WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Ian Foster's future as All Blacks head coach will be decided later this week although his position seems a little more secure after his team’s win over South Africa at Johannesburg on Saturday.
Foster had been under pressure after the All Blacks lost to the Springboks in the first round of the Rugby Championship which was their third consecutive loss and their fourth in their last five tests.
After a first-ever home series loss to Ireland, New Zealand Rugby confirmed Foster was in his position only for the two tests in South Africa at the start of the Rugby Championship. Reports in New Zealand said Foster had been told he would be expected to resign if the All Blacks lost again on Saturday.
But the All Blacks achieved a major form reversal to win 35-23.
New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson called a news conference on Sunday to discuss Foster’s situation, saying he was doing so in the interests of “transparency.” But Robinson may have succeeded only in muddying the waters because he failed to provide an unequivocal assurance that Foster’s job is safe.
Robinson said no action will be taken until the All Blacks team returns to New Zealand from South Africa next week. He will meet with team management to debrief after the South Africa matches and will then make a recommendation to the NZR board.
Robinson said the win over the world champion Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday was “an incredible performance and result from the All Blacks in an incredibly hostile stadium."
“We’re delighted for the team and management after the last few weeks of adversity," Robinson added. “We’re proud of them. It was really a critical moment in the development of this team. We’ll be making no further comment until that time which will likely be the middle or later of the week coming up.”
Robinson said he had been in constant touch with Foster recently and “we believe we know where we stand. We just have to work that through with him. There’s a huge amount of passion and speculation, we appreciate that."
Any final decision on Foster’s future or changes to the coaching or management team will have to be made by the board.
“The appointment of the coach is the board’s responsibility,” Robinson said. “Management provides insight. We will provide that to them. We’re trying our best to keep people informed the best we can."
Foster spoke at a news conference after Saturday’s match of the pressure he had been under as a result of the series loss to Ireland and opening loss to South Africa.
“It comes with the job,” he said. “It has been pretty vicious. “There has been a lot of onslaught, particularly from our New Zealand media. They’ve got high expectations of us and they’ve made that loud and clear.
“They’ve clearly come very strong at me as a person. Some of them have even called our selections pop gun which I found quite insulting for players that give everything to play for their nation.”
The All Blacks next play Argentina in Christchurch, New Zealand on Aug. 27.
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