Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

'Publicly I said I didn't care': Ian Foster reveals revenge motivation in Ireland quarter-final

By Ben Smith
New Zealand's head coach Ian Foster (C) shakes hands with Ireland's fly-half Jonathan Sexton (L) after the France 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, on the outskirts of Paris, on October 14, 2023. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)

Former All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has revealed that his preferred quarter-final opponent at last year’s Rugby World Cup was in fact Ireland.


With the Rugby World Cup draw putting the top four sides on the same side of the draw, it was known for a long time that the All Blacks would meet either South Africa, Ireland or Scotland in a high stakes quarter-final.

The 2022 series defeat to Ireland which put heavy scrutiny on the All Blacks and the head coach himself built up a well of emotion for the squad, which led to a motivation to pay Ireland back for the hurt.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

Foster admitted that “deep down” he wanted the Ireland match-up as the squad took a vengeful mindset towards the game.

“I wanted to play Ireland,” Foster said on All Blacks: In Their Own Words 2.

“I was always asked who I wanted to play [Ireland or South Africa], and publicly I said I didn’t care. But deep down, I wanted to play Ireland [in the quarter-final].

“I think the public were nervous, I think they were smart enough to know what the quarter-final was going to be like.”

In a pre-match All Blacks leadership meeting before the quarter-final, halfback Aaron Smith revealed to the group that he had been “waiting 18 months” to play this team on the big stage to pay them back.


“We’d planned all year on how we could stop Ireland the best we could,” Smith said.

“The Irish were very confident, you could tell, but they had every right to be.”

Ireland entered the game on a 17 game winning streak and held the number one world ranking at time.

Captain Sam Cane, who also came under immense scrutiny following the 2-1 series defeat, shared how he felt about Ireland.

“Although we don’t talk about these things as a team, we don’t talk about Ireland, in the back of your mind, you remember it,” Cane said.


“We remember the feeling of losing in Dunedin, in Wellington, you remember those feelings. We’ve let New Zealand down, we’ve let the jersey down.”




Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


SadersMan 12 days ago

Blah blah blah. The Foster/Cane era was rubbish. The fact that Argentina walloped us twice about sums it up. Even with the late recruitment of Jase Ryan & Joe Schmidt, Foster still managed to achieve the worst record for ABs coaches, who coached the ABs for at least 30 tests & at least 40 tests. Thank goodness it’s over.

Nickers 14 days ago

Although they were a super tough opponent, in choosing between them and France I think everyone would have preferred to play Ireland. They obviously had a point to prove against them, but they were also far more familiar with that team. NZ had played France once in the past 5 years, and many people in the team would never have played them or any of their players before, and certainly not the latest incarnation.

Easy_Duzz-it 14 days ago

Looking back it now I have to laugh 😂. Because how do you lose to Ian fosters All Blacks . Imagine being number 1 in the world and losing to Ian fosters All Blacks .

The Irish coach just had to rest the core players and get them as fresh as possible . If Ireland beat the All Blacks up front , they make it past the quarter finals for the first time in there history .

But for some reason the win streak was that important they went to the quarterfinals undefeated and lost to Ian fosters All Blacks 🤣 .

Jon 14 days ago

I still don’t know how they won the first game in that series. Can Irish fans tell, from time and replays, what happened in that QF?

No one answers those sorts of arsenine questions honestly.

johnz 14 days ago

Hopefully the next coach will realise the importance of preparing for more than just one team. While being motivated by something more sustainable than revenge would also be a plus.

MattJH 14 days ago

I don’t get why Foster would say he didn’t care when he actually did.
A few of the All Blacks publicly stated they wanted to play Ireland in the quarter final before the game.
Ireland had beaten them at home, were ranked No.1, and were on a 17 game winning streak.
Of course they preferred to play Ireland.

Rob 14 days ago

You’d swear they won the World Cup

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

Mzilikazi 29 minutes ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Very good article, Nic, and I find agreement with what you write virtually 100%. I think this two mach series has increasingly become one which will be very difficult for Ireland to win. After the first game of the last 6N, I would have been very full of confidence taking on the Boks in SA. France beaten by a big margin in France, it looked as if Ireland had emerged in fine form from the World Cup, despite the very narrow loss to the AB’s. But after that game, a slide began, ending with the defeat to England. Ireland were very fortunate to win this years 6N ! And as you so fully expose, this has not been a good season for Leinster, or indeed, in my view, for any Irish province. The Leinster loos to the Bulls, and then Munster letting a glorious chance slip to the Glasgow Warriors down at Thomond. Man, that one will really hurt. And both Connacht and Ulster have at times looked very poor this seaso, bith heavily beaten on occassion. The loss of both Gibson Park and Keenan are huge blows, especially Gibson Park. And there is really only one clear class 10 in the touring party, Jack Crowley, and he is still a very young player learning his trade. If he goes down, heaven help Ireland. And in my view, Ireland do not have a good scrummaging front row, SA do, and in great depth too. But despite all this doom and gloom, I always believe my team can win. Not that they will win, just can ! Ireland will still field what is the best and most talented team overall that I have seen in my lifetime. But the coaching group will really have to step up, no awful decisions like the one made against the AB’s in the QF….keeping the totally spent and poorly performing(on the day) Sexton on for the full 80mins, leaving Crowley on the sidelines. Ireland should never have lost that game !

