Bronze medal game a chance for positive finish - Foster

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Assistant coach Ian Foster said the job ahead of the All Blacks before their Test against Wales was getting over the emotion of their loss to England and building up from that.

 

They would build a little slower, there would be less time on the park but they were at the stage of the season where they had a clear idea of what they were working on so they would tweak a few things and be ready, he said.

 

While the regular match review had not been pleasant that was what reviews were about because they were trying to improve their performance. The semifinal had been a big occasion where they didn't do as well as they wanted and England had done some things and it was important to talk about that so they could learn for the future.

 

They had the chance to talk through some aspects and to get some solutions and clarity ahead of Friday.

 

"We see it as a chance, in some ways, to redeem ourselves. I think it's a chance to show we're a better team that what we showed last week and for us as a group that's really, really important," Foster said.

 

"So we're actually pleased we've got the game. It's not easy going home, having got knocked out, to have to spend all summer thinking 'what if'. We've been given an opportunity to address that and it's up to us to figure out if we're good enough to do that.

"Whether it means a lot to other people is probably irrelevant to us.

 

"Our mindset is to show that we have a chance to get back on the horse and show we have learnt something and it's important for us as a group that we finish strong. Regardless of third or fourth or whatever it is, we're seeing it as a Test match and a gift that we can actually show that we've learnt something," he said.

 

Wales would be in the same place as the All Blacks. They had come off a tight semifinal and losing was tough, he said.

 

Foster said his take from the England game had been the way England knocked the All Blacks off their game. Yet the All Blacks were able to climb back into the game and while they had been behind the eight-ball, they always felt they had an opportunity.

 

"It was about how do you swing momentum when things haven't gone your way? That's something as a group that we've banked away and here's a couple of different little things we could have done to shift it, particularly, in that last 30 minutes," he said.

 

The only injury concern in the side was with flanker Ardie Savea who had a minuscus concern in his knee.

 

Selecting the side for Wales would come down to assessing the energy levels across the squad and they would pick the team best equipped to do the job they wanted.

 

"Obviously there's a lot of assessment of where players are at physically and mentally right now and I guess the next 24 hours will tell us that picture, but we've got some quality players who weren't in that group who are jumping out of their skins. I think there's likely to be a couple of shifts," he said.

 

While the issue of departing players and coaches was on people's minds, Foster said it would be dealt with after their final game. However, pressed for some comment on retiring captain Kieran Read, Foster said: "He has been and still remains a very special leader of this group.

 

"One thing that you want is the respect of the people you go out to war with and he does that and he's got a group that is fully prepared to follow him. A smart, intelligent rugby player who's changed his game over the years accordingly to where he's at with his body and everything and he's added to his skills sets and learned as he's gone along," he said.

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