Ian Foster said on Thursday that past Rugby World Cup semi-finals will count for nothing during this weekend’s last-four game with Argentina.
The All Blacks, three-time champions, are preparing for their ninth appearance at this stage of the tournament, having won four of their previous eight semi-finals.
They are just one game away from next Saturday’s final against England or South Africa, after last weekend’s tense quarter-final success over Ireland.
History suggests it should be no contest. Of the 36 matches between the two sides, the All Blacks have won 33, Argentina two and there has been one draw.
At the World Cup, the record shows a convincing 3-0 advantage to New Zealand.
“We are massively respectful of Argentina,” he told reporters before Friday’s match in Paris.
“If you go into a World Cup semi-final with any expectation that the past is going to happen again, you have got problems,” the 58-year-old added.
The Pumas, considered serious underdogs for the meeting, will feature in just their third World Cup semi-final after beating Wales last weekend in the last eight.
In 2007 they lost to South Africa in the semi-finals, going on to beat France in the third place play-off, and eight years later in 2015 it was Australia, coached by current Pumas’ boss Michael Cheika, who denied them a place in the final against the All Blacks.
They face the All Blacks on an annual basis in The Rugby Championship, and overcame them last August in New Zealand after having claimed a first-ever win over Foster’s side in 2020.
“Once you beat them once perhaps you humanise them more. But the game starts nil-nil,” said Cheika’s assistant coach Felipe Contepomi, a veteran of the successful 2007 campaign.
“Everyone says they will go through to the final but we are here to play our best rugby.
“We have a plan, beating them in Christchurch doesn’t count.”
Cheika’s side have lost just once so far during this tournament, a turgid opening defeat at the hands of 14-man England.
“I’ve been really impressed with Argentina, how they’ve carried their campaign,” Foster said.
“It was a great victory against Wales where they showed their tenacity.
“We know they’ve got that as we play them regularly and they’ve been difficult opponents. So there will be no surprises,” Foster added.
Former New Zealand flyhalf Dan Carter, who won the 2011 and 2015 World Cups, observed training this week on the outskirts of the French capital.
“We couldn’t get too close to Dan as he had a nice cream jacket on which meant none of us could hug him as we were all dirty,” Foster joked.
“He was pretty protective about getting that dirty too so we kept our distance, but it was great having him in,” he added.
Argentina’s forwards, who imposed themselves so well against Wales in the quarter-final, will again play a major part with the All Blacks likely to pay special attention to No. 8 Facundo Isa who will win his 50th cap for the Pumas in Paris.
“He is a good player. He looks fit, powerful,” Foster said.
“They have got a lot of damaging ball carriers and he is probably at the top of the tree,” he added.
© Agence France-Presse
Photo: Andres LARROVERE / AFP