Foster spots one big area for improvement

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Coach Ian Foster said Australia had analysed the ruck area well and liked to attack in those inside channels and caught some of the All Blacks' edge defenders wide in the 38-21 win.


It's an area the All Blacks would need to keep growing, one of the few in their defensive approach that was so outstanding on the day.


Foster was impressed with the side's desire to play and to look for opportunities to attack with and without the ball.


They demonstrated their commitment to the Championship, something Australia coach Dave Rennie had questioned.


"It came down to our defence. We put them under a lot of pressure through our defence, and we forced them into some errors. We forced them into some loose offloads, and we were able to pick up a few plums there as well. So hats off to Stormy [defence coach Scott McLeod] and the work he's doing with the guys, and the desire of Ardie [Savea] and the group to commit totally in that space.


"It wasn't a picture perfect game in many ways but the attitude and the commitment to run, and scramble, I thought was outstanding," he said.


They were composed when suffering the red card to fullback Jordie Barrett, and when skipper Ardie Savea left with a head injury. That composure continued from vice-captains first five-eighths Beauden Barrett and lock Brodie Retallick.


Foster said he was 'pretty surprised' by Barrett's red card, and they would be putting a case together to present to the judiciary on it.


Barrett had lost balance, and he tilted, and it could be seen what happened. Foster didn't think a technique problem was involved in the incident.

Foster said the 20-minute law used in the Fortinet Rugby Championship had demonstrated its worth around such a contentious red card.


"It's why all the Sanzaar countries are pretty united in wanting to carry on this global trial. We were a keen supporter before the games and I think today's thing probably justifies it," he said.


The completion of a Bledisloe Cup clean sweep meant a lot to the side.


With the changes required beforehand, and the replacements needed during the Test, the selectors were rewarded for their earlier decisions to give players time on the field, as their depth proved invaluable.


"It's a squad that has worked hard to get role clarity, we're getting there, and let's face it, we let through a few with guys shuffling around positions that we were a bit short a couple of times. It was far from perfect, but the attitude was perfect," he said.


Foster said he was happy with the way halfback Brad Weber had played and also the effort of TJ Perenara when he came on to show his composure. It was always their goal to have two world-class halfbacks contribute during the 80 minutes, and they had achieved that.


He said wing Rieko Ioane had suffered calf injuries in 2019 that denied him time at the start of the season, and he hadn't fully recovered until the end of the World Cup.

"He just wasn't fast in 2019, he's fast now and he's got his speed back, and he's got that little swagger that he's proud of. He's embracing a little more of a leadership role and he's embracing the dual task of wing and centre," he said.


Captain Ardie Savea said the head injury that forced him from the field occurred when he had his face stood on accidentally. He had then failed an HIA test which he hoped he would pass on Monday.


"The odds were against us but [I'm] truly proud of the boys and how we dug deep and put a performance like that [together]."


Savea thought loose forward partner Akira Ioane, who was the player of the Test, was showing signs of maturing. It was in the little things he did on and off the field that contributed.


"He's an absolute beast, and freak, and seeing him out in the wide channels and making tackles is pretty awesome to see. I've known Aki since the start and always known that was there, it was just around how do we bring that out and I think you're seeing that now," he said.


Foster said Ioane's preparation during the week was more consistent, and he was showing the benefits of focusing on what he can do right rather than listening to what he was doing wrong.


"He's grown up nicely and now that he's put a couple of games together I believe his confidence will keep growing," he said.


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