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All Blacks coach Foster: ‘Ireland had enough good moments to walk away with a bit of hope’

The New Zealand coach was impressed by several aspects of Ireland’s display.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

IAN FOSTER IS refusing to rule out the possibility of an Irish comeback in this series.

Despite winning comfortably this evening, Foster believed Ireland showed enough spirit to remain contenders in this three-match series, after a game where Ireland won the possession battle but were soundly defeated on the scoreboard.

“I thought we saw a very determined Irish team tonight,” said Foster. “They would have had enough glimpses of good moments in that first quarter particularly, and the way they finished, to walk away with a bit of hope.

“Whilst we were ruthless with where we scored points, we were put under a lot of pressure, and particularly defensively I would have just given us just a pass mark. I thought our goal-line stuff was excellent, but we allowed them too many opportunities to get in behind us.”

For Foster, victory brought relief, New Zealand staring down the face of a third successive loss, something that hasn’t happened in 24 years.

“It was the first test, and it’s good to have a good win under your belt,” said Foster. “We stated before this series was really big for us.

ian-foster-after-the-game The All Blacks coach, Ian Foster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“When you look at the bigger picture it’s a chance to play a team we’ve got massive respect for, we know is doing really well and bringing them down here for three in a row is pretty special.”

Foster’s week was disrupted by an outbreak of Covid in the All Black camp. Struck down by the virus on Tuesday, he had to isolate at home while trying to coach the team from a distance. He only hooked up with the squad again today.

“I thought the work of Sam Cane (the New Zealand captain) and our leaders this week was phenomenal. They took on a big load, and Brad (Mooar, Foster’s assistant coach) did an awesome job on the ground.

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“It was a very unique week, and to be involved in coaching an All Blacks team from Zoom at home and still be married at the end of the week, I’m pretty satisfied.”

Foster also praised Scott Barrett, the lock-cum-flanker, who had a much more successful game at blindside this evening than he did at the 2019 World Cup, when he played in that role against England in the semi-finals. They called him ashore after 40 minutes then but saw him complete 20 tackles today.

“He’s a good footballer, and we thought one of the form forwards of Super Rugby,” said Foster. “I know most of that form was at lock, and a little bit at 6. It was a role that suited us today. He carries well, he defended well, and contributed to a pretty good set piece.

“He should be pretty proud of it. There was a bit of circumstance around the selection, and it certainly sped up an idea we’ve had in that space. Hopefully there’s another game now for everyone to talk about rather that the other one they talk about when he played 6.”

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Garry Doyle  / reports from Auckland

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