‘We’ve just got to be good at our game’ - Foster

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All Blacks coach Ian Foster said people would have their opinions on South Africa's style, but the difference for the All Blacks was that they had to play them.

 

So, New Zealand's approach was to focus on how they intend to play them. He felt some of the criticism had been over the top and the All Blacks were careful not to disrespect South Africa.

 

"They've chosen a style of play, and it's been very effective for them. It was very effective in 2009 when they hailed bombs on the All Blacks, and we lost three Tests in a row, so it's not like this is new.

 

"The last thing we will do as an All Black team is pass judgment on that because last week we saw how effective, and good they are, at it, and we've just got to be as good at our game," he said.

 

Foster said he didn't think the Springboks' rush defence was so much the problem for the All Blacks in their first Test in Townsville as uncharacteristic errors in forcing plays early in phases. And in the backline, they hadn't been as effective holding onto the ball in tackles.

 

"We've got to get better at that, and one way to play the game properly is to make sure we hold onto the ball and really back our skill execution, so there's been a focus on that," he said.

 

 

Part of the preparation was ensuring problems were diagnosed, which he felt they had done, and another part was acknowledging things they could control. At that same time, there were things that South Africa did very well. 

 

For the All Blacks, the final Test of this phase of their season would involve a mix of learning from Saturday's mistakes while making changes to continue the growth of the side and provide some freshness.

 

The easiest way to use the lessons from the first Test was to involve several players again.

 

"This is a big opportunity. We didn't play South Africa last year, they've been No1 in the world and we want to learn as much as we can about how to play against them," he said.

 

"There are a lot of players who are still learning the art of international rugby. I put Akira [Ioane] in that space, Brad Weber's the same, David Havili and even Jordie Barrett to the extent of having a regular run of games at 15 [fullback] and what he learns from that.

 

"So, there's a lot of learning going on, but we don't want to hide behind that fact, we still want to perform. Bringing a little freshness in keeps competition high and makes sure that energy levels in this fifth Test in a row are still high and we don't use that as an excuse," he said.

Foster said it was good to have No8 Luke Jacobson back where he was named for the first South African Test only to withdraw with a stomach complaint.

 

At halfback, Weber was playing well and his selection ahead of TJ Perenara was a case of growing Weber by giving him a chance to start against South Africa while using Perenara's experience off the bench.

 

Anton Lienert-Brown's return allowed Rieko Ioane's move to the left wing with Sevu Reece on the right.

 

Thought was given to retaining loose forward Ethan Blackadder, but Foster said he had played two physical games, and as the game was the last of five consecutive Tests, they felt they had a bench that could give them plenty of freshness and enthusiasm.

 

It was a deliberate strategy, and Perenara and Damian McKenzie were part of that thinking as well, he said.

 

Returning first five-eighths Richie Mo'unga, who will also be on the bench, was in a good place, but they wanted to give him a graduated return to the side, so he didn't have to bear a full load from the outset.

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