Foster gives side a pass mark for Eden Park performance

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No surprise surrounded All Blacks coach Ian Foster's comment that being the first Test of the series it was good to emerge with a win under the belt.


"We stated before this series was really big for us. When you look at the bigger picture, it's a chance to play a team we've got massive respect for, we know is doing really well, and bringing them down here for three in a row is pretty special," he said.


Foster acknowledged the way the team's leadership group under captain Sam Cane, and those coaches left standing after Covid's intrusion into the camp, had made a 'phenomenal' contribution to the week.


The result was a reward for the side's reduced preparation time after Super Rugby Pacific and the way in which they focused on doing enough to keep players' minds busy without getting them cloudy, he said.


"I thought we saw a very determined Irish team," he said after the game.


"They would have had enough glimpses of good moments in that first quarter particularly, and the way they finished, to walk away with a bit of hope," he said.

New Zealand had been ruthless when they took their scoring chances when under a lot of pressure. But, defensively, he was only prepared to give the side a pass mark.


"I thought our goal-line stuff was excellent, but we allowed them too many opportunities to get behind us," he said.


Foster was happy to have his choice of Scott Barrett on the blindside of the scrum vindicated. He was a good player who had been one of the form forwards of Super Rugby Pacific.


"I know that most of that form was at lock, and a little bit at 6. It was a role that suited us. He carries well, he defended well, and contributed to a pretty good set piece. He should be pretty proud of it. There was a bit of circumstance around the selection, and it sped up an idea we've had in that space.


"Hopefully, there's another game now for everyone to talk about rather than the other one they talk about [World Cup semifinal in 2019] when he played 6," he said.


Although the All Blacks were down on possession and position percentages, Foster said they were not targets the side chased.


"Possession is not always an indicator of the game you want to play, and probably the eight per cent we were short, was all those pick-and-goes near the goal-line that seemed to go on and on forever.


"Overall, I think how we used our ball was pretty effective, and that's more important for us," he said.


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