We’re expecting an ‘invigorated Eagles team’ - Foster

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Coach Ian Foster said they were trying not to over-complicate their game, but the breakdown and discipline at the offside line were areas to work on before moving on to Europe next week.

 

Foster said the United States would have been stung by their loss to Uruguay a fortnight ago because they had played well in their July games.

 

"They were very, very competitive and will be very disappointed but, from what we hear, they're putting all that to one side with a chance to play in their own country on a pretty special stadium that they don't normally play, in front of a big crowd. And to represent their country here against us is very much a motivating factor.

 

"We're expecting an invigorated Eagles team. We're expecting them to carry hard and play with utter commitment, which you always expect out of the States. I think they'll be really combative in that space," he said.

 

Foster said it was important for the All Blacks to remember they were coming off a loss to South Africa and, while they would go into the United States game as favourites, what was important was the quality of their game.

"In many ways, new combinations, and time off, there are plenty of excuses for a bit of rust, so I guess we expect a little bit of a settling in period, but by the end of the game we need to make sure we're nailing our performance," he said.

 

Foster said wing George Bridge had worked hard on the aerial issues exposed in the first Test against South Africa. He was a quality player and needed to go into the game with a clear head and trust himself.

 

"One game doesn't make someone a bad rugby player and we've got a lot of faith in him," he said.

 

Prop Ethan de Groot will have his first start at loosehead. Foster said he had seen him grow during his time with the side despite the frustration caused by injury at the start of the Australian leg of the tour. Even when he couldn't train because of his neck injury, he wanted to jump in to be involved.

 

"You can't question his attitude and desire to play and, like all players when they are coming back from injury, they get a bit fidgety and want to play. But he's trained well and prepared well. I'm excited about him. He's very much a player for the future and very strong, and he can't wait to get out there.

 

"We felt it was better to give him the starting jersey because there's a lot of energy there and I think he would get pretty fidgety on the bench because he's waited a long time for it. He thoroughly deserves a start," he said.

 

New lock Josh Lord, who is on the bench, had settled in well since joining the squad.

 

"He's a confident young man, but it will be an exciting, nervous time for him when he pulls on that black jersey and gets a chance to run out, but what we've seen is someone who is right to deal with that. We selected him on the basis to start working with him and to see where we feel we can get him, and we've seen nothing to contradict that," he said.

 

Foster said Braydon Ennor's first start at centre this year came with his body at 100 per cent after a long time out, and he looked instinctive on the training ground.

 

"I expect a few nerves from him in his first start with the All Blacks, but we've always recognised him in the last couple of years, and it's good to have him for a period of time where we can have a chance to see how he fits in.

 

"He's looked good at centre, he's also looked good on the wing and we still see him as covering both areas and he's looking fast, that's one of his key attributes," he said.

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