All Blacks: Ardie Savea backs head coach Ian Foster after replacement error

Colin Newboult

All Blacks number eight Ardie Savea is fully behind Ian Foster after the head coach was criticised for a tactical blunder at the weekend.

Ofa Tuungafasi had already been sin-binned when fellow tighthead Angus Ta’avao was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Garry Ringrose.

It meant that at the next scrum, although it was uncontested, the hosts needed to replace one of their players with another front-rower.

New Zealand had already brought off Dalton Papalii and then decided to remove Savea when Ta’avao was red carded.

However, once Tuungafasi’s sin-bin period had finished, the officials deemed that Papalii and not Savea could return.


“Like everyone else I wasn’t sure what was going on. I was a bit frustrated. To be honest I wasn’t even watching the game. Selfishly on my behalf,” the back-row told reporters.

“We just couldn’t hold onto the ball. Basic errors … they came with a game plan and put us under immense pressure and we couldn’t handle it down in Dunners.

“That’s pretty tough to swallow. We want to go out there and represent the black jersey and to put something out like that, it hurts.

“It does hurt, letting the first Irish team win here, and being part of that.”

The red card certainly didn’t help New Zealand’s chances but it was still another disappointing performance from Foster’s men.

They have lost three of their past four matches and are now in fourth position in the world rankings – their lowest-ever placing.

Criticism has therefore increased on the head coach, as well as the players, but Savea has urged them to stick together.

“I try to stay away from that sort of stuff but I’d be lying if (I said I don’t take notice of it). I’ll be scrolling through the ‘Gram (Instagram) and you see stuff, but that’s just the reality of our job and what we do in the jersey,” he said.

“It does hurt because we’re a family here but with everything that happened, we’ve got each others’ backs. People perceive what they see but they don’t know what goes on inside.

“I back my coach, I back my skip and back my players 100%. Side by side.”

Series still alive

Ireland’s victory over New Zealand on Saturday levelled the series at 1-1, setting up a winner-takes-all encounter this weekend.

“We’re very motivated. After the weekend we were quite disappointed. It hurt. A lot,” Savea added.

“This morning we’ve taken it in, in terms of looking at the game and hopefully we can nullify a few things and get ready for this week because it’s going to be massive.”

READ MORE: Ian Foster: All Blacks lacked on attack and failed to adapt during the second Test