All Blacks coach Ian Foster has laughed off predecessor Steve Hansen’s ‘defection’ to the Wallabies, and is rather focused on Friday’s epic clash against the Springboks.
Hansen is assisting Wallabies boss Eddie Jones, a long-time friend, as an unpaid adviser this week while the Wallabies prepare to face World Cup hosts France in a warm-up match in Paris on Saturday.
Foster insisted he had known for a month that Hansen had agreed to help rivals Australia prepare for the World Cup.
A little too late or a monkey off the All Blacks' back? 🐒@mark_keohane and Zels drop their predictions for the eagerly awaited clash between the Boks and New Zealand at Twickenham 🇿🇦v🇳🇿 pic.twitter.com/BfK1Ht1a7p
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) August 24, 2023
New Zealand hooker Dane Coles said he was “gobsmacked” by 2015 World Cup-winning coach Hansen’s move, but Foster, like Coles speaking in London, where the All Blacks are preparing for their warm-up match against South Africa at Twickenham, was in a jovial mood when asked for his views on the subject.
“Outstanding,” said Foster. “He [Hansen] has agreed to give me three pages of notes about everything that’s going on in their camp… I chuckle at the headlines.”
Formerly Hansen’s assistant in the New Zealand set-up before succeeding his old boss in 2020, the 58-year-old Foster added: “You guys [the media] must be pretty excited by it, but he told me a month ago he was going in.
“He is good mates with Eddie, but there’s no lack of trust [between Hansen and New Zealand] and in his commitment to us. I’ve got no issues really. In fact, we might bring him in for a couple of days.”
The All Blacks caught the Boks cold when they last met in July, with New Zealand winning 35-20 in Auckland.
The Kiwis launch the World Cup against hosts France, another of the favourites to take this year’s title, at the Stade de France on 8 September.
New Zealand and South Africa are in the same half of the draw for this edition. Depending on pool results, the only teams to win the men’s Rugby World Cup three times could meet each other again in the quarter-finals.
“This is our final game before the Rugby World Cup and this test is critical in our preparation,” Foster told reporters on Wednesday after naming a strongest possible lineup for the World Cup warm-up against the world champions.
“With just two weeks to go, it’s an important opportunity to get us battle-ready for the start of the tournament. These games are always intense and physically challenging, and I’m sure this one will be no different.”
Addressing concerns on whether key players may get hurt so close to the World Cup,Foster added: “Some things are part of the game. If you go in half-hearted and worrying about the consequences, those things are almost guaranteed to happen.
“The same thing is going to happen in the World Cup. You don’t want injuries in any game. This is ideal for us. It’s the sort of buildup we need to make sure we keep climbing our performance levels.
“The only way to go into this is full throttle.”
© Agence France-Presse