All Blacks are ‘freshest we’ve been’, says assistant coach Ian Foster
Foster defends Beauden Barrett’s goalkicking ahead of England clash at Twickenham
New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett during training ahead of his side’s clash with England. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Reuters
The All Blacks assistant coach, Ian Foster, believes the players selected to face England on Saturday will be the best prepared they have ever been for a northern hemisphere tour and denied that Beauden Barrett’s goalkicking at outhalf was an area of concern.
Foster compared New Zealand’s well-rested first-choice squad – who arrived three days earlier than the rest of the party from Tokyo – with the England camp, who are recovering from a brutal Springboks Test.
“We’ve been able to come here fresh which is good – this is probably the freshest we’ve been,” Foster said as the squad prepare to face England at Twickenham for the first time in four years. “The players have been bouncing around, probably trying to get us management up. They’ve probably got more energy than us at the moment.
“They’ve used that smartly. They’ve got some good ideas about the game so we’ve got plenty of enthusiasm there. Ultimately that’s going to drive a good week but it’ll come down to how we execute. Twickenham, full house, big game, they’re always pretty special.”
Playing the Wallabies, Springboks and Pumas so often in the Rugby Championship, and enjoying sustained success against those teams, can create mental challenges when attempting to inspire the same motivation. That is certainly not the case for the All Blacks over the next two weeks.
“Where these England and Ireland games are pretty special for us is they’re one-off games. We don’t get a chance to go away and come back at them in another two or three weeks,” Foster added. “From that sense it’s great preparation for what’s coming one year from now; how you deal with different things that are thrown at you in the moment and how quick can you adjust.”
Not even questions about Barrett’s inconsistent goalkicking in losses to the Springboks and Lions in Wellington over the past year could unsettle Foster. “It’s more talked about by the media than anything. I don’t see too many articles saying he’s kicked 11 out of 12 in the last three Tests but if he kicks two from six and two hit the posts it’s like a national calamity.
“We want to be the best goalkickers in the world and we’re working hard to do that. If you look at our numbers overall we’re actually pretty good, but it’s certainly much talked about when we have a game that goes off. There’s lots of other reasons we didn’t win the third Lions Test. A lot of those we were in total control of, and some we weren’t.”