Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga has backed under-fire head coach Ian Foster to lead the All Blacks to the 2023 Rugby World Cup despite New Zealand’s sorry state of affairs.
New Zealand Rugby reacted to the historic series defeat by Ireland by sacking forwards coach John Plumtree and attack coach Brad Mooar, with Jason Ryan brought in to assist Foster, who kept his job along with much-maligned captain Sam Cane.
Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, now a selector for New Zealand, has taken on a key analysis role and will work alongside Foster, who takes up more responsibility with overseeing the backline and attacking gameplan.
There has been a huge outcry in New Zealand, with some pundits calling for Foster to have been fired, too, following this month’s 2-1 home series loss to Ireland.
But, Mo’unga, who started on the bench for all three Tests against Ireland, believes Foster will return the All Blacks to their former glory “because of his coaching ability”.
“Fozzie is the man for the job. 100% big Fozzie,” he said. “I think now he’ll have a more hands-on role with the backs and with attack.
“I’ve had that taste early on in my All Blacks career [when Foster was an assistant] and I was able to gain so much knowledge and had ‘wow’ moments out in the field when he was coaching.
“It’s good to see that happen again the last couple of days.”
Mo’unga says the All Blacks have a point to prove when they clash with the world champion Springboks in the Rugby Championship, starting in Nelspruit on 6 August, before a week later in Johannesburg.
“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to right a few wrongs and to be better because we know we’re capable. We need to make a statement about who we are as All Blacks,” he said.
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