Former England head coach Clive Woodward questioned the decision making of Steve Hansen against the British and Irish Lions as he heaped pressure on the All Blacks boss.
World champions New Zealand came unstuck as they attempted to seal the three-Test series last week, upstaged 24-21 by the Lions in Wellington.
The All Blacks were forced to play with a man less from the 25th minute after Sonny Bill Williams was sent off for a shoulder charge on Anthony Watson in the second Test, Hansen then replacing Jerome Kaino with debutant Ngani Laumape.
New Zealand - looking to avoid back-to-back defeats on home soil for the first time since 1998 - are now preparing for a do-or-die decider against the Lions in Auckland on Saturday and Woodward believes Hansen got it wrong last time out.
"I'm a fan of Steve Hansen. In fact I'm a fan of anybody who coaches at this level, and Steve has been an integral part of two World Cup wins with New Zealand. But the All Blacks coach is really under pressure this week," Woodward wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.
"Just as last week was Warren Gatland's toughest as a coach, this is the biggest test of Hansen's career. Rarely does an All Blacks coach have his back against the wall at home, but Hansen has it all to do.
"[But] I cannot understand why, when Sonny Bill Williams was sent off, Hansen decided to take off powerhouse flanker Jerome Kaino and replace him with rookie centre Ngani Laumape -- albeit Laumape is a talented player and currently the top try scorer in Super Rugby.
"It was clearly a pre-planned move -- all teams have plans to cope with such scenarios and it is a sign of a good coach who has thought through in advance what to do in scenarios like this -- but I'm still baffled.
"When a player is sent off early, what you need to do is make as few changes as possible and, ideally, you want it to be an outside back, as was the case with New Zealand.
"New Zealand needed to make no changes. The Lions pack had already shown they were in a meaner mood than at Auckland in the first Test and the forward battle was going to be much more harshly fought. I would certainly have wanted to give it until half-time to see what effect losing Williams would have on the team and adjust using the men on the pitch.
"In such a highly-physical and pivotal game, I would also question whether the rest of the New Zealand team or fans wanted to see such a totemic player as Kaino walking over to the bench and putting his tracksuit on. It felt like two for the price of one for the Lions!"