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‘Beware of a wounded All Blacks team,’ coach Ian Foster issues warning to Springboks

Beleaguered All Blacks coach Ian Foster has issued a warning to the Springboks ahead of their Rugby Championship double-header next month

FILE - Beleaguered All Blacks coach Ian Foster has issued a warning to the Springboks ahead of their Rugby Championship double-header next month. Photo: Peter Cziborra/Reuters

Published Jul 25, 2022

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Durban — The day after All Blacks coach Ian Foster survived the chop at the expense of two of his assistants, he fronted up on live New Zealand television to explain the series defeat to Ireland and to also promise that the Boks are in for a torrid time.

Foster had been (happily) gagged by his employers from the final whistle of his team’s third Test defeat to Ireland, failing even to attend the post-match press conference, and two weeks later —at the announcement that forwards coach John Plumtree and attack coach Brad Mooar had been fired — the silence was broken.

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Foster appeared on the prime-time rugby show The Breakdown, where he was grilled by former All Blacks Jeff Wilson and Mils Miliana, and he promised the nation that the Boks are in for backlash.

“We’re a wounded All Blacks team. We’ve got a job to do over there in South Africa and we actually want to play a game New Zealanders are proud of,” he said defiantly.

“It’s not the first time we’ve been slow starters in July,” Foster said alluding to his team’s shock loss to Argentina in the opening round of last year’s Ruby Championship, a defeat that began the calls for his head. “I hate saying that, but it is reality,” Foster said. “We’ve got to speed up the gains we want and I don’t think we are that far away.

“We’re connecting the dots but we’ve got to do it quicker. There are a couple of Achilles heels in our game that we thought we had dealt with in the Irish series but they came back to bite us in that third Test. We’ve got to sort those things out and if we can, I have utter belief in the direction this group is going.”

Foster hinted that his under-pressure squad could not wait to get on the plane to South Africa after a fortnight of scathing criticism.

“We have the Rugby Championship now and we’re getting stuck into our work. We’ve got to get away from feeling oppressed by all the tension,” he admitted. “We understand that people are frustrated but, at the end of the day, that (the negativity) doesn’t help us.

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“We need clear heads, a desire to go and play, and fundamentally start doing the things we know we’re good at.”

Many of the Kiwi critics have alleged that Foster has lost the support of his players but he denied this.

“That’s one of the questions that I got them to talk about without me being in the room. There have been a lot of people putting me under pressure for a long, long time so in many ways, and this is not new to the group.

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“But part of my job is to go back and get an honest appraisal out of them about how I’m going and getting the belief factor. I’ve had it loud and clear from them, but I also know with that comes a massive responsibility. That’s only one variable.

“I believe I’ve got the group; now I’ve got to deliver the plan. Part of the changes we’ve made are about making sure I’m not taking for granted their belief in the direction I’m heading, but I’m also listening to them and making the changes we all feel we need for this team.”

The All Blacks will arrive in Johannesburg this weekend. They will be based in Johannesburg for their matches against the Springboks in Nelspruit on August 6 and Johannesburg on August 13.

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@MikeGreenaway67

IOL Sport

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