Rugby World Cup 2019: Ian Foster shelves All Blacks coaching speculation until after playoff

While the All Blacks will try to halt their slide down the world rankings, the Rugby World Cup third-fourth playoff also offers assistant Ian Foster a chance to resurrect his claims to the coaching role.

Head coach Steve Hansen will step down after this tournament and since his team's elimination from title contention, focus has fallen squarely on who should be next.

Until the semi-final loss to England, Foster seemed the frontrunner to provide continuity across a programme that had won two consecutive World Cups and taken the No.1 world ranking to Japan. 

He seemed a dead certainty, after the All Blacks smashed Ireland in the quarter-finals.

But those credentials took a massive dent, when the English totally outplayed the All Blacks on Saturday, leaving Foster a potential scapegoat for the defeat.

He's been resolute in fending off questions about his future.

"The World Cup's not finished and I've just got to keep putting all my energy into that. What happens after that will happen and we'll have plenty of time to talk about that."

Instead, Foster has had to concentrate on picking his team up, reviewing the defeat and preparing them for a test match against Wales, who have only beaten New Zealand once before - 66 years ago.

rwc playoffs
Photo credit: Newshub.

"We see this as a chance to redeem ourselves. I think it's a chance to show we're a better tham than we showed last week and for us, as a group, that's really, really important.

"We're actually pleased we've got the game. It's not easy getting knocked out, going home and spending all summer thinking 'what if'.

"We've been given an opportunity to address that and it's up to us to figure out if we're good enough to do that. Whether it means a lot to other people is probably irrelevant to us."

Foster admitted the England review was tough, but necessary. 

"It's part of your responsibility to the here and now to bottle up the lessons for whatever the group is going forward," he says. "You want to be able to say, 'this is what we learnt in 2019'. 

"There are some things there that we kick ourselves, that we didn't quite do as well as we wanted to and there's some learnings about what England tried to do to us, so it's really important."

Join us at 10pm Friday for live updates of the All Blacks v Wales Rugby World Cup third-fourth playoff