“South Africa has had a plan for a long time” - Foster

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All Blacks coach Ian Foster said South Africa would have targeted the game, just as England had when winning their 2019 Rugby World Cup semifinal. It was important to be ready for that sort of approach at the weekend.

 

"We've got no doubt that South Africa has had a plan for a long time for this game.

 

"What we have learned is not to be surprised at the intensity of the opponent's build up and not to get lulled into a sense of their previous two weeks and their previous form and think that that is going to be an indicator of what happens on Saturday," he said.

 

While he has been involved in preparing to play the Springboks during Steve Hansen's coaching regime, it will be the first time in charge for Foster against the old foe. However, he didn't think it was the biggest game of his tenure.

 

"When you're coaching, every game is the biggest game you're ever going to have. That's the beauty of coaching the All Blacks the spotlight is always on the team.

 

"We've had a lot of big games already but this has got a bit of a legacy moment about it, 100 Tests and 100 years and that has made it a bit special and so does the fact we haven't played South Africa for a couple of years and we've got a bunch of players that are really keen to measure themselves," he said.

 

 

Foster said the All Blacks could feel from the amount of support coming their way that the whole country seemed to be excited about playing South Africa again.

 

They had gone into the campaign looking to be in a position to win the Championship while also having the right amount of confidence for a Test with South Africa.

 

"We're well-positioned but we're now going to measure ourselves against a team that is going to play a different game of rugby, we're excited by that and the fact it has got a 100th tag on it is going to make it even more special," he said.

 

New Zealand expects the Springboks to be ruthless and clinical because they were at their best when playing their power game.

 

"That's not to say they can't do other things but I think that's when they're at their best so we're preparing for a team that's been targeting this game and will come out with that focus and we've got to make sure that in those two aspects we've got to win that battle," he said.

 

"We can only expect them to be at their best. We saw signs of that during the Lions' series…they won it and the style of the win was probably irrelevant in many ways. We've got to give them credit for that," he said.

 

They had looked flat against Australia, but they had come out of quarantine to play a fast team that went at them.

 

"They're very experienced, we're expecting them to have learned a lot in the last two weeks and there's a lot on the line for them, and there's a lot on the line for us. So, both teams need to be at their best and that's what we're preparing for," he said.

 

Choosing the back three for the Test had been tough on Sevu Reece, who was in good form, but the trio selected was taller and just in front in the aerial game.

 

Foster felt the bench would be crucial for both sides. South Africa had worked hard on building their depth, and he felt the introduction of bench players in the second half could be as telling as the first half tactically.

 

Centre Anton Lienert-Brown and flanker Dalton Papalii weren't considered because of high hamstring strains.  No8 Hoskins Sotutu wasn't able to train earlier in the week due to two leg knocks. Tighthead prop Angus Ta'avao has a calf strain.

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