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Foster: Springboks will be the real deal

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Lynn McConnell     13 Sep 2016     Getty Images

Foster told a Tuesday press conference that the line of questioning made it seem it was just a case of the All Blacks turning up to win. History said that was never the case against the Springboks.

"This is South Africa. For us, we're preparing to play a team that historically, and we're talking the last three or four years, they've beat us, they've pushed us really close, they're always physical, the breakdown is a massive battle, the set piece is a very even contest and they've got backs that can play," he said.

It was always a case of a Test against the Springboks being on top of the list of the games the All Blacks look forward to.

"For us it is still the All Blacks v South Africa and we know how tough these games are. They are certainly playing with a lot of intention, the Springboks. They are moving the ball and we've seen them if you give them any space that they can be very, very dangerous," he said.

Teams will have been working on ways of containing the All Blacks, just as the All Blacks had been studying their opponents.

"As this year rolls on opposition are going to know more about us, they're getting better whoever we play. While the Springboks have had a couple of losses I still think time together under a new coaching group, new combinations that they'll improve.

"We have to get better. We know that and we're making sure that our focus is on our own improvement and making sure we don't get complacent with our own levels," he said.

Foster was happy with the way his rearguard of fullback Ben Smith and wings Julian Savea and Israel Dagg were developing.

"The back three have really grown through the Rugby Championship and we're delighted with that. It has been a real challenge for Izzy to go on the wing but primarily he is running faster at the moment. Last year he was struggling with his injuries and probably wasn't running as fast as he could and for an outside back that is the No. 1 tool you need isn't it?"

Asked about the level of confidence the All Blacks appeared to be playing with, Foster said: "You don't wake up confident, it takes a lot of hard work. And it takes a heck of a lot of work in terms of talking to each other, training together, understanding what we're doing and that's how we go about it.

"We're winning and everyone is patting us on the back but it takes hard work, and it has got to be weekly hard work. The minute you slacken off for a couple of days it goes so we've just got to make sure we keep the routine going," he said.

While a good deal of work was going into fitness, that was something other teams were trying to achieve but what New Zealand were doing was looking to the group of 23 to maintain freshness to maximise the benefits of fitness with 32 being involved during the week.

That had been borne out in the way halfback TJ Perenara had stepped up to lift the tempo when coming on earlier than usual to replace Aaron Smith.

Foster said Dagg's emergence as a kicker was not something that happened overnight. He kept turning up to kicking sessions when they were held and while sent off to the other end of the field with the amateur kickers, when it was clear that he was serious in his intent he had been invited into the kicking group. It was something he wanted to do and it was good when he stepped up in Hamilton, he said.

Foster said nothing was being held back during the Championship, the All Blacks were trying everything they could and it wasn't all occurring easily.

"The over-riding aim was to put the best possible plan out on Saturday night to play a game that they traditionally and historically is going to be massively hard for the side.

"But will our game evolve and change over the next six months? Yes it will, there will be some tweaks but right now we're not holding anything back," he said.

Foster said one of the beauties of the Rugby Championship was the different styles of the teams they played.