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‘Under the radar’: Ian Foster’s assessment of All Blacks after another big win

By Finn Morton
Ardie Savea of the All Blacks and team mates perform the Haka during the The Rugby Championship & Bledisloe Cup match between the Australia Wallabies and the New Zealand All Blacks at Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 29, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

After winning the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship on Saturday, coach Ian Foster fired a warning at the All Blacks’ international rivals.

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The All Blacks are coming off three big wins from as many starts, and they aren’t done yet. Coach Foster doubted whether it was “quite enough” a month out from the upcoming World Cup.

New Zealand have shown that a year is a long time in Test rugby, as cliché as they may sound. 10 months ago, the men in black snuck by the Wallabies in a controversial thriller in Melbourne.

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That underwhelming performance followed a series of disastrous results. With coach Foster at the helm, the All Blacks had lost to Ireland, South Africa and Argentina.

New Zealanders were ready to hit the panic button with the Rugby World Cup about a year away. For a team who expects to challenge for glory, things hadn’t gone to plan – far from it, in fact.

But the All Blacks have turned things around in a big way.

Led by wing Mark Telea, the All Blacks put on an attacking clinic during the second half at the MCG on Saturday, as they ran away with a statement 38-7 win over Australia.

The victory extended the All Blacks’ unbeaten run to 10 Test matches.

For a team who was doubted by many not too long ago, cast aside as a mere pretender ahead of the World Cup, the All Blacks have found their mojo once again.

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But coach Ian Foster wants the All Blacks to get better.

“Maybe if you guys could dampen some of your headlines, that’d be good,” Foster joked after the win over Australia. “We could keep under the radar for a little bit longer.

“What other people think is kind of irrelevant to us. We’re trying to build something that gets us where we want to be.

“We’ve made the point early is that we feel the best way to prepare for the big stage is to prepare for the big stage every week. That’s what we’ve had to learn.

“We know that we had some growing up to do as a team coming into this year and so far we’ve taken three pretty strong steps forward which we’re pretty proud of.

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“But I’m not sure it’s quite enough just yet.”

Eddie Jones’ Wallabies were clearly the better team during the first 20 minutes of their clash with New Zealand at the world-famous MCG last weekend.

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After going behind early, the Wallabies hit back through Rob Valetini – and looked all but certain to extend their advantage when Carter Gordon lined up a penalty attempt at goal.

But the attempt, which appeared to be a relatively routine shot at goal, missed the target. The Wallabies had failed to extend their slender two-point lead, and the All Blacks were ready to make them pay.

Tries to Codie Taylor and Will Jordan saw the visitors take a hard-fought lead into the break. Following another tense period, the All Blacks blitzed their rivals with three quick tries.

The 31-point win saw the All Blacks win The Rugby Championship title, and also retain the Bledisloe Cup for another year.

“Not relief, celebration,” Foster added. “If it’s relief, that means you’re going in with a bit of fear and trepidation and you’re worried about things.

“We treasure these opportunities. I know the records strong and I know that’s kind of hurting the Aussies but the only message I can give is that it means a lot to us.

“It’s one thing we never, ever take for granted and we get delighted when we win it. It’s a pretty happy shed in there.”

The All Blacks will look to extend their unbeaten streak to 11 matches when they take on the Wallabies at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

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11 Comments
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Pecos 352 days ago

These types of articles always seem to omit that the KEY factor in improving the ABs fortunes was the re-jigging of the coaching team. Ryan & Schmidt have taken the team to new levels & more to come. Before them, Foster & his men were coaching the ABs into mediocrity & lower.

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Craig S 352 days ago

Although the further improvement may sound a bit contrived by Foster, I think there could well be more to come. It will be interesting to see how the remaining 3 newbies go this weekend, assuming he gives them a start of course. Can’t wait to see Shaun Stevenson in particular. That said, all the form and rankings count for little at RWC. It’s festival rugby at a knock out competition and anything can happen on the day. Bring it on!!

J
Jon 352 days ago

I'm going to be excited to see what more theyve got next week. Likely a few more changes in store, and with 3 different distinct game styles in 3 games, will it reset back to a flat Dmac like against Argentina, with a roving Stevenson and Roigard slicing through everyone? McDermot and Gordon will be so much better for the experience, a shame the forwards will be a bit rekt.

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Turlough 4 hours ago
Jean de Villiers' three word response to 'best in the world' debate

This ‘raging’ debate is only happenning in media circles and has never been a topic in Ireland (although SA media are interested). It makes the media companies money I guess. SA are RWC champions and #1 ranked team although Ireland are back within a point there. The facts point to SA. For a lot of 2021 France beat ALL their rivals and Ireland similar in 2022-2023. It is not wrong to say that on such form either can be deemed to be the current best team if they have beaten all their rivals and ranked #1. The ‘have to have won a world cup’ stipulation is nonsense. The world cup draw and scheduling has been tailored to the traditional big teams since the start. The scheduling also which sees the big teams sheltered from playing a hard pool match the week before has also been a constant. It is extraordinary that for example France have made so many finals. Ireland who were realistically only contenders in 2023 were in a Pool with two other top 5 teams and had to play one of them 7 days before a quarter final against France or New Zealand. Always going to be a coin toss. Scotland’s situation was worse. New Zealand had great chances in 1995, 1999, 2007 but they could not win a tight RWC match. The first tight match they ever won was versus France in the 2011 final, literally they lost every other tight match before that. Some of those NZ teams around that era were #1 surely?

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