SYDNEY: New Zealand captain Sam Cane has fired back at critics of the team's recent performances, his captaincy and coach Ian Foster after they lost their second successive match in the Tri-Nations, and first ever to Argentina, last Saturday.
The All Blacks were beaten 25-15 by the Pumas in Sydney, a week after a 24-22 loss to the Wallabies in Brisbane and were greeted by a cavalcade of criticism from rugby-mad New Zealand.
Cane, however, said the brickbats were unfounded and that few people really knew what the team was going through.
"I think we've got amazing fans, but we've also got some pretty brutal ones," Cane told Sky Sports.
"With that, you've just got to remind yourself that, 'Hey, they might like to think they know a lot about the game of rugby, but really they don't'.
"They may know the game from what they see in the 80 minutes, but they don't see a lot of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes."
Cane was appointed captain this year and while he had led the team on three earlier occasions and skippered the Waikato Chiefs in Super Rugby, he has failed so far to have the same impact as his predecessors Kieran Read and Richie McCaw.
The team were also goaded into several displays of ill-discipline in the last two games, which has only amplified the questioning of his leadership.
"To me, if I am having my leadership questioned in public, people's opinions that really matter to me are my teammates and my coaches, who I work with every single day," Cane said.
"I've got a lot of confidence from them we're on the right track.
"For us as a team, it certainly doesn't help if we're spending our time online reading hateful, disrespectful comments."
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)