WELLINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) – Ian Foster’s future as All Blacks head coach looks in doubt after New Zealand Rugby on Sunday (July 17) launched an urgent review into the Ireland series defeat, which chief executive Mark Robinson deemed “not acceptable”.

Robinson issued a short statement a day after New Zealand’s 32-22 loss in the third and deciding Test in Wellington, resulting in a home series defeat for the All Blacks for the first time in the professional era.

“Congratulations to the Irish team for their well-deserved win last night but clearly the performance across the series for the All Blacks was not acceptable as we know they have reflected. We all know there is a huge amount of work to do,” Robinson said.

“Our focus now is to work with Ian and his team to understand thoroughly in advance of the Rugby Championship what is needed to improve performance and where to go from here. We will begin this work immediately.”

A press conference scheduled with Foster earlier on Sunday was cancelled but the 57-year-old told reporters immediately after the Test that he would not speak about his job, only the game.

Former long-serving assistant coach Foster has a modest record since succeeding Steve Hansen in 2020 and after winning the first Test in Auckland, New Zealand were outplayed by Andy Farrell’s well-drilled Irish team.

The All Blacks have lost four of their last five Tests and eight of 24 under Foster – unacceptable by his country’s lofty expectations and have dropped to a record-low fourth in the world rankings.

Foster is likely to need to explain himself to the board which last year extended his contract through to next year’s World Cup, a decision that attracted widespread criticism.

Veteran hooker Dane Coles admitted the team’s standards had slumped.

“Once we get the solutions we’ve got to move on and bring this team up to an All Black standard because at the moment we’re not performing well enough,” said Coles.

“We’re missing something at the moment. It needs to change from the whole group… we have to put all our wisdom and hurt together and come out with better solutions.”

New Zealand last changed their head coach between World Cups in 2002, when an under-performing Wayne Smith was succeeded by John Mitchell.

Robinson’s desire for urgency comes less than three weeks before New Zealand’s next assignment, two Rugby Championship Tests in South Africa against the world champions Springboks before taking on Argentina and Australia.

Meanwhile, England captain Courtney Lawes said Australia’s pre-match “smack” talk gave them the motivation they needed to beat the Wallabies 21-17 in Sydney on Saturday and clinch the three-Test series.

England lost the opener in Perth two weeks ago but recorded back-to-back wins in Brisbane and Sydney to secure a second consecutive three-Test series victory in Australia.

“They were talking smack about us,” Lawes said. “We saw plenty of stuff in the press from their players and what they were saying – some people targeting (Ellis Genge) and some people calling us Poms and what-not.

“It’s all good fuel for our tank and any good team uses that as motivation, I think.

“That motivated us a bit but the boys stuck together, stuck to our guns. We didn’t fire that many shots tonight but we found a way to win. That’s the big improvement.”

The series win was England’s second over the Wallabies in Australia since Eddie Jones took over, the ex-Japan coach securing a 3-0 victory during his first tour in charge in 2016.

He played down the impact of the Wallabies’ comments.

“We don’t talk about those things, honestly,” he said.”We’re just worried about ourselves.

“Maybe with the senior players we spoke about it. We’re a young team and we just want to look after ourselves.” Wallabies coach Dave Rennie also downplayed the comments.

“I wouldn’t say they’re smack if you read the comments made,” he said. “It’s a bit of by-play post the result I reckon.” 

Last modified: July 17, 2022