Foster vows to fight on as Cane retains All Blacks captaincy for Rugby Championship

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A defiant Ian Foster has vowed to prove he is the right man to coach New Zealand after naming his squad for the Rugby Championship.

Foster knows he is under pressure after the All Blacks suffered a first home series defeat to Ireland last weekend.

The under-fire head coach was due to face the media last Sunday, but the press conference was cancelled at late notice and there had been no word from the New Zealand camp until Foster fronted up in Auckland on Friday.

The 57-year-old has retained Sam Cane as captain following reports he would be replaced, while prop Ethan de Groot and loose forward Shannon Frizell replace Karl Tu'inukuafe and Pita Gus Sowakula in a 36-man squad.

Foster says he will fight on as New Zealand prepare to start the Rugby Championship with a clash against world champions South Africa at Mbombela Stadium on August 6.

He said: "As a head coach, there have been a lot of questions the past couple of weeks. Let me tell you who I am, I'm strong, I'm resilient, I think I've proven that.

"I believe I've got a great feel and relationship with my players. I'm strategic and I'm also accountable and I take that on board.

"I promise you, I understand that and I'm really excited about the chance to show you what this team is made of, working alongside the players we've selected in this squad."

Foster revealed Joe Schmidt will not travel to South Africa but is helping him with "strategic areas" of the game and says he will make changes to his staff.

There have been calls for Scott Robertson to take over as All Blacks head coach, but Foster is confident he can turn things around ahead of the World Cup next year.

"There's no doubt about that I’m under pressure," he added. "But can I just say, I'm always under pressure?

"I've always felt that pressure and external people will try to intensify that pressure but it doesn't change the fact that as an All Blacks coach you live in that world all the time.

"Does it hurt? Yes it does. The key thing for me is making sure everything I do is about ensuring we have robust processes and make sure we have got the right people sitting in the right seats."

Foster says he can see why the decision to cancel a media conference the day after losing to Ireland did not go down well.

"I understand the frustration [about the cancelled news conference]," he said.

"All I want to say on that regard is that I as a head coach would never ever not communicate with my fanbase when it’s expected I communicate with them.

"I know my responsibility is to talk to the fanbase and if I knew I was supposed to do that, I would do that all the time.

"I love the passion of our fans and I love the opinions. That is what it is, but I guess all I can assure people is the person that I am and my role in this team.

"I'm not here for any other reason than to do the best I can for this team. Right now, I can understand frustrations that we've lost a series, but my job is to put perspective around that, to make sure we take the lessons and this All Blacks team comes out stronger, I want to be part of the solution.

"Will there be some changes? Yes there will, but like I said, I'll let you know shortly."

New Zealand Rugby Championship squad:

Forwards: Dane Coles, Samisoni Taukeiaho, Codie Taylor. Aidan Ross, George Bower, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Ethan de Groot, Angus Ta'avao, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa'i, Sam Whitelock, Sam Cane (captain), Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu.

Backs: Finlay Christie, Folau Fakatava, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Stephen Perofeta, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Quinn Tupaea, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Will Jordan, Sevu Reece.
Replacement players travelling to South Africa: Josh Dickson, Braydon Ennor, Tyrel Lomax.

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