Following a shock 29-20 loss to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday, New Zealand will be determined to get back to winning ways against France in Paris on Saturday.
That was the word from head coach Ian Foster, who believes his All Black side can pick themselves “up off the mat” against Les Bleus.
Foster underlined that whilst the men in black should acknowledge the pain of their third loss to Ireland, the players need to shift attention and refocus on the tricky prospect of a young, emerging French side.
Anton Lienert-Brown and Beauden Barrett are unavailable due to shoulder and concussion injuries, respectively, which will force backline changes from Foster. As part of the reshuffle, Foster will have Aaron Smith at his disposal once again, after the experienced scrum-half returned to the All Blacks’ squad following the birth of his child.
“Us getting up off the mat I don’t think will be hard,” Foster told Stuff on Sunday. “It hurt last night. We know we got outplayed. There is no grey area about that. We’ve got a group that’s been together a long time, they’re working hard for each other and last night wasn’t at the level we wanted.
“We’ve got to build excitement into this week. We’re playing at Stade de France, against an exciting young French team that’s growing, and it’s a great game for us to respond. I don’t think we’ll be short of motivation.
“A week is always a long time in rugby. We were well beaten by a very good Irish team, we’ve got to take stock of that now and come out and finish this tour the way we want to.
“It’s certainly got an edge about it when you come off a loss. The key is not to stay in that space for too long. Our role has to be to dissect it, get what we need out of it, and get back to work. It’s very process focused but tainted with a bad taste in your mouth.”
In the final stages of the longest All Black tour in the professional era, Foster revealed that his players have the longevity to perform well even at the end of such a gruelling tour.
“We’ve been primed for these last two games and knew they were going to be big,” he said. “The good thing is whilst we’re hurting, we’ve got a chance to get a bit of excitement into this week. We’re going to need that.
“You’ve got to get a lot of gain-line in rugby nowadays, and we didn’t get enough last week. It’s not just an attitudinal, but a tactical and skill-based thing as well. The opportunities against France will be different to Ireland.
“The result always matters. We’ll be picking the group we think is strongest to go out and play France, because one way to build confidence is to keep growing your performance, as well as depth of player. We have to make some moves from last week and that’s what this week has got to be about.”