WELLINGTON (Reuters) - All Blacks coach Ian Foster says he is hopeful South Africa will be able to take their place in this year's Rugby Championship but his immediate concern is getting it right for their three remaining Bledisloe Cup matches against the Wallabies.
The Springboks will make a decision this week on playing in the Nov.7-Dec. 12 southern hemisphere competition in Australia as they grapple with player welfare concerns and uncertainty over COVID-19 travel restrictions.
"We would love to have them there," Foster told reporters.
"Quality people, quality team. They would be fantastic for what is cooking ahead (with the Rugby Championship).
"We know the challenges they have been through ... but it would be great to play against them on the park."
Argentina, the other team in the Championship, have already arrived in Australia and are undergoing quarantine protocols.
After the All Blacks were held to a 16-16 draw with the Wallabies in their Bledisloe Cup opener on Sunday, Foster spent much of his time with reporters on Monday discussing the decision not to go for a drop goal after the match had ticked past the regulation 80 minutes.
In hindsight, he said, the team should have slowed the pace of their attack down and taken some time to assess the situation, with flyhalf Richie Mo'unga attempting a drop goal if needed.
Mo'unga, who was nursing a sore shoulder after a series of what Foster described as late tackles, said on Monday he had probably not communicated well enough as the All Blacks frantically hurled themselves at the Wallabies line.
"I was in position to take one but the call was for the forwards to just pick through the middle," Mo'unga said.
"Could I have had a better voice? Maybe. But when you're in like that, it's a bit hectic.
"As a game-driver we could definitely do that a lot better."
The second game against the Wallabies is in Auckland on Sunday.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)