All Blacks loss of experience an opportunity for players to grow_1

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster feels that the team he has taken over will have a point to prove after a disappointing end to the Steve Hansen era.

Foster’s predecessor was one of the most successful coaches in All Black history but the end of that rein has left Foster with a few problems to solve.

All Blacks have a point to prove

“I think we’ve got a bunch of guys who have got a point to prove, and we’ve got some great opportunity to bring some new talent through, so it’s quite nice looking at a bit of a clean slate,” Foster said on Sky Sports Magazine programme, the Breakdown.
“You look at the likes of Reado [Kieran Read] – big shoes to fill – and you look at the experience of Brodie Retallick, who is going to be away for a year and a half. You can’t replace those guys. But what they do is they create great opportunities for the next tier.”

The loss of Kieran Read won’t only be felt from a leadership point of view, the All Blacks will also need to find a new number 8. Foster said that the Super Rugby campaign would be key for him in identifying possible candidates to take over the position. Foster revealed that Ardie Savea was in his thinking for the position.

“It’s not a position of concern, but it’s definitely a position of interest. We used Ardie [Savea] there before, and I love the potential of what he does, you have to have him on the park, and we’ve got a number of guys we’ve utilised.
“This Super campaign is really vital for those positions – six and eight – we need people to actually show week-in, week-out that they’ve got what it takes to make the next step.”

New Zealand Rugby have taken fire over their workload management requirements for top All Blacks which many feel is ruining the Super Rugby tournament. Foster defended the system but said there needed to be a coming together with coaches where concerns could be tabled.

“It’s not perfect. We’re hearing voices, we understand that it doesn’t fit everyone, but we just need to get together with the coaches again and have another talk. We’ve all agreed on what we wanted to do for this year, and now everyone’s saying there’s some other ideas – well that’s great, let’s listen to them, and figure it out.
“We have listened before, and we’ve come up with a plan. Now suddenly people have voiced quite vocally that there’s a few things about it they don’t like, well that’s okay, we probably would have liked to have heard it a different way, but that’s the way we heard it, and that doesn’t mean what they’re saying hasn’t got some validity.
“This isn’t a ‘them vs us’ thing. It’s a ‘how the heck do we get players performing at their peak right through a long season?’ It does require breaks, and it does require some management of time and there’s always a cost to them.
“If you look at the results of it, we’ve been pretty good in Super Rugby. We often have four teams in the playoffs and we’ve won it regularly, and the same with the All Blacks. So the overall policy is working.”