The full Ian Foster presser: Why there's a meltdown in Aotearoa
All Black coach Ian Foster and captain Sam Cane caused a stir in New Zealand when they focussed mostly on the ‘positives’ from their disheartening 10-26 loss to South Africa in Nelspruit at the weekend.
Foster – who is under enormous pressure to keep his job – appeared to drive a narrative of an improving All Black side, despite arguably one of their worst performances in recent memory.
The men in black looked bereft of ideas and were physically outgunned by the Springboks’ pack.
The loss to the Springboks piled more pressure on the besieged coach, Foster.
The latest blow for New Zealand – their fifth loss in six Tests – followed a historic home series loss to Ireland last month and was their biggest defeat to the Springboks for nearly 100 years.
The tone of the coach-and-captain post-match briefing had the media and fans questioning if the 52-year-old was talking about the same match they saw.
After congratulating the Springboks, Foster insisted there were some positives in the defeat.
“For us, I actually thought it was a step up in performance from the last series,” Foster said about the July Tests against Ireland.
“The line-out worked well, the maul defence was good and our overall defence was pretty solid,” he added.
“We perhaps just missed a little bit of timing in terms of our attack. We will have to go and look at that.”
The Springboks were in control throughout and had a big territorial advantage to work with, although they finished with 14 men after Arendse was issued a red card in the 75th minute – while he was lying flat out receiving medical attention – for a highly dangerous charge in the air on Beauden Barrett.
* (Article continues below the video – watch the full Ian Foster presser)
Foster said a string of penalties conceded by the All Blacks in the first 20 minutes had hurt his team.
“I felt we were not getting the rub of the green in the first 20 minutes, so that put us behind a little.”
He said the third quarter of the match, after the All Blacks were fortunate to trail only 3-10 at half-time, was critical.
“We had to get back into the game, but all the Springboks did was carry hard and clean hard and earn a couple of penalties.
“Good on them, that is their game. It is a pressure game.”
Foster acknowledged that the intensity of the match played in front of a passionate sell-out home crowd of 42,367 had affected some of the new players in the touring squad.
“Some of our guys who are here for the first time – that is what you have to go through and experience.”
The margin of victory for the Springboks was their biggest over the All Blacks since 1928 and up there with New Zealand’s heaviest defeats.
The All Blacks must play a second Test against South Africa next week at Ellis Park in Johannesburg – the Boks’ favourite ground – and Foster’s job is hanging by a thread, as is the future of flank Sam Cane as the leader of the team.
The game’s most successful team was already in the midst of its worst run in 24 years after last month’s shock against Ireland and is dangerously close to its worst set of results ever.
Another loss against the world champions this coming Saturday would see Foster fired, New Zealand media has reported, throwing the All Blacks into some turmoil just over a year out from the World Cup in France.
Foster said that although there was not much time before a second-round match against the Springboks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg next Saturday, he was confident of an improved performance.
“As the game unfolded, a few opportunities opened up. There were some handling errors but we made a few good strides. But we have to prove it next week.”
Sources: AFP & AAP