One of Jason Ryan’s greatest qualities, according to his colleagues, is his honesty and two days into his new job there has been no avoiding the question of recent performances by All Blacks forwards. .
“The All Blacks squad was dented, it really was, and so was the shirt,” he said.
That was the refreshingly candid verdict delivered by Ryan in Wellington on Tuesday on his first media assignment as All Blacks forwards coach after replacing sacked John Plumtree.
Ryan, who has built an impressive track record as a Crusaders forwards coach under his good friend Scott Robertson over the past six years, also revealed his surprise at being called up recently by the head coach. of the All Blacks, Ian Foster.
Ryan was in Fiji at the time in his capacity as assistant coach of his national team and was relaxing with a local beer after a training session when he was called out by Foster.
“I was kind of shocked, but it was a special, really special time for my family, but it’s great to have the job, now I have to do it,” Ryan told reporters.
And that, along with the reputational damage suffered by the All Black pack last year and in their recent series loss to Ireland, is the crux of the matter.
Ryan, an addition to the coaching staff announced on Sunday along with Plumtree ax and full-backs coach Brad Mooar, has some work to do before the All Blacks travel to South Africa for two Tests against the champions of the world who will examine the capacity of their pack like few others.
Read more: Plumtree and Mooar axed as All Blacks ring coaches change
He said there was ‘no hiding’ of the strikers’ recent lackluster performances before hinting at his work as a panelist, and was open about the meetings he has had so far with his proteges .
“We haven’t hidden anything. We were really honest and we have to be. We have to get on with it. »
When asked what specifically needed to be changed, Ryan replied: “Well we have to stop the mauls for sure, so there’s a bit of work to do on that and in our contact area.”
Ryan, who has crafted one of the best maul defenses in Super Rugby, should be well qualified to lead this improvement after watching the All Blacks concede two such tries against the Irish in the third Test.
When asked if he needed to cram in a lot of information ahead of the Springbok Test on August 7-14 (NZT), he replied: “I haven’t tried to cram in a lot of stuff. , it’s the opposite. , I took some stuff off and just gave them two things [to work on]. That was all my focus.
“We’ve obviously worked a lot on the mutilation stuff and we’ve done a bit on the contact patch. Just getting them to really understand what they’re trying to achieve and what they’re really trying to believe in has been the big .
“Honestly, I can’t wait. There’s no better environment, country or team to test yourself as a forwards coach, but in all honesty it’s all about the boys – it it’s about the All Blacks and where is this team at and where is the attacking pack. . We have to be quick learners pretty quickly.”
When asked why he decided to leave the Crusaders for the All Blacks at a time of intense pressure and scrutiny on the national team, Ryan replied: “I will answer very clearly. It’s lucky to coach my country and it was a dream to always be a forwards coach for the All Blacks. I can’t wait to get in there.
The new All Blacks forwards coach said he had a “great time” with Robertson, who took a chance ahead of the 2017 season before winning six championships together.
“I’m a loyal person and we had a good chat and good coffee. He wished me all the best and it was a good time.”
When asked if it was ironic that he joined head coach Foster when he was originally on Robertson’s ‘ticket’ to the All Blacks in 2019, Ryan replied: ” I’m on the All Black ticket.”
Ryan denied it was a tough conversation with Robertson, who was spurned for the top job three years ago despite his unprecedented success at Super Rugby level.
“Like I said, I’m a loyal person, so initially it was. I care a lot – he’s done a lot for me – but like I said, he’s been really supportive and c that’s all I wanted.”
And, after a final response about his “tremendous” respect for the Boks, Ryan walked, duct tape needed to counter the novelty of his All Black-issued boots, showing clearly above his right heel. A man on a new mission.