'We'll be the enemy for a while': All Blacks hoping to win over Lyon locals
Ian Foster has had a week now to digest his side’s historic loss to the Springboks but just as he did immediately following the match, the All Blacks coach appeared upbeat about where his team are at.
The All Blacks were welcomed to their World Cup training base of Lyon with a ceremony on Friday where the coach reflected on last weekend’s loss with more rumination up his sleeve and an even bigger smile on his face.
While the rugby public has debated the significance of the loss, Foster made it clear his emphasis was on the dominant Rugby Championship campaign that preceded it rather than the World Cup warm-up.
“Every team has prepared in a different way for this tournament,” Foster told reporters at the welcome ceremony. “We feel we had a very strong Rugby Championship and had a bit of a break.
“We came over here and for us now, it’s about building our team and our game, not just for next Friday, but right through this tournament.
“We’re happy with where we’re at now. We don’t like losing, but it’s a game that was really a warm-up for the World Cup and nothing matters now.”
Putting the Twickenham Test behind them, the All Blacks find themselves in the heart of enemy territory as they settle into their new home for the World Cup campaign, a campaign that kicks off against the host nation of France.
The Lyon locals have offered a friendly first impression despite their visitors being number one on the French team’s hit list come World Cup time.
“We’ll be the enemy for a while,” he added. “We know that, but it won’t change the fact I believe this city will host us magnificently.
“It’s a fantastic city, we know they’re excited about having us here and we can’t complain about being in such a beautiful spot. Hopefully, over time, the relationship deepens and they grow to like us a little bit.”
It’s a deep-rooted rivalry with many monumental moments, especially at World Cups. Foster himself has been part of the action since 2013’s French tour of New Zealand, winning those three and every further Test as an assistant but falling short in the one clash since taking the reigns as head coach.
“In all my years, the All Black-French game is always a special one. We have a similar relationship with South Africa.
“The respect is very mutual, and it comes out of us both having victories and both having defeats on the field, yet when we walk off the field, both teams have respect for how they handle each other.
“I’m sure we’ll have a great relationship with France, as a people. We promise to do what we can, but at the end of the day, we’re here to win a tournament.”
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