All Blacks: Ian Foster looking for his side to ‘learn new habits’

Dylan Coetzee

All Blacks coach Ian Foster believes that other countries have managed to find a way to match the tempo of his side.

This realisation comes off the back of a poor tour of the northern hemisphere at the end of last year that saw New Zealand lose to both France and Ireland.

‘Taken for granted’

Foster fears that his side have taken things for “granted” and believes his team needs to evolve and be adaptive to find success.

“It’s just a bit of an upper cut for us. Some of the things we’ve taken for granted, ‘oh that’s the All Blacks, that’s natural’,” Foster said on the All Blacks podcast.

“We’re instinctively a wider passing team. We like the big passes and creating space.

“We’ve got to learn some new habits. We’re going to work hard on the length of our pass and how we kick versus some of these teams.”

International coaches plan and strategise in four-year blocks aimed at the Rugby World Cup. Foster’s preparation has been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, forcing him to switch up his approach.

“Often, the third year is about building some depth, and then the fourth year is about go and do it,” he said.

“We’ve had to flip that over. The first year we only had six Tests. Last year we had 15, but we were away from home. We had 40 players because of Covid quarantine and all that stuff.

“So we went to a depth strategy last year.

“This year we are going to narrow the squad down a little bit.”

Blues star Rieko Ioane has shown tremendous growth in the 13 jersey this season, and Foster believes the speedster has raised his game to a different tier.

“He’s learnt some things about playing at 13, and I thought he finished the year strongly for us. He’s really taken his game to a different level with what we’ve seen so far in Super Rugby, so I’m excited by that,” he said.

Meanwhile, the code-hopping Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has shown good development since changing to the 15-man game but still needs to shape his game further, with the play-offs an excellent challenge for the centre.

“I know he’s an outstanding guy, he’s doing a great job in the Blues. We’ve had some connections with him, and I know he’s in a great spot. We’ve just got to look at his progress and, particularly, the next four or five weeks will be critical in that,” Foster added.

Foster is set to name a 36-man squad on June 13 as the All Blacks prepare for their Test-series with Ireland.

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