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Ian Foster wants All Blacks to ‘challenge ourselves’ before RWC

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images)

For coach Ian Foster and the All Blacks‘ exciting 36-man squad, the journey to this year’s Rugby World Cup is already underway.


Later this year, the All Blacks will carry the hopes of a rugby-mad nation into the illustrious event. The dreams of many will either be shattered or brought to life as the 33-player squad chase rugby immortality in France.

But that’s still months away.

The All Blacks don’t begin their World Cup campaign until September 8 when they take on hosts and tournament favourites France in Paris.

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But again, the journey has already begun.

While the Webb Ellis Cup is the holy grail of international rugby union, Foster said the All Blacks must be “dominant from Test one” ahead of the World Cup.

The All Blacks have been training in Auckland this week, and are preparing to fly out to Argentina on Sunday for their opening Test of the 2023 season.

With just over two months to go until the opening match of the most prestigious tournament in rugby, the All Blacks will be eager to make a statement against Los Pumas in Argentina.

“It’s always about winning every Test,” Foster said on The Platform.



“I think you can fudge it and say you want to build and say it’s all about the World Cup, and let’s be honest, we all know it’s the trophy that matters the most for us at the end of the year.

“The best way for us to prepare for that… we want to be dominant from Test one.

“We want to use these opportunities ahead of us (in) the Rugby Championship, the Bled, and that game in London against South Africa, to really test our combinations, to challenge ourselves.

“I don’t think you really test yourself well enough if you give yourself a mental out of saying the game doesn’t matter. I think it does matter for us.

“From a mindset perspective, we want to attack, we want to play well, and we really think it’s important for us to do that to climb on that plane and go to France in the right state.”


As seen on Sky Sport throughout Super Rugby Pacific, Foster was regularly in attendance at New Zealand derbies alongside his assistant coaches.

While the All Blacks have only just revealed their 36-man squad, the coaches have been doing their homework for months.

“I hear lots and I really respect people have got different views. I actually like that” Foster added. “I do chuckle when people say, ‘Have you thought of this?’

“I just want to reassure you, we do actually think about some things.

“That’s what the last three months (have been) about, it’s about filtering different plans and sometimes people have really good ideas that solve a problem but there’s a reaction that creates another one.

“I’ve got no doubt that the likes of Ardie would be an outstanding bench player but he’s also an outstanding starter. What you gain in one aspect, you want to make sure you don’t lose in the other.

“Clearly we’ve got a plan… we’ve always looked at Super Rugby form, we get excited by it, but we have to interpret Super Rugby form and translate that into Test match rugby.”

The All Blacks take on Argentina in Mendoza next weekend, before returning home to face fierce rivals South Africa in Auckland.


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G 386 days ago

We need Foster to challenge HIMSELF and go where he has never been before like beating France, Ireland and not losing to Argentina or know, kind of be the ABs coach deserve

rod 387 days ago

It looks like a good squad, the forwards have a bit of mongrel about them and size & weight to boot! It’s Ryan & Schmidt who have changed the mindset of Foster I think, you can see the difference in the selections. Everyone in NZ is bagging BB atm but they did that in 2015 with Carter but I think he will have a big influence through the WC! NZ might drop the first game against France to shift to the other side of the pool as SA did in 2019 but never underestimate the ABs they have won world cups by because they score tries 😎

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Shaylen 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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