New Zealand Rugby boss Mark Robinson has finally spoken out after two weeks of silence but did not confirm whether Ian Foster would still be in charge after the games with South Africa.
A trip to face the Springboks is probably not what Foster ordered after his team suffered a series reversal to Ireland in the recent mid-year internationals.
They take on the world champions over successive weekends at the start of the Rugby Championship and defeats in Mbombela and Johannesburg would pile further pressure on the struggling All Blacks head coach.
Robinson has received plenty of criticism recently, especially for his lack of public appearances since the loss to the Irish.
He released a statement in the immediate aftermath of that series, describing it as “not acceptable”, but has not been seen since.
Coy over Foster’s future
That was until Robinson appeared on Newstalk ZB to speak about the key topics, but he was decidedly cautious after being asked whether Foster was the right person to take New Zealand into the 2023 World Cup.
“He’s certainly the person to lead the team to South Africa, and we’re making sure they’ve got everything possible in the way of resourcing and support to make sure that’s successful,” he said.
The chief executive did seek to clarify one thing following criticism surrounding New Zealand Rugby’s processes.
“One thing that seems to be coming through in some media is constant referral to reviews… that’s simply not the case,” he said. “But something that is very regular in all our environments is there are constant conversations about how we improve, and that’s a big part of the All Blacks as well.”
Ex-All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen weighed into the debate recently, absolutely slamming the governing body and stating the relationship between players and board was the “worst it’s ever been.”
”Steve’s a good friend, and he’s passionate about the game in New Zealand. I’ve reached out to him, and we’ll have a catchup at some stage… He’s said things I wouldn’t agree with, but we’ll have that conversation,” Robinson said.
“I know he’s incredibly protective of Ian and he’s looking out for his mate, and I think we all understand that too. Certainly we’ll have a chat when the time is right.
“Regarding the players, we’re working hard and well in that space around things in general, but also with regard to a new partner coming on with Silver Lake.”
Silver Lake controversy
A lot of the fallout with the players stems from the NZ$200 million deal with private equity firm Silver Lake.
“There’s no question it went through some challenging times working through (Silver Lake). We’re well through that. … I know we’ve been through a rocky recent history, but we’re focused on making sure we can be as strong as possible together,” Robinson said.
There has also been plenty of support for Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson, who many believe should have been appointed ahead of Ian Foster after the 2019 World Cup.
Following Foster’s struggles, those calls have only grown louder.
“I understand the sentiment of our fans. That’s been coming through loud and clear. We know Razor has a huge amount to offer the game in New Zealand… but to comment any further wouldn’t be appropriate,” NZR’s chief executive added.