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All Blacks set to keep under-fire Foster

Ian Foster appears safe as All Blacks coach, though his captain and assistants less so, as New Zealand Rugby considers changes from its post-Ireland loss hibernation.

The All Blacks have gone ‘missing’ for a week following their series loss to the Irish, the first time a touring nation has triumphed in New Zealand since 1994.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) media bosses cancelled a scheduled press conference on Sunday and haven’t been seen since.

It’s been an All Black-out, with Foster and NZR chiefs keeping their heads down, avoiding all media and conducting a thorough review.

Even the team’s social media accounts have taken the week off, running counter to the All Blacks’ commercialised modern modus operandi.

Foster will emerge from witness protection on Friday for a press conference in Auckland.

Numerous NZ media outlets – including Stuff, Radio NZ and the NZ Herald – have reported a NZR board meeting has endorsed Foster staying on in the job as the All Blacks confront their next challenge: the Rugby Championship.

New Zealand’s title defence begins with two tough-as-nails Tests away to world champions South Africa, the first on August 7.

Stuff reports the assistant coaches may not be making the trip as the team attempts a shake-up that won’t disrupt the side’s chances of winning.

Well-respected coach Joe Schmidt is joining the setup, while John Plumtree (forwards), Greg Feek (scrum), Brad Mooar (attack) and Scott McLeod (defence) may be in the gun.

Sam Cane may also lose the captaincy.

Former All Black Ant Strachan told Radio NZ Cane’s position in the side could no longer be guaranteed.

“There are other pretty good 7s running around the country,” he said.

“If you start losing confidence in your captain to play every week and to lead effectively, maybe a change is warranted.

Strachan said while the All Blacks “are hurting”, the “timing was off” for major changes.

“This team is due to go to South Africa for a couple of really tough Tests. We know how hard it is to win rugby games over there,” he said.

“Making drastic change right now would be unsettling for many.”


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