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Sam Cane: Early coach appointment the 'writing on the wall' for Ian Foster

By Ned Lester
Head coach Ian Foster of the All Blacks and Sam Cane of the All Blacks speak to the media after losing The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina Pumas at Orangetheory Stadium on August 27, 2022 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

All Blacks captain Sam Cane admits he wasn’t surprised by Ian Foster’s decision to bow out of the running for All Blacks coach for the next World Cup cycle, saying New Zealand Rugby’s decision to make the appointment within the next few weeks despite Foster’s objection was telling.


The All Blacks’ usual process of appointing a coach in the months following a World Cup has been disregarded this year in favour of an appointment within the next six weeks, a change Foster believes is due to New Zealand Rugby bending to external timelines.

Those timelines – suspected to be that of a leading candidate for the role – now align with New Zealand Rugby, sending Foster a clear message that his input is not as highly valued as that of others moving forward.

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Cane was determined to focus on the positives when he fronted media Wednesday, although one question did prompt a “no comment” from the skipper.

“A decision’s been made now and we can all just move on and put all our energy into the season ahead,” he told OneNews.

“There’s sort of been a couple months of it dragging out, wondering what’s going to happen, so now a decision’s been made we just have to accept it and move forward.”

Cane revealed he had found out about the decision the night before it was announced in a Zoom call with Mark Robinson and Chris Lendrum along with the All Blacks leadership group.


The Chiefs flanker then admitted he was over the drama and speculation around the All Blacks’ future coach, but denied any suggestion that the outside noise would prove a distraction for the team on their World Cup campaign.

“As long as all the appointments are made in the first half of the year and then things don’t drag on into the international season, I think it’ll be fine. If anything it gives a bit of certainty and like I said, that allows all the energy to go where it needs to go.

“I know there’s also a lot of management, a lot of people behind the scenes who will also be affected by this decision and the uncertainty around their jobs so we feel for them. It’ll only not be disruptive if they can get clear communication on what their future looks like and that’ll allow them to do the same as us and put all their energy and focus into being the best they can be in their role.”



That desire for clear communication came across as a point of emphasis for Cane, as a follow-up question on how he felt about NZR’s communication with himself prompted the “no comment” response.

When questioned on his reaction to Ian Foster withdrawing his contention for the All Blacks head coach role in 2024, Cane said he “probably expected it, to be honest.

“The fact that they wanted to make an appointment early was probably the writing on the wall.

“I know he’s made a public statement yesterday, he’s disappointed with the process. But similar to the players, he’s going to accept it and move on and knowing Foz I know that he’s always going to put the team first and do everything he can to make sure we’re in the best shape to go to France and make New Zealand proud and bring home a World Cup.”

The Zoom call with NZR revealed that players will be consulted on the coaching decision, and while Cane said he had no strong opinions on Foster’s successor, he was also hesitant in fully endorsing NZR’s ability to navigate the appointment process.

“I’m not going to stand here and criticise those in leadership roles that I’ve never been in or experienced. I don’t have the expertise to comment on what they should and shouldn’t be doing.”


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