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Ian Foster on who All Blacks would prefer to play in quarters

By Finn Morton
Ian Foster, Head Coach of New Zealand, looks on during the warm up prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand and Uruguay at Parc Olympique on October 05, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

When asked about whether the All Blacks have a preference on who they play in the Rugby World Cup quarterfinals, coach Ian Foster offered a simple reply after New Zealand’s 73-nil win over Uruguay.

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“I think you know my answer to that, no,” the coach said with a steady smirk on his face, before pausing for a moment. The All Blacks have been written off by many rugby fans ahead of the knockout stage, but the players themselves “fancy” their chances.

New Zealand opened their World Cup campaign with a disappointing loss to hosts France. It was their first-ever loss during the pool stage in tournament history.

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But the All Blacks bounced back with three clinical victories to secure their spot in the knockout stage of the competition. New Zealand are quarterfinal-bound.

While the All Blacks have locked in their place, they’ll have to wait another couple of days to see whether they play Ireland, South Africa or Scotland in just over one week’s time.

“I don’t want to put myself under any stress in the next three days,” coach Foster said after the big win over Uruguay.

“What will be, will be, and people will theorise what they do. We will go away and have a nice glass of wine in our hotel tonight and celebrate being there. Looking forward to recovery tomorrow.

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“Clearly we have a plan for whoever it may be. At this stage we are excited about us being there, it is our first goal achieved and let’s get into the next one.”

Points Flow Chart

New Zealand win +73
Time in lead
62
Mins in lead
0
78%
% Of Game In Lead
0%
91%
Possession Last 10 min
9%
14
Points Last 10 min
0

By coach Foster’s own admission, the All Blacks will probably finish second in pool play for the first time. Les Bleus are in control of their own destiny and simply needs to beat Italy on Friday to lock in pole position.

The All Blacks would probably book a date with world No. 1 Ireland, barring a stunning upset loss to Six Nations rivals Scotland on Saturday evening.

“No, I think we will make the assumption we will finish second,” Foster added. “The Italy-France game is important now and it will be interesting to see how teams respond.

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“The great thing about the draw from many perspectives is that first or second, we know when you have a draw and the top four in the world are due to play each other in a quarter-final, you know whatever happens it is going to be a monster game.

“Nothing is going to surprise us now and we will be ready for it.”

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Nickers 6 hours ago
All Blacks sabbaticals ‘damage Super Rugby Pacific when it is fighting for survival’

Sabbaticals have helped keep NZ’s very best talent in the country on long term deals - this fact has been left out of this article. Much like the articles calling to allow overseas players to be selected, yet can only name one player currently not signed to NZR who would be selected for the ABs. And in the entire history of NZ players leaving to play overseas, literally only 4 or 5 have left in their prime as current ABs. (Piatau, Evans, Hayman, Mo’unga,?) Yes Carter got an injury while playing in France 16 years ago, but he also got a tournament ending injury at the 2011 World Cup while taking mid-week practice kicks at goal. Maybe Jordie gets a season-ending injury while playing in Ireland, maybe he gets one next week against the Brumbies. NZR have many shortcomings, but keeping the very best players in the country and/or available for ABs selection is not one of them. Likewise for workload management - players missing 2 games out of 14 is hardly a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Again let’s use some facts - did it stop the Crusaders winning SR so many times consecutively when during any given week they would be missing 2 of their best players? The whole idea of the sabbatical is to reward your best players who are willing to sign very long term deals with some time to do whatever they want. They are not handed out willy-nilly, and at nowhere near the levels that would somehow devalue Super Rugby. In this particular example JB is locked in with NZR for what will probably (hopefully) be the best years of his career, hard to imagine him not sticking around for a couple more after for a Lions tour and one more world cup. He has the potential to become the most capped AB of all time. A much better outcome than him leaving NZ for a minimum of 3 years at the age of 27, unlikely to ever play for the ABs again, which would be the likely alternative.

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