Ian Foster wants 'hesitant' All Blacks to react a lot quicker on the field
The All Blacks have been in camp on the Sunshine Coast reflecting on their completed Rugby Championship campaign where they finished first with five wins from six outings ahead of their final stretch of the season.
Head coach Ian Foster rated the campaign as ‘pretty successful’, despite finishing with a loss to South Africa, the last two games were a taste of what the side can expect when they reach the Northern Hemisphere.
“Overall, I think that it’s been a pretty successful Rugby Championship and we’re delighted with the wins and winning the title,” Foster told media.
“Obviously the last game hurt a little bit, and the great thing about the Rugby Championship is we finished with those two tests against South Africa and probably got exposed to a lot of what will be coming on the northern hemisphere tour, so great preparation for us.
The All Blacks have not toured Europe since 2018, three years ago, where they beat England 16-15 at Twickenham before losing to Ireland 16-9 in Dublin a week later. They finished the tour with a comprehensive 66-3 win over Italy.
Since that tour, the squad has been through a number of changes and a new generation of young All Black players heading away to experience playing in Europe for the first time.
“We’ve done the southern hemisphere part now, now we go to the northern hemisphere and it’s been three years since we’ve been up there,” Foster said.
“We’ve got a whole lot of players that wouldn’t have seen a lot of the big stadiums up north and been exposed to rugby there, so, again, it’s going to be a great learning curve, but we’ve just got to make sure we keep driving our standards and we want to keep growing and playing well up there.”
The All Blacks will be looking to improve on their last performances against South Africa, where the played two tight games for one win and one loss.
Foster wants the side to make ‘on-field decisions quicker’ to capitalise on opportunities that were there for the taking that they missed against the Springboks. He thought the side was ‘hesitant’ to make the right call once space had been created.
“If you took away the last-minute kicks in both games, they were two similar games, very tight. We did a lot of good things. I thought the first half of the second test, up three tries to one, we played well,” he said.
“We had come through a rough period but played well. We’ve still got to keep learning and make on-field decisions a little bit quicker than what we are.
“We created some space and created options, particularly off lineout time that were there, ready for us to take, and yet we seemed a little bit hesitant to call that.
Foster attributed the hesitancy to the ‘big occasion’ for some of the inexperienced players in the squad who were ‘surprised’, but believed that there are positive signs the squad is heading in the right direction ahead of their end-of-year tour.
“I think that’s just big occasions, it’s some new players playing new opposition for the first time, so there’s a real learning curve to that, but the positive signs are that we know that we’re not too far off, and, going forward, we’re going to a northern hemisphere tour where, again, we’re going to get met with a little bit of the unknown for many players.
“I think that’s what I’m really excited about with this tour.
“We’ve got a chance to keep learning the lessons that, when we do get surprised on the park, we need to react a lot quicker than what we did.”
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