Rugby World Cup: All Blacks coach Ian Foster sparks goalkicking dissent as points pile up against Uruguay

All Blacks coach Ian Foster admits he may have sparked friction among his players with a late change to goalkicker in the 73-0 pool defeat of Uruguay that saw the three-time champions safely into the World Cup quarter-finals.

New Zealand scored 11 tries in the contest, converting nine, as they spread kicking duties among three exponents - first-five Richie Mo'unga slotted five from seven, before he was replaced by fullback Damian McKenzie and then Beauden Barrett.

McKenzie was successful with extra points for tries by wings Will Jordan and Leicester Fainga'anuku, but mysteriously stepped aside for Barrett to convert