Our focus is now on South Africa - Foster


Coach Ian Foster was pleased with the first-up effort and the level of achievement, which hasn't always occurred in first Tests.

But lessons were still learned to be applied for the remainder of the season, which would need to change before the potential Lipovitan-D Rugby Championship decider against the Springboks.

Assessing the performance, Foster said: "We lost the second half. We made a lot of tackles in the second half. We probably weren't as efficient with some of our opportunities and couldn't put them under sustained pressure.

Foster said that was a little down to the All Blacks but a lot from how Argentina improved.

"They lifted a bit. In many ways, having a strong defensive effort will bode well for us. We like to finish strong, and the Pumas did that. There was a lot of turnover ball, and we opened up too much.

Lessons were dished out by Argentina and reinforced that All Blacks must still respect their chances while ensuring they know what's required to deal with an opponent.

"We've got to be diligent right through to the end."

But there was no doubting the All Blacks' impact at the start, especially with it being their first game of the year.

"For us to go out and play with the tempo and pace in that first half was critical. It took the game and crowd away from them, which was important for us. I liked our efficiency.

"We've grown, but let's face it, it's a new year; it's game one. I'm pleased with our start against a team we've got a lot of respect for.

"We've got to prove that we are still growing from here. That's the beauty of Test match rugby, every week is a different challenge."

But overall, Foster felt the All Blacks were stepping in the right direction, especially with Saturday's Test against the Springboks in mind.

He was delighted with the performance of the scrum. It had been a dominant feature of the game.

"I was proud of their work around the park and ball-carrying.

"I was impressed with them [props Ethan de Groot and Tyrell Lomax]. When you look at last year and the second half of the campaign, and they were starting to form their combination, we saw some massive growth, and the scrum became a real weapon by the end of the year.

"It was a good start and it was their we really imposed ourselves against Argentina and it became a major psychological area for us."

Recovery will be a significant factor for the side after arriving in Auckland on Monday afternoon.

"It's always tricky. It's like the old days of the Rugby Championship, where we used to go from Argentina and arrive in South Africa on a Saturday night.

"We'll acclimatise. It will be a bit different but the challenge is still the same. We've adopted our strategy about bringing the whole squad here. We felt the time together was critical for us. South Africa had a different strategy, but at the end of the day we'll be played at Mt Smart and all bets are off."

Foster said first five-eighths Damian McKenzie brought his Super Rugby form into the All Blacks.

"He was nice and calm and controlled things nicely. We were under pressure with the first kick, but he scrambled back and saved us. He didn't get flustered and controlled most of that game really well. He'll be pleased."

Captain Sam Cane said after the charge down of McKenzie's kick that if Argentina kicked off again, they would not make the same mistake.

"I thought our ball carry was really good in the first half, and that makes it easier for our guys coming in and cleaning out but also the fact that we were playing for space. We were getting gainline and playing to where the space was and that always makes it easier."

Cane said the players felt the change in intensity from the Super Rugby they had been playing to Test rugby.

The game was all about collisions, and as a result, there were some sore bodies in the All Blacks dressing room, but having been an afternoon game, there was a chance to get some good recovery in and a good sleep before their 6 am bus trip to the airport.

All Blacks v South Africa: Saturday 15 July, 7.05pm NZT, Go Media Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland.


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