All Blacks head coach Ian Foster believes he is still the right man for the job even after losing the Test series against Ireland 2-1.
Ireland’s triumph made them the first northern hemisphere team to win a series in New Zealand in the professional era and resulted in an increasing call for Foster to be sacked as All Blacks coach.
Looking for improvement
Foster understands that his job security is being scrutinised but is adamant that he will extract the best from his squad going forward.
“As a head coach, there have been a lot of questions the past couple of weeks,” Foster told Stuff.
“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.”
Despite being increasingly under fire, Foster believes the pressure is inevitable with the All Blacks job but trusts his processes to come right.
“There’s no about that I’m under pressure,” he said.
“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 also touched on the missed press conference on Sunday that All Blacks communications manager Jo Malcolm cancelled as she wanted to protect Foster from the media.
“I understand the frustration (about the cancelled press 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 to 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.”
Right man for the job
Foster added that he is focused on the job at hand and is not worried about anyone else’s “agendas” as he believes he is the man for the job.
“I’m kind of the Covid coach aren’t I?” he said.
“I don’t know, I can’t control anyone else’s agendas.
“I’ve never seen this as a popularity contest, like I said, the All Black coach is about connecting with a group of players, believing in them and you’ve always got to test to see if you’re the right person. I believe I am.
“But the comment I made about being resilient, well I’ve learnt that pretty quickly.”
Joe Schmidt is now officially on board and in the All Blacks set up in the original capacity decided, despite calls for the former Ireland coach to play a bigger role.
“There is lots of talk about Joe’s role, but Joe’s role is as was flagged six months ago,” Foster said.
“He’s come in as the independent selector, he also has a secondary role as being an opposition analysis for me, like an opposition head coach and he is working with me behind the scenes on the strategic areas we feel we need to move.
“He’s not travelling with us and at this stage hasn’t got an on the field role, but he is working hard with me in particular on the strategic areas of our game.”
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