All Blacks number eight Ardie Savea has thrown his support behind coach Ian Foster after a positive 35-23 win over the Springboks in Johannesburg.
Foster has been under tremendous pressure from media and fans as the All Blacks had endured poor form that saw the side lose three games on the bounce. However, the impressive win over the Springboks could signal a turn of tides for the All Blacks.
Savea dedicated the win to his coach and reaffirmed his backing of Foster after acknowledging the challenging period he has been through.
“This performance was for all of us, but for me, that’s my coach, I back him 100 percent, side by side,” said Savea.
“He has been under a lot of pressure, and I know Foz (Foster) doesn’t want to make it about himself, but I just want everyone to know that all the players have got his back. He’s a great coach, he’s got great coaches beside him, and we back him 100 percent. I hope everyone that reads this backs us because we are going to get it.
“The last couple of weeks this team has been through adversity, and in life and sport when you go through adversity it brings the best out of people. I saw something saying belief only takes us so far … it took us pretty far this week. I’m just proud of everyone in this team stepping up, especially at Ellis Park. It’s bloody hard, I’m knackered, and can’t wait to hit the sack and go see the family next week.”
Savea says the criticism of his team came about because fans care about the All Blacks, and he was delighted to get the job done.
“There are always doubters, always negativity, but that’s OK, because that makes everyone better, and people care,” he said. “Our fans care, the media care, which is fair, but also we had to step up and do our job.
“When people go through adversity, when they’re stuck in the trenches, some things come out that make us special. Today that was it, but it’s only a start. We’ve won one out of two in the Rugby Championship, and we’ve got to keep going.”
The loose forward admits that there is a lot to work on and thus a starting point for the All Blacks to grow. Savea also acknowledged the work that forwards coach Jason Ryan has done since linking up with the squad.
“It’s a start, mate. The boys are stoked to get the dub (win), but in the back of my mind it’s only a start. Hopefully we can build on this, and take confidence. Jason [Ryan] has done an amazing job directing our forward pack where it needs to be,” he said.
Show of character
All Blacks captain Sam Cane revealed he was proud of how his team showed character to get through adversity through hard work.
“We had to circle the wagons and focus internally,” he said. “There’s never been a question about the level of care within the group and work ethic.
“But to be in a test match like that tonight under immense pressure, in front of such a hostile crowd, and in a game that goes back and forth, belief and composure needs to be strong. That’s not always easy when you’re coming off a run of losses, and to produce that speaks highly of the group.
“Test rugby is about executing different moments under pressure, and not overplaying your hand, or trying to force something because you’re behind. It’s trusting each other and trusting what we’re trying to achieve as a team, and it’s easier said than done when there’s a mountain of pressure and 60,000 fans screaming at you.
“I’m really proud of the composure and belief. It’s one thing when you’ve been on a roll to have that belief; it’s another thing when you’re coming off a rough patch.”
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