Ian Foster’s position as All Blacks head coach is still up in the air, after New Zealand Rugby (NZR) refused to endorse him on Sunday despite the team’s recent victory over the Springboks in Johannesburg.
NZR chief executive Mark Robinson revealed that an announcement will be made on Foster’s future following consultation with All Blacks management when they arrive back in New Zealand.
An announcement on the head coaching position is set to be made by the NZR board in the middle or end of next week.
“We’ll take stock of the situation and the information coming out of the camp, and make a decision,” Robinson told journalists.
“The most we can really say is we are focused on getting everyone home, and we’ll have a number of conversations in the coming days.
“We just need to work through this little period to understand where the next steps are with this management team.”
Robinson was full of praise for the All Blacks after their 35-23 win over the Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday. The victory comes after the team suffered a 26-10 defeat to their arch rivals in Mbombela the previous week.
That loss was the All Blacks’ fifth in six Tests and followed three defeats to Ireland and one to France. The three-time world champions eventually dropped to fifth spot in the world rankings after that reversal in Mbombela.
Such poor form led to calls for the NZR to fire Foster, who has battled to receive public support after delivering a mixed bag of results after being promoted from assistant to take over the coaching reins from his predecessor, Steve Hansen, who had a very successful reign between 20212 and 2019.
Before the All Blacks headed on their tour to South Africa, Robinson refused to endorse Foster beyond the two Tests in that country.
On Sunday, Robinson would not say if a loss in Johannesburg would have ended Foster’s coaching tenure and he would not comment when asked whether he was ready to take a recommendation to the NZR board.
Robinson said it is not just Foster’s role that will be analysed as NZR officials will assess “everything across the environment”.
If Foster’s services are not needed any more, his replacement will have just over a week to prepare for their next Test – in the Rugby Championship against Argentina in Christchurch on August 27.
Former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and Crusaders boss Scott Robertson are the favourites to replace Foster if NZR decides to part ways with him.
Shortly after Saturday’s win Foster said he had “no idea” if he would hold onto his job.
He mentioned the stress he had felt over the last month and slammed what he described as personal attacks on him in the media.
“It comes with the job, but it has been a pretty vicious onslaught, particularly from the New Zealand media,” Foster told reporters.
“Calling them ‘popgun selections’ I feel is quite insulting to players who are giving their all for the country. But these times are the best test of character.
“I’m intensely proud of the performance. I could not be more proud. To do that at altitude with the game swinging around — there were times we could have won and times we could have lost.”