Having survived the axe after a historic home loss to Ireland, Ian Foster has vowed that there will be changes as the All Blacks prepare for the two-Test mini-series against the Springboks in the Republic.
Foster has been the subject of intense media speculation after New Zealand were decisively beaten by Ireland – their first home series defeat since 1994.
Following a record of four losses from their last five Tests, the Kiwis are in their worst global rankings position in fourth place, which has led to speculation over Foster and captain Sam Cane’s roles in the team.
However, Cane has been retained as skipper of a 36-man squad for the Rugby Championship while Foster will also hold onto his job despite a review by senior New Zealand Rugby bosses.
“We never are happy when we don’t achieve what we want to achieve,” Foster said shortly after the squad announcement.
“We understand the fans aren’t happy with that, but you have a promise that we are looking forward to getting stuck into our work when we get together, to go and play in this Rugby Championship, and in South Africa, a game of rugby that New Zealanders can be proud of and this team.”
But. there is talk in the local media that assistant coaches John Plumtree, Brad Mooar, Scott McLeod and Greg Feek are on the chopping block.
However, according to Stuff.co.nz, Plumtree helped Foster and Joe Schmidt select the Rugby Championship squad so it’s unlikely the former Sharks and Hurricanes coach will get the boot.
That leaves attack coach Mooar, defence guru McLeod and scrum boss Feek staring down the barrel.
“I’ve also heard that there does need to be some change and right now, I am working behind the scenes to achieve that,” Foster said. “You can ask me a hundred times what that is and I won’t be able to give you that answer just yet.
“I’d like you to bear with me, but we’ve got things in place right now, and as soon as I can let you know a couple of changes, I will let you know as soon as possible.
“Out of respect for a couple of processes I need to not say anything more,” he added.
Foster confirmed that Schmidt will provide greater analysis of opposition, but won’t travel with the squad to South Africa for the two Tests on 6 and 13 August.
“He’s come in as an independent selector. He also has a secondary role of being an opposition analysis for me, like an opposition head coach, and he is working with me behind the scenes on the strategic areas that we feel we need to move.
“Excited to have him on board. He’s not travelling with us so we’re clear, and – at this stage – hasn’t got an on-the-field role, but he is working hard with me, particularly, on the strategic area of our game.”
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