Discipline and defence a focus for All Blacks in 2023

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Coach Ian Foster told Midi Olympique that last season's 1-2 series loss to Ireland, coming after consecutive losses to Ireland and France in November 2021, showed the work that still lay ahead of the All Blacks.

The concentration on improving saw more work on the physical aspect of their game and lifting their conditioning to what they could expect at the World Cup.

"Our coaching group sees young players raising their level, working very hard. It's still not enough, some decision-making has put us in difficulty, but it's a process.

"We still have to learn fast. In our group, we will face France and an increasingly confident Italian team. Discipline and defence will be our two major projects."

Foster said the All Blacks had felt the impact of Covid-19.

"Since our defeat in the semifinals of the 2019 World Cup, the country has been particularly isolated, and the [Rugby] Championships have been greatly affected by the pandemic.

"The rest of the world, mainly Europe, could maintain its competition, and that weighed.

"But looking back, I see this as a great opportunity. We have thrown young players into the deep end, and over the last 12 months, we have certainly lost matches, but we will be ready for this great World Cup that awaits us."

Foster said there had been a lot of frustration about the All Blacks' losses, but that was part of being the All Blacks coach.

"What is essential is not to debate the situation, but to turn the brain to find the solutions and a new plan.

"We are now six wins in a row, we had some good games, but we know we have yet to reach our full potential. The way we ended 2022 is a good launch pad for this World Cup year.

"We are going to see powerful All Blacks in 2023."

The biggest weakness in 2022 was how games were lost after they led the way in most games.

"This pressure has led us to make the wrong decisions at important times. So, today is [now] our priority.

"We are a naturally attacking team, and we love playing in the open, but we will absolutely have to raise the bar on efficiency and pragmatism for the World Cup."

The All Blacks could no longer believe they could automatically win games.

"We often entered World Cups as favourites, and for many years we failed to live up to our status. However, our group has players accustomed to the World Cup's requirements; others will discover what that is about.

"The most important thing is that we have to embrace this pressure and not suffer it. Players have to prepare for our Cup deadline through their Super Rugby Pacific season, because there will be no tomorrow. If we manage to tick all these boxes, we will have a great chance of showing we have grown in three years."


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