Ian Foster: All Blacks coach bemoans costly first half display against Ireland

David Skippers

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster bemoaned his side’s poor start to their game after they suffered a shock 23-12 defeat to Ireland in Saturday’s July international in Dunedin.

Foster described his team’s display during the opening quarter as “substandard” and was critical of their “unacceptable” skill-level. He also called for improvement in intensity from his players for next weekend’s series decider in Wellington.

Costly errors

Despite suffering their first-ever loss to Ireland in New Zealand and losing Angus Ta’avao to a red card late in the first half, as well as seeing Ofa Tuungafasi and Leicester Fainga’anuku spending time in the sin bin prior to that, Foster took the result in his stride and said his side made too many mistakes.

“We’ve had a couple of starts are substandard, which we’re going to have to improve on,” he told reporters after the game.

“I love the attitude of the team through that rather chaotic quarter where things were happening and with the cards.

“That try at the start of the second half hurt us. It’s hard trying to play catch up with 14 men against a really well organised defensive team.

“But you know there was some probably an unacceptable amount of errors in terms of the handling stuff.”

Foster praised Ireland for the way they “pressured our skillsets”, but said some All Blacks failed to deal with that situation.

“That’s what Test matches are about and we were a bit off in terms of dealing with that,” he said.

“I think it’s a bit of an eye-opener, particularly for a few newer players to feel that sort of tension and pressure and trying to force things when you’re one man down.”

Early setback

Ta’avao received his marching orders after a dangerous challenge on Garry Ringrose on the half-hour mark, with the All Blacks front-row failing to lower his body position before making the tackle on Ringrose.

Referee Jaco Peyper initially ruled that the incident was accidental but changed his decision after reviewing television replays.

“It is what it is,” Foster said. “I think no one saw it as intentional but there was certainly head on head contact. Then the two yellow cards previously…I guess that the officials are reasonably clear on them…we’re not grizzling about the cards.”

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