New Zealand coach Ian Foster insisted on Friday he can right the misfiring All Blacks, resisting calls to drop Sam Cane as captain for the Rugby Championship after a home series defeat to Ireland.
Cane has been named captain of a 36-man squad for the championship, with New Zealand playing their opening two Tests in South Africa on 6 and 13 August before facing Argentina and then Australia.
In the wake of last Saturday’s 32-22 series-deciding third Test defeat at home to Ireland, New Zealand media had speculated that veteran lock Sam Whitelock could take over the All Blacks’ captaincy.
Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had also been tipped to replace Foster as head coach after the All Blacks lost five of their last six matches.
However, Cane has been retained as skipper while Foster will also hold onto his job despite a review by senior New Zealand Rugby Union bosses.
“I have faith in Sam Cane,” Foster said of the decision to retain the captain.
“We all know we have a high accountability when you wear an All Blacks jersey and we need to do that better.”
After NZRU chief Mark Robinson spoke of a “challenging” past fortnight, Foster insisted he can still get the All Blacks back to winning ways, starting with the two Tests in South Africa.
“As a head coach there’s been a lot of questions the last couple weeks,” Foster said.
“I’m strong, I’m resilient. I believe I have a good feel with the players, I’m strategic and I’m also accountable.
“We’re never happy when we don’t achieve what we want to,” he said.
“We understand the fans aren’t happy with that, but we have a plan to play a brand of rugby against South Africa that New Zealanders will be proud of.”
The bulk of the squad that lost to Ireland has been retained, and Highlanders lock Josh Dickson and Blues playmaker Stephen Perofeta are the only uncapped players.
With Angus Ta’avao, Brodie Retallick and Jack Goodhue making their way back from suspension and injury, the All Blacks have called in centre Braydon Ennor, prop Tyrel Lomax and Dickson for the South African leg of the tournament.
New Zealand play South Africa in Nelspruit on 6 August, then Johannesburg a week later.
The All Blacks host Argentina in Christchurch on 27 August, then again in Hamilton the following weekend.
They face Australia away in Melbourne on 15 September before hosting the Wallabies in Auckland for their final home game of 2022 on 24 September.
Our squad for the 2022 LipovitanD Rugby Championship. pic.twitter.com/buA1m8iDz8
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 22, 2022
New Zealand squad: Dane Coles, Samisoni Taukeiaho, Codie Taylor, Aidan Ross, George Bower, Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Ethan de Groot, Angus Ta’avao, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa’i, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane (capt), Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Folau Fakatava, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo’unga, Stephen Perofeta, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Quinn Tupaea, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Will Jordan, Sevu Reece
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images