We are massively respectful of Argentina - New Zealand coach Ian Foster ahead of Rugby World Cup semi

New Zealand's head coach Ian Foster attends a press conference, at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, on October 19, 2023, on the eve of the France 2023 Rugby World Cup semi-final match between New Zealand and Argentina

The All Blacks, three-time champions, are preparing for their ninth appearance at this stage of the Rugby World Cup, having won four of their previous eight semi-finals, but New Zealand coach Ian Foster will not be undestimating Argentina. Picture: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP

Published Oct 19, 2023


New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said on Thursday past Rugby World Cup semi-finals will count for nothing during this weekend's last four game with Argentina.

The All Blacks, three-time champions, are preparing for their ninth appearance at this stage of the tournament, having won four of their previous eight semi-finals.

They are just one game away from next Saturday's final against England or South Africa, after last weekend's tense quarter-final success over Ireland.

History suggests it should be no contest. Of the 36 matches between the two sides, the All Blacks have won 33, Argentina two and there has been one draw.

Record of no contest

At the World Cup, the record shows a convincing 3-0 advantage to New Zealand.

Foster, however, insists his team are taking nothing for granted.

"We are massively respectful of Argentina," he told reporters before Friday's match in Paris.

"If you go into a World Cup semi-final with any expectation that the past is going to happen again, you have got problems," the 58-year-old added.

The Pumas, considered serious underdogs for the meeting, will feature in just their third World Cup semi-final after beating Wales last weekend in the last eight.

In 2007 they lost to South Africa in the semi-finals, going on to beat France in the third place play-off, and eight years later in 2015 it was Australia, coached by current Pumas' boss Michael Cheika, who denied them a place in the final against the All Blacks.

Cheika's side have lost just once so far during this tournament, a ham-fisted opening defeat at the hands of 14-man England.

They face the All Blacks on an annual basis in The Rugby Championship, and beat them last August in New Zealand.

‘Difficult opponents’

"I've been really impressed with Argentina, how they've carried their campaign," Foster said.

"It was a great victory against Wales where they showed their tenacity.

"We know they've got that as we play them regularly and they've been difficult opponents. So there will be no surprises.”

Former New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter, who won the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, observed training this week on the outskirts of the French capital.

"We couldn't get too close to Dan as he had a nice cream jacket on which meant none of us could hug him as we were all dirty," Foster joked.

"He was pretty protective about getting that dirty too so we kept our distance, but it was great having him in," he added.

The Argentina forwards, who imposed themselves so well against the Welsh in the quarter-final, will again play a major part with the All Blacks likely to pay special attention to No. 8 Facundo Isa who will win his 50th cap for the Pumas in Paris.

"He is a good player. He looks fit, powerful," Foster said.

"They have got a lot of damaging ball carriers and he is probably at the top of the tree," he added.