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All Blacks great suggests NZR have done Foster dirty with statement

By Stefan Frost
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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All Blacks legend Mils Muliaina has defended under-fire head coach Ian Foster, after the NZR refused to make it clear how long the head coach will stay in office.

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Prior to last night, New Zealand were on a three-game losing streak and had lost a total of five of their last six test matches, including a maiden test series defeat to Ireland on home soil. That run of form unearthed further questions on Foster’s suitability to lead the All Blacks.

But, even after an impressive 35-23 win over South Africa at Ellis Park yesterday, his job still looks to be in jeopardy.

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Much of this uncertainty has to do with a statement released by New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson yesterday post-match, which announced that no decision had been made on Foster’s future.

Muliaina took issue with the move made by New Zealand Rugby and believes it undermines the spectacular display Sam Cane and his side put together against the Springboks.

“It’s the pressure of uncertainty once again. Really, they should have been coming out and celebrating what was a tremendous performance from the All Blacks after what’s been a hard couple of weeks,” Muliaina said when interviewed on Newshub this morning.

“There’s still a bit of unknown about what’s going on and no doubt it’s watered-down what Ian Foster and his men produced last night.”

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While the board remain at loggerheads over Foster’s stint in charge, his players have been unwavering in their support. After the game Ardie Savea showed as much when he said: “We back him 100 per cent.”

Muliaina thinks this team cohesion, and the performance exhibited last night, will do much to lift the mood of Foster and his coaching core.

“I think he’ll be upbeat, there’s no doubt about that. The performance they put out against the Springboks at Ellis Park was tremendous and they thoroughly deserved the win, but again the unknown is there. He was asked again last night whether he thought, or knew, whether he was going to be the coach.

“It seems like he’s walking across egg shells. He had a review after the end of year tour, another review after the Irish tests and here we are again two weeks later with another review.

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“I guess that’s why he’s found some resolve around his players. He’s definitely got the backing there. But it would be nice if the NZR came out and were really strong about their position given what we saw last night.

When asked whether he thinks Foster is the right man for the job, Muliaina repeated his opposition to the carousel of performance and coaching reviews which NZR have been undertaking.

“The fact that they only gave him two games before they reviewed him, how much certainty can you give this coaching staff? They’ve taken it almost as a couple of games at a time. I’ve never heard of so many reviews in my life.

“Given the performance they had last night it’s clear that Ian Foster is making leeway, so I’d like to see him stay until the end of the championship.”

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