All Blacks coach Ian Foster says he is working behind the scenes to achieve change in the All Blacks, but has still kept Sam Cane as captain for the Rugby Championship.
Foster is contracted through until next year’s World Cup, but has come under increasing pressure to hold onto his job following the 2-1 series loss at home to Ireland.
Speculation had mounted through the week that Cane would be replaced by Sam Whitelock, but in naming his 36 strong squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship, Foster retained Cane as skipper.
“We have taken on board the lessons from the (Ireland) series and are excited about looking forward to the next phase of our Test season,” said Foster.
Speaking at today’s media conference, Foster said he was still the All Blacks head coach and in the past few days the team had developed a clear plan forward.
He said the All Blacks did not achieve what they should have in the series against Ireland and “robust conversations” have been held since with New Zealand Rugby management.
He said he had heard there needed to be change and he was working behind the scenes to achieve that, though he would not say what those changes will be.
“You can ask me a hundred times what that is and I won’t be able to give you an answer just yet. I’d like you to bear with me, but we’ve got things in place right now and as soon as I can let you know a couple changes I’ll let you know as soon as possible.”
Foster said he was proud of the accountability shown by All Blacks players, staff and management after their recent losses.
“We are never happy when we don’t achieve what we want to achieve, we understand the fans aren’t happy with that but we have a promise that we’re looking forward to getting stuck into our work when we get together and to go and play in this Rugby Championship,” Foster said.
Addressing rumours around his coaching position, Foster defended his relationship with his players and his credentials.
“Let me tell you who I am, I’m strong, I’m resilient, I think I’ve proven that. I believe I’ve got a great feel and relationship with my players, I’m strategic and I’m also accountable.”
He said there was no doubt that his coaching position was under pressure, but it came as part and parcel with being the All Blacks coach.
Foster said he was excited to welcome back Highlanders duo Ethan De Groot and Shannon Frizell to the All Blacks fold for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
Tyrell Lomax, Josh Dixon and Brayden Ennor will also join the squad as injury cover, he said.