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'No panic' as 'dented' All Blacks prepare to face Springboks

Some pundits in New Zealand have called for head coach Ian Foster to be sacked following the 2-1 home series loss to Ireland.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster.
All Blacks head coach Ian Foster.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

ALL BLACKS HEAD coach Ian Foster insisted Tuesday there is no panic in their ranks before facing South Africa away, even with New Zealand’s pride dented by their home series defeat to Ireland.

“We didn’t get what we wanted out of that series, so to come together and put in the work again is the best thing for this group,” Foster told reporters after the All Blacks trained in Wellington.

There has been a huge outcry in New Zealand, with some pundits calling for Foster to be sacked, following this month’s 2-1 home series loss to Ireland.

“We’re not panicking — I’m not sure about the rest of the people,” Foster tersely replied when asked if the key to facing South Africa is not to panic.

“With all the emotions around when you lose a series, it’s easy for people to scratch at you and poke holes. I get all that.”

Back-to-back home defeats mean New Zealand has just one win from their last five games.

Foster badly needs a victory to restore faith, starting with away Tests on 7 and 14 August against world champions South Africa in the Rugby Championship.

Although Foster and All Blacks captain Sam Cane kept their jobs, New Zealand Rugby reacted to the Irish defeats by sacking forwards coach John Plumtree and attack coach Brad Mooar.

Foster admitted it was “horrible” sacking the pair.

“They are good men, but my role is to do what is best for the team,” he added.

It’s not a judgement on them, we just needed to make a change. We’re going into the Rugby Championship to try to win, it’s a big challenge, but what a great opportunity for us.”

Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, now a selector for New Zealand, has taken on a key analysis role and will work alongside Foster.

Jason Ryan has been brought in as the new All Blacks forwards coach after winning six Super Rugby titles with the Crusaders.

After seeing New Zealand out-muscled by the Irish pack, Ryan said his charges have a point to prove.

“There is no hiding from it, the All Black pack has been dented,” he said.

“In the forwards’ meeting, we didn’t hide anything and have been really honest, we have to be. We are disappointed, we will move on and get better quickly — because we have to.”

All Blacks back Richie Mo’unga said the squad is relishing the chance to “right a few wrongs” in South Africa, “because we know we are better. We need to make a statement about who we are as All Blacks”.

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Meanwhile, All Blacks prop Ofa Tu’ungafasi has withdrawn from the matches in South Africa because of a neck injury.

Tu’ungafasi, 30, picked up the knock during the third Test loss to Ireland in Wellington.

It is hoped Tu’ungafasi will recover in time to join the squad for their home Tests against Argentina on 27 August in Christchurch and a week later in Hamilton.

Tu’ungafasi has been replaced in the All Blacks squad by 22-year-old uncapped Crusaders prop Fletcher Newell. 

– © AFP 2022

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