October 7, 2022
NZR backs All Blacks coach Ian Foster to lead team through to Rugby World Cup- BPN TODAY

NZR backs All Blacks coach Ian Foster to lead team through to Rugby World Cup

Former Ireland coach now All Blacks selector and analyst Joe Schmidt will be given an expanded role with the team.

The All Blacks produced one of the best performances in recent times to upset the Springboks at Ellis Park last Sunday.

However, Foster’s job had come under scrutiny following a run of five defeats from their last seven games, with NZR boss Mark Robinson refusing to back Foster after the All Blacks victory in Johannesburg.

‘We feel it is a new dawn for this team’ – Robinson

NZ Board chair Stewart Mitchell said the All Blacks win on Saturday was “magnificent”.

Performance was an ongoing conversation and it was agreed with Foster at the beginning of the year to do a thorough debrief at this time, Mitchell said.

“Doing this against the backdrop of the results and the media scrutiny, overlaying with people’s employment being managed in real time, however, has been hugely challenging.”

Foster provided management with his own recommendations about the coaching staff, he said, and the board had unanimously agreed Foster and this coaching group were the right people to bring the All Blacks through to the World Cup.

The decision had also been privately and publicly validated with the players, he said.

Schmidt’s new expanded role comes as a result of his positive impact over the past two weeks, he said.

Jason Ryan also had a similarly positive impact in South Africa in his two weeks in the role, Mitchell said.

“We’re very excited about the potential of this incredible capable and experienced coaching trio going forward.”

The fever pitch the conversation had reached at times put unfair pressure on both Foster and Robinson, he said.

“Have we got everything right? Possibly not, but it’s not through a lack of care … we will take any learnings with us, we know we need to hold ourselves to the same standards as we do our teams in black.”

Robinson said there were a few things that could have been done better in recent weeks, but “I don’t think anyone can doubt the power of this organisation and team when we witness a result like we did in Johannesburg over the weekend”.

“To see them fight the way they did is just something we’re magnificently proud of.”

Despite speculation in the media and elsewhere, the debrief today had been set down for some time, he said.

“I guess the reality of the other situation we’re facing is we’re two weeks into this setup of new coaches.”

Schmidt was a world-class coach and the team believed he would bring enormous value, Robinson said.

“At no stage do we ever lose care for our people despite some of the commentary going on, we never lost sight of the care for the game we have and responsibility we have to making sure the All Blacks are the best possible team they can be and ultimately where we want them to be is the best team in the world.”

He said the developments and changes seen in the on-the-field performance was something the organisation was really excited about.

“We can’t wait to get going. We feel it is a new dawn for this team even though there’s obviously a lot of continuity in it but there’s some freshness, and variety and change coming into it that will make a significant difference going forward.”

Robinson said the team dealt with speculation all the time, but the reality was they needed to balance transparency against the need to not talk about certain things

Foster said he was delighted to have the support of the board.

“I expect to be grilled in that space and so over the last month we’ve had a lot of conversations about how we can grow our organisations and get the performance that we want on the park.

“We have made some changes and we’re continuing to keep evaluating in our group … and really delighted with where we’ve got to from today onwards.”

He said he had his eyes on Schmidt for some time, and it had now been decided to move him “out of the computer room and actually put him on the park a bit more”.

Bringing Schmidt into the team in some form was always part of the plan, what was uncertain was exactly what capacity he’d be in, he said.

“He’s there for the right reasons, he complements the group we’ve got … I think this is gonna make the whole thing enable us to coach at a deeper level so I’m really delighted.”

The team is trying to make changes on the park as well, he said, to have a strong nucleus to go through to the World Cup.

Foster said it was a privilege to be in the job and it was never something he took for granted.

“We also know you’ve got to be in the here and now and our goal is to work on performance and improvement.”

He said he did not think he was hung out to dry, but some of the issues were self-inflicted because the team he was coaching didn’t get some of the wins they were hoping to.

“We live in the real world and I’m under pressure to perform, so, I don’t mind that.”

The All Blacks next test is against Argentina in Christchurch next Saturday.

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