48 Go to comments
Shaylen 3 hours ago
Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?

Ireland have all the tools required to hurt SA. They develop quick ball, hold onto the ball for long periods, stretch the game when its on, have powerful mobile forwards, a good kicking game and they can hold their own in the scrum. They also can force turnovers regularly and in general do well at the breakdown. When Munster, the Ospreys and Glasgow all won games in SA this year against the Bulls and Stormers they did just that and won. It is also the reason why Ireland won the game at the world cup last year. The problem for Ireland is that SA have all the tools required to hurt them as well and hurt them a great deal more than England did in the Six Nations. They are physical and powerful at the set piece, they rush up and counter the Irish attacking system and they can really attack the breakdown and slow your ball down. Their counterattacking threat is also a big weapon and they score many tries from turnover turning defence into offence in a second. Toulouse and the Bulls nailed Leinster in this way and Glasgow did the same thing to Munster. So the series will be really interesting because both sides are so good at countering each other. Interested to see what kind of surprises Tony Brown springs and how the SA game develops. Feel like SA have more potential to surprise Ireland but then a new coaching set up as well as the fact that Japanese and foreign based players tend to take about 5 to 6 weeks to get up to speed might work in Irelands favour. SA have shipped at least one game in 4 of the last 5 June/July test windows going back to 2018 for this exact reason.

48 Go to comments
Flankly 4 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

The comments were reported weirdly. De Allende did say it would be war, but he said it amidst comments like “Ireland play such good footy”, and “they are so good at the breakdown”. He said that the Boks lost heavily to Ireland a few years back and that they felt the Irish press was dismissive of the Boks. I don’t recall that, but I suppose it is true, and that SA players would want to turn around that sentiment. The RWC loss to Ireland would naturally pour fuel on the fire. In short, it is a natural thing for passionate players like him to feel very strongly about the goal of registering a convincing series win against Ireland. There is really nothing to see here. As an aside, the SA team shouldn’t be too self-righteous about this kind of a situation. Recall that in 2004, after SA won the Ireland series in SA, Jake White noted that no more than two Irish players were good enough for selection in his Bok side. "Considering the facts, I think only two of their players would be included in the Bok team - O'Driscoll (centre) and maybe one of the locks. How could we have lost against the Irish?" O’Driscoll disagreed and said that it was close, and Ireland were just tired. My Irish friends were pretty incensed by the comments, quite rightly. And I am sure it was part of the energy that drove them to some famous wins against the Boks. The Etzebeth thing was a little different. I think he was just not hearing what was being said. It is not that unusual for someone to say “We will see you in the final”. Of course it is a statement of confidence, which every team should have, but it is also a compliment. I think there was a cultural fly-by, in which a “see you soon” comment was taken to mean “we will beat you again”. But it was a good story, and a convenient clickbaity headline. I don’t think anyone is intentionally trying to rile up anything. But if you interview a Bok player and prod them about their passion wrt the Ireland tour, you are likely to hear some pretty heartfelt words. And so you should.

21 Go to comments
Turlough 5 hours ago
Are Ireland and Leinster the biggest chokers in world rugby?

Obviously there is a series coming up between SA and Ireland…… Ireland won the six nations (again) went unbeaten for almost 20 games til last Autumn beating all the top world teams twice. Held our nerve to beat NZ in a home NZ series. The RWC draw meant that we had to play a title contender in the Quarter that was a 50:50 and the schedule meant that we had to play a top 5 team 7 days before that quarter against a team who were lining us up all tournament and all year. Maybe Ireland should have focussed more on NZ at the expense of the preparation for the Scottish match? Who knows but thats a coaching issue, I saw no mental frailty during that match. As it happenned NZ were clearly better and got through. France have also been eliminated in the quarters last two world cups (including their home match). They have been solidly beaten by Ireland two years in a row. Where are the jibes there? If Ireland have an issue at the end of games it is game management. Against Toulouse, they aimlessly played on with a scrum advantage and then missed the drop. Leinster’s scrum was completely dominant so a scrum was likely worth a penaltyto win the game off the tee. No penalty, then set of the drop goal attemp then. That was missing, that’s end game management. NZ were getting there with this in 2011 but the Semi Victory over SA in 2015 was a victory of game management. Ireland will address it (hopefully very soon). I like the way the Irish team are staying so quiet. These jibes from SA players and pundits no doubt fueling that quiet energy. Underdog status suits Ireland perfectly. Ireland may not win, but expect a major performance in Loftus.

17 Go to comments
FEATURE Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’? Is Ireland versus South Africa a battle for the title of ‘world champions’?