Foster to mull over slow starts against Ireland and France

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Coach Ian Foster said there were always things to consider in reviewing a season, but that failure across two Test matches was an issue.


The side showed the ability to respond as the games advanced, but the leeway conceded proved too much to overcome.


Foster said it wasn't nice losing Tests, but they had let opponents impose themselves on them. While they had come back against France in the third quarter, a yellow card and an intercept try showed the All Blacks were not clinical enough.


He said when he put the season in context, with a bigger squad, there had been growth and progress and, the last two losses would provide plenty of motivation for 2022.


Foster didn't think it was a case of teams sorting New Zealand out. The All Blacks had still been able to produce quality play against opponents, as they had shown when getting the French flustered in that third quarter on Saturday.


"We can do it, we've just got to do it for more long spells," he said.


Conceding two tries to lineout drives was frustrating. It was an area where the All Blacks had earlier been strong.


"That's 14 points that is nothing really to do with line speed, it's just to do with us executing our roles better," he said.



"Before we got to the last two Tests I was delighted with the progress, but we've had a couple of good lessons in the last two Tests. There's no doubt there's a little mental fatigue at the end of a long season and there's also no doubt we struck two teams that played good rugby against us."


Foster said the longer tour had been an incredible experience. While the All Blacks, rightly, were judged on their performances, it was also a fact, there were good teams who had lost more than the All Blacks during the year.


"I'm incredibly proud of the men. I think they've dealt with the situation incredibly well.


"It's been tough on families, the support from the families behind the scenes has been huge. It's been a great motivator for the team, but it certainly has been a long time with consecutive Test matches, and it has stretched us.


"Here's hoping we don't have another year quite like this and we can go into a normal campaign, but overall, really proud of the effort," he said.


Managing the load off the field had been a collective effort within the group. There had been a lot of honest conversations, he said, about how the group was feeling and where the pressure points were.


It was a job he felt they had handled well. There had been five captains during the year, there had been players missing for family reasons, and travel and quarantine were also in the mix.


There was disappointment that the last two weeks meant they hadn't finished strong to build on the good work they had done during the year.


"But it doesn't take away from that fact that as an All Black team they have done an amazing job," he said.



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