‘We’ve put a marker down’ – Ian Foster

Date published: October 18 2020

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster couldn’t hide his delight after his team claimed a deserved 27-7 triumph over the Wallabies in Auckland on Sunday and said he believes they put down a marker.

After last weekend’s 16-16 Bledisloe Cup draw in Wellington, there was pressure on the All Blacks but they bounced back in style with an impressive all-round display and outscored Australia four tries to one.

Not relieved

Foster said although he was happy with how his charges responded, he was not relieved as the performance, which they delivered, is what is expected of the team.

“Relief is not something I feel at all,” he told reporters after the Test. “This is what test matches are about. If we don’t perform to the levels we want to, we know a lot of pressure comes on this team.

“In some ways they’re great weeks. There’s nowhere to hide. There’s no way anyone can get complacent. And if we thought we were in the house last week, we got a reminder we weren’t.

“This week we got a reminder it wasn’t good enough – from ourselves and everyone around us.

“It’s a pleasing feeling. We’ve put a marker down, that’s the level we need to start at and we’ve just got to climb because it’s a tough series. This is a better Wallabies team than I’ve seen for a while. They want to stay in the fight, so we had to fight for 80 minutes.”

There were several outstanding individual performances with rookie wing Caleb Clarke and returning full-back Beauden Barrett catching the eye with excellent attacking displays.

The coach tried to downplay Clarke’s showing but said: “He just wants the ball and wants to run hard, and it’s quite a good thing for us to give him the ball and let him run hard.”

Overall balance

Foster said having the experienced Barrett back in the team boosted them and helped restore their overall balance.

“I thought he showed his class,” he added. “He’s a great decision-maker and great influence on this team. He played the role we gave him really clearly, and brought a lot of confidence to the players.

“I think there’s more to come from him too. But it’s good to see him back in that first receiver role, back in the backfield, and now we’ve got some good choices.”

New Zealand will now head to Sydney where they face Australia on October 31 but Foster said although they have shown improvement, they know nothing has been achieved yet.

“We’ve really just started,” he said. “We’ve had two Tests, and probably one performance we’re satisfied with, and we haven’t won the cup yet.”