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'These are the big stages': Foster's challenge to All Blacks ahead of Ireland clash

(Photo by Antonietta Baldassarre/Insidefoto/LightRocket via Getty Images)

New Zealand coach Ian Foster feels his top-ranked side is still a work in progress and learning important lessons on their end-of-year tour as they prepare to play Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.


The All Blacks have used effectively two different teams on tour, their second stringers running riot in beating the United States 104-14 in Washington and Italy 47-9 in Rome.

In between, the regulars were also in devastating form in a 54-16 thrashing of Wales in Cardiff. Most of those starters were named on Thursday in the line-up for Saturday’s clash with the Irish.

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“I think we’re still a developing team to be honest, I think we’re still growing, and these are the games help get the many of the answers to the questions we still have about our squad,” Foster told a news conference on Thursday.

“We’ve prepared with as much energy as we’ve got, and I’m excited by that. We’ve had two blocks of five tests in a row with the last block in the southern hemisphere where we finished off with two tests against South Africa.

“Now we’re close to finishing this block of five tests with one game to go after Ireland,” he added. “We are as ready as we can be for this game and certainly not lacking any motivation.”

The All Blacks face France in Paris next weekend in their 15th and final test of the year. They have won 12 and lost one in 2021.


“These are the big stages that we seek,” Foster said. “It’s about the players and strategies, it’s about how you adapt in a game because there will be situations that will be new to this particular squad, and we’re going to have to deal with it.

“A significant number of our group haven’t played a lot of tests up in the northern hemisphere. It’s a great experience for this particular group,” Foster added.


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