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Foster SURVIVES as NZR hails ‘magnificent’ win over Springboks and declares it’s ‘a new dawn’

Ian Foster will continue as All Blacks head coach through to the end of the 2023 World Cup.

The NZ Rugby board praised the team’s “magnificent” win over South Africa last weekend, which seems to have been a key factor in their decision to stick with the incumbent despite suggestions they should look to bring in Scott Robertson from the Crusaders.

Foster’s position was under threat after losing three of the first four Tests of the year after defeats in the final two games of 2021.

Despite public sentiment running heaviliy against him, his players were vocal in their support over the past few weeks.

“It’s a privilege to be in this job, it’s never something you take for granted,” Foster told a news conference.

“No doubt it’s been a hard time … but you’ve got to be in the here and now … I’m a key catalyst for that and I’m delighted to be here.”

On the support of players, Foster said: “While it’s support for me and I appreciate that, it’s also massive support for what we’re trying to achieve.”

NZR CEO Mark Robinson has come under attack for his handling of the speculation, and the decision not to back Foster last Sunday.

“Lots of people have lots of views at the moment … It’s difficult isn’t it, if you don’t say anything you’re criticised for going missing in action,” said Robinson. “If you turn up … you’re criticised for not saying enough.”

Robinson added: “We feel this is a new dawn for this team.”

NZ Rugby chairman Stewart Mitchell said it was a unanimous decision by the board to allow Foster to continue through to the end of the 2023 World Cup.

Robinson said he didn’t speak to any senior players after returning to New Zealand. Mitchell also said he spoke to former All Blacks captain David Kirk. The latter is also the president of the Players’ Association.

Foster thanked the support he received from former All Blacks.

“I tell you who we’ve got most support from the last month, it’s from ex All Blacks from the 2007-2009 group of players, who have actually been through periods with the All Blacks where things haven’t gone that well,” he said.

“And it’s been fantastic the support we’ve had from the older All Blacks who know what it’s like to go through a bit of a trough and and when you’re making changes and rebuilding a little bit…I think that’s really empowered our current group who haven’t been used to the sort of adversity that we’ve had. It’s felt foreign. And so, we’ve all wanted to roll our sleeves up and fix it.”

A clearly relieved Foster said he couldn’t wait to get back to work on Thursday.

Asked what he would tell his players, he said: “Hi guys, I’m back. Let’s get into it.” 

Foster said he was “immensely proud” of how the players had dealt with the speculation in the wake of their poor performances.

“There’s no doubt there was a void there for the team but sometimes you go through a void,” he said. “There was a bit of uncertainty, but our job is to play through that.”

Robinson was asked about what the decision meant for Robertson, who recently told media he wanted to coach at at least two World Cups, preferably with two different teams.

Calling him a “key and valued employee”, Robinson added: “We have a huge regard for Razor. We hope he has a future in the game here. Today’s not really about Razor, today’s about Ian and his team.”

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