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'Quite insulting': Foster opens up on 'vicious' media pressure from New Zealand after win

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Ian Foster has opened up about the pressure he has felt from the New Zealand media after the All Blacks broke their losing streak with a 35-23 win over the Springboks at Ellis Park.

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The embattled head coach’s job has been under scrutiny after a historically bad run from the end of last season with just one win from six tests.

Foster’s side levelled the two matches in South Africa 1-all to retain the Freedom Cup and shake up the Rugby Championship which now seems an open race for the title.

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“I think the performance that we saw today was a result of the last two and a half weeks,” Foster said.

“This group is reformed, reshaped a little bit, and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort of coming up here to altitude to have a game that was swinging around.

“It was losable, and winnable, but to finish strong over a mighty team at their home ground like this is a pretty great occasion for us.”

When asked about what the win meant in terms of relieving the stress that the side has been under, the All Blacks coach opened up about his experience with the media and felt that he had been personally attacked.

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He was left insulted at comments around the selection policies as the team searched for winning combinations.

“Well the stress has been very good for me, I think I’ve lost 1kg over the last two weeks,” Foster joked.

“Maybe over the next couple weeks I’ll lose a few more. It comes with the job, it has been pretty vicious, there has been a lot of onslaught particularly from our New Zealand media and they’ve got high expectations of us and they’ve made that loud and clear.

“They’ve clearly come very strong at me as a person, some of them have even called our selections pop-guns which I found quite insulting for our players that give everything to play for our nation.

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“That pressure has been strong but it doesn’t change the fact that adversity is the best teacher for character, and we’ve stayed tight.”

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The All Blacks got out of the blocks much faster than they have had all year, finding early success with a David Havili cross-field kick to break the Springboks open.

Despite a scoreless opening quarter, the visitors did open the scoring with a penalty and then the game’s first try through captain Sam Cane, who scored in the corner after a long range break from Will Jordan and Rieko Ioane.

“We haven’t started that well this year and for whatever reason we’ve been behind,” Foster said.

“There are a number of reasons behind that. Today it was nil-all there for a long time but you could just feel that it was a real arm wrestle.

“That’s what South Africa is like, you’ve just got to bide your time. The second half of each half that was where we were targetting, particularly tired legs, and the way we wanted to play.

“I thought we reaped some rewards for that.”

Foster believed he saw signs last week in Mbombela that the All Blacks were becoming a different side to the one that lost 2-1 to Ireland at home in July.

“As I said, I saw that character last week as well. I’ve seen that character for the last two and a half weeks with this All Black team,” he said.

“We didn’t get the bounce of the ball last week and we didn’t play well enough to win and South Africa did. Sometimes it’s not a dramatic change, it’s just getting confident, getting used to playing together and that’s what this group has done.”

 

 

 

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