You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Tony Brown feels much the same as most All Blacks fans.
The national team’s current malaise was "a bit concerning", he said yesterday.
Brown, who played 18 tests for the All Blacks, was careful to emphasise how happy he was helping fellow former Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph with Japan but acknowledged he still had a desire to coach his native land.
He watched the All Blacks lose the home series to Ireland and was struck by the inconsistency they showed.
"I think Ireland played really well — that’s the first thing. They were really consistent with how they played.
"I think the All Blacks were searching for a style of play that was going to win the series but it was just really inconsistent.
"They performed pretty well in the first test but backed that up with a really poor performance in Dunedin, and then they got put under pressure and they couldn’t perform again.
"Yeah, it’s a bit concerning, really, for New Zealand rugby. You just don’t normally see the All Blacks have two bad tests in a row."
The All Blacks have lost four of their past five tests and are under immense pressure to win one or both of the tests in South Africa over the next two weekends.
While head coach Ian Foster is under the pump, assistants John Plumtree and Brad Mooar have already been punted.
"Coaching is an enjoyable job but your head is on the chopping block at times, and if you’re not performing, the coach has got to take responsibility," Brown said.
"Sometimes just a change of voice can actually inspire a team to be better, so hopefully that’s what has happened."
Brown and Joseph have long been considered contenders to coach the All Blacks.
While he was lobbied by both Foster and Scott Robertson to join the All Blacks after Japan’s impressive efforts at home during the 2019 World Cup, Brown elected to commit his future to the Brave Blossoms.
The question remains: does he fancy coaching the All Blacks?
"I potentially had an opportunity after the last World Cup to jump into the All Blacks, but my desire to stay coaching with Jamie and to continue what we were doing in Japan was exciting. I’ve got another year with Japan. The next World Cup going to be huge for us.
"I’ve got no plans after that. I’m not sure about Jamie. But I’m sure, if the All Black job comes up and the timing is right, it’s something we’d love to get involved with."