New Zealand Rugby chief Mark Robinson has failed to back coach Ian Foster for the long haul at a media conference on Sunday, but suggested a decision on his future would be made within a week.
Robinson told media that a decision on Foster needed to be made in consultation with the New Zealand Rugby board and it was premature to discuss his future now. He also suggested it would be wrong to make a call with the players and team management overseas.
His press conference is only likely to further fuel speculation that Foster, who helmed the team to a stirring win at Ellis Park on Sunday, is a dead man walking.
“There’s a huge amount of passion and speculation, we appreciate that, we need time to work that through,” Robinson said.
“We’ve been having conversations right through this time with Foz. We believe we know where we stand, just have to work that through with him.”
Robinson said the priority was “too get everyone home” from South Africa.
“Then we take stock, meet with management as soon as we can, and debrief how the tour went.”
The All Blacks rebounded from a loss in the first of their two Tests in South Africa with a victory in Johannesburg. It was reported before the tour that Foster would have to win at least one game to be safe although it seems even that might not be enough.
“We’re proud of them, it was really a critical moment in the development of this team,” Robinson said of the performance.
“They’ve been through an awful lot. To win under such adversity, was really pleasing. Any aspect of that performance is considered going into this week’s discussions.”
After the victory Foster hit out at the NZ media.
“The stress has been good for me, I’ve lost one kg in the last two weeks and maybe over the next week or two I might lose a few more,” Foster said.
“It comes with the job. It has been pretty vicious. There has been a lot of onslaught, particularly from our New Zealand media. They’ve got high expectations of us and they’ve made that loud and clear.
“They’ve clearly come very strong at me as a person. Some of them have even called our selections popgun which I found quite insulting for players that give everything to play for their nation.
“That pressure has been strong. It doesn’t change the fact that through adversity is the best teacher for character and we’ve stayed tight.
“We’ve lost three in a row this year, and it hurt, but I felt last week was our best performance of the year. We saw signs of our combativeness – we missed a beat at the breakdown but we’ve grown through that. We’re breeding a few young boys and a few new combinations and that takes time.
“Some people don’t have patience and I understand that; I get the frustrations, but inside the camp that doesn’t mean a lot to us. What’s important is how we pull together and work hard and keep growing.”
Robinson said he was “really pleased for Ian” but added the review is ” not about one individual, we’re looking right across the performance environment.”
Rugby – The Roar