Wing selections tricky – Foster

Date published: November 12 2013

All Blacks backs coach Ian Foster admits selecting the wings to face England at Twickenham on Saturday will be a tough task.

All Blacks backs coach Ian Foster admits selecting the wings to face England at Twickenham on Saturday will be a tough task.

Youngster Charles Piutau has impressed in his recent outings, but faces competition from Julian Savea and Cory Jane – the latter having recently recovered from a nine-month injury spell.

With 21-year-old Piutau a stand-out in Paris as the Kiwis overcame France 26-19, the Aucklander is favourite to win a start as New Zealand seek to avenge their defeat in this fixture a year ago.

Foster, though, knows that choosing between Savea and Jane will be a thankless task – but for good reason.

“We've got some good decisions to make – they're hard ones, but they're good ones,” Foster told Rugby Heaven.

“We'll look at Cory and Julian. We've got to assess Julian fitness wise as he's had a week off his feet, and Cory we've got to assess a bit fitness wise too, as he's had nine months away from the game, and had two bits of ITM Cup and has now come in and played 70 minutes of a test match.

“So we'll do a bit of evaluation over the next 24 hours.”

The assistant coach also paid tribute to Ben Smith, the free-scoring winger who has switched to outside centre for the All Blacks, plugging the gap while namesake Conrad undertakes a sabbatical from rugby.

And contrary to claims that Smith had not stood out in the Paris win, Foster was keen to point out the coaching staff were pleased with the Highlander's contribution.

“He had his best game at centre, and continues to make real good strides about when to do the simple things,” added Foster.

“I thought he had a very efficient game. At centre it's a matter of making small adjustments to the attack, and he's doing that. He put a good kick through for Charles' try, and read that situation well.”

Foster also played down the amped up emotion surrounding Dan Carter – who is set to win his 100th cap at Twickenham – and Sam Whitelock, who makes his 50th appearance.

“There's enough motivating factors around this game,” acknowledged Foster.

“There generally is around any Test match, and the personal stuff, it's something we're aware of, but it's not really as issue for us this week.

“Our drive has got to be about our performance and how we play and when the final whistle goes you sit down and celebrate anything else that happens.

“It's not a special motivator, as we're pretty motivated to perform well anyway.”