All Blacks: Ian Foster says coaching saga has impacted his backroom staff

David Skippers
rugby world cup ian foster all blacks

Ian Foster has admitted that the ongoing saga about who would take over the All Blacks’ coaching reins from him has created an “interesting vibe” amongst his backroom staff.

Earlier this month, Foster revealed that he would step down from his position after the upcoming Rugby World Cup in France.

He also said that he disagrees with New Zealand Rugby’s decision to appoint the new head coach before the global showpiece instead of after the tournament – as has been the norm previously.

Fascinating discussion at management meeting

Foster revealed that he held a two-day management meeting two weeks ago and that there was a fascinating discussion amongst the All Blacks‘ backroom staff.

“We were able to clear the air a little bit and talk about what’s happening and the uncertainty,” he told The Breakdown. “Because it has created an interesting vibe in the group.

“We’re a little bit unsure yet what the processes are for communicating with that group, but we’re tight; we’re really connected.”

NZR’s process of appointing the new head coach will gain intensity this week. It’s understood that the governing body will hold interviews with the candidates – Scott Robertson and Jamie Joseph – and the appointment panel are set to make a decision by the end of next week.

Former All Blacks full-back Mils Muliaina asked Foster what he would be looking for in a candidate if he was part of the panel, but the coach made it clear he would not be talking about the process he disagreed with.

“The one thing we need to share with people is that we’re 100 per cent focused on this World Cup, and that’s all we want to do.

“But there will be some things happening; you’ve already started to see Joe Schmidt announce he wouldn’t be applying, and Gilbert Enoka (mental skills coach) has come out and made a clear decision (to leave after the World Cup). Some people really wanted certainty early and didn’t want to be involved in this process, and there might be a few more.”

High praise for Ireland and France

Foster was speaking from Paris as he spent the past two weeks in Europe, along with assistant coaches Schmidt and Jason Ryan, watching matches involving their Six Nations rivals.

They also spent time at New Zealand’s World Cup base in Lyon and will attend World Rugby referee meetings over the next few days.

Foster hailed the performances of Six Nations champions Ireland and runners-up France and said he expects this year’s World Cup to be tough.

“Both playing really well. Six Nations is a great tournament. A lot of atmosphere around it,” he said. “If you look at France particularly, they started out slow, having a loss to Ireland, and the first three games probably didn’t hit their straps, but certainly at Twickenham and against Wales they are a team on the up.

“Looks to me like they only have one goal, and that’s to play well later in the year. Very passionate country behind them. Amazing how much France is excited about this World Cup coming up. It’s going to be huge.

“Ireland just continue doing what they’re doing. They’re playing really efficient rugby, they’re big in the big moments of the game and we saw that again against a pretty rejuvenated England team who showed a lot of spirit. Ireland came back really clinical in that last quarter.”

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