of endless passing and movement without reference points.

"Once Australia had learned how to slow them down in the second half, the visitors had absolutely nowhere to go and their incoherence in some parts of the second half was an embarrassment."

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