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'Looks like we've watched too much NBA': Why Foster was 'grumpy' after win

By Finn Morton
(Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

The All Blacks put on a show at Washington DC’s FedEx Field on Sunday morning [NZT] as they recorded a convincing 104-14 win over the United States.

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It was a first-half masterclass from the New Zealanders, who quite literally began to pile on the points from the get-go. From the kick-off, the men in black ran the ball from inside their 22, all the way to the house for the first points of the Test.

After backrower Luke Jacobson crossed for the first, Ethan de Groot, Will Jordan, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Angus Ta’avao and Quinn Tupaea all crossed for at least one in the first-half.

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While the Eagles did create history of their own in the final stages of the opening term, with scrumhalf Nate Augspurger crossing for the United States first ever try against the All Blacks, it was all one way traffic at the home of the Washington Football Team.

Leading 59-7 at the break, the All Blacks appeared a chance of being just 40-mintues away from a record-breaking total.

But instead the All Blacks were held to a 19-7 advantage in the 20 minutes after half-time, with the Eagles stepping up defensively. A few errors also creeped into All Blacks game, which had All Blacks coach Ian Foster feeling “grumpy” after the win.

“Well it’s nice as a coach to be grumpy about a few things isn’t it, and reality is a bit of looseness came into our game particularly on broken play,” Foster said following the 90-point win.

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“Looks like we’ve watched too much NBA during the week and we were trying to make things up as we went along.

“But overall I was pretty delighted with it. The atmosphere here was pretty special.

“I felt we showed enough composure after making a few errors for me to be pretty satisfied. But there’s enough clips for the review to keep me excited.”

The Eagles were without some key players for this Test though, as this match fell outside of the November international window.

As Forster acknowledged how this makes things more difficult for the Eagles, the All Blacks coach also said why he believes that they can use the result to improve moving forward.

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“I think the biggest challenge for the Eagles is when you’re trying to have access to their top team when it’s an outside the window game. It’s not easy for them to attract all their best players with some of them tied up in European clubs.

“Flip side of it is that you think about them as a group, the chance to play a big game in their home country, in an iconic stadium, it’s a pretty special occasion.

“I know there’ll be plenty made of the score line but in order for them to grow, these sort of games are probably really important for them.”

Despite the score line, the Test against the Eagles has no doubt proven useful to selectors ahead of Tests in Europe. The All Blacks are set to face Wales, Italy, Ireland and France to round out their 2021 season.

The match against the Eagles saw the All Blacks welcome back some familiar faces to the matchday squad, while some up-and-coming places also had their chance to impress.

Notably, Sam Cane and Dane Coles both played 30-minutes in their return to Test rugby via the bench.

Cane has been out of action for most of this year with an injury, but made his return to rugby via the Heartland Championship a couple of weeks ago.

Sam Whitelock also returned to the All Blacks for the first time since playing against Australia earlier this year, after the 33-year-old missed the Rugby Championship. Whitelock stayed in New Zealand for the birth of his third child, before not travelling to Australia for the second Test against the Springboks as originally planned.

“Probably describe it as a tour like no other for the All Blacks. It’s going to be a 12 week tour, five Tests back in the Southern Hemisphere, two weeks that we couldn’t go home and now we’ve got five weeks in the Northern Hemisphere,” Foster said.

“This game was vital for us in terms of, we’ve got a number of players who haven’t played for three to four weeks and it’s a great chance to have a really good hit out.

“To do it in a special stadium and on a special occasion I think is pretty valuable for us.

“Really delighted with some of the skill stuff that we were able to put out on the park and it gives us a good launching pad (for) what’s going to be a big month.”

Whitelock echoed his coaches’ comments, describing the Test as “really valuable” experience for him.

“Pretty much just going to replicate the words there. I’m one of those players who hasn’t played a lot over the last couple of months,” Whitelock said.

“It’s always nice when you’re getting those combinations again with different personnel.

“Really valuable for myself to be out there.”

The All Blacks play against next Sunday morning [NZT] when they face the 2021 Six Nations champions Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff.

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J
Jon 2 hours ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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