During the 1990's the All Blacks lost their invincible tag and turned into just another side. This began in earnest in 1990 when the AB's lost the third test in the Bledisloe Cup to Australia, having already won the series. The side looked tired and John Kirwan's legendary speed was gone following an injury in 1989. The Kiwi's then toured France and lost a pair of games to lowly French club sides, leaving a nation shellshocked.
Things went further downhill in 1991, as the AB's lost to Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup game 21-12, with players such as the Whetton brothers, Steve McDowell, Bernie Mcahill all looking past their best. It could be argued Mcahill never had one. A pathetic 6-3 win at Eden Park saw the AB's retain the shield, yet they could thank Michael Lynagh for missing 34 penalties. This shoddy form carried over to the World Cup, where the AB's could only beat the USA 46-6 and most humiliatingly Italy 31-21. A 29-13 win over Canada further disgraced the AB's and nobody was surprised when the Aussies pummeled them 16-6 in the semi-finals. Most pundits believed it was the removal of Wayne 'Buck' Shelford in 1990 that started the rot.
Since then the AB's have been hit and miss. They don't look tough anymore and are a far cry from the grizzled buggers who worked as laborers and sheep shearers in the amateur days. Compared to 'Cowboy' Mark Shaw and Richard Loe, the current lot are as hard as a local secondary school 1st XV.