Bledisloe Cup as important as ever - Foster

He didn't think the New Zealand public had grown weary over the tenure of the Bledisloe Cup, now in its 19th year.


"I think the Bledisloe has always been something our public is excited about. New Zealand-Australia Test matches are pretty special.


"The fact we've held it for a while is nice but kind of irrelevant right now. It's about the here and now, and there would be nothing better than to lock that away on Thursday night."


Australia was like New Zealand in seeking consistency in performance. The Test was a home game for them, and they had to win it to have a chance of winning the Bledisloe Cup and the Championship. The same applied to New Zealand.


The side was primed and ready to go in what shaped as a big game in the Championship.


"Everyone is sort of on the same starting line with two rounds to go, so it's a big weekend to make a bit of a statement," Foster said.


Both teams liked to play at tempo, and both would attempt to stop the other playing the way they wanted.


"We've seen when they get front foot ball, they've certainly beefed up some of their ball carry options and all designed to get in behind you and get speed of ball and start to exploit that short side and get their nines [halfbacks] moving at you. And, in some ways, the game doesn't change from Argentina where you're going to have to control that gain-line and that tackle point.



"So we kind of know their game because it looks pretty similar to ours at times."


Assessing their last outing, the 53-3 win over Argentina, Foster said he felt it was possibly a better defensive game than attacking.


"We put Argentina under a lot of pressure and forced mistakes, and that gave us opportunity to play what we wanted to do, so the lesson for this week is probably the same.


"We've got a lot of respect for the way Aussies play, their speed, their skill sets, and we know if we're not up defensively you're chasing your tail a little bit."


Foster was confident recalled No8 Hoskins Sotutu was ready to step in Ardie Savea's boots for the game. Sotutu, who hasn't started in the Championship, was released last weekend to play for Counties Manukau to get some game time. He had trained well throughout his time with the All Blacks squad.


"He's been training alongside Ardie and putting pressure on during training weeks. He knows his roles well and needs to go and execute the game we need him to play, but also not to be afraid to show some of the skill set he's got.


"We are confident he's ready."


Due to circumstances, choosing Scott Barrett on the blindside flank hadn't been possible after his showing in the first Test against Ireland, but playing him there was an option they wanted to keep up their sleeve and use.


Returning Australian first five-eighths Bernard Foley was an organising type of five-eighths who was astute, an experienced Test match player who had played with many of the side for a long time.


"He'll probably bring a bit of enthusiasm and love the chance to put his hand up to get back into that group so I don't think they'll lose anything and may gain a little."


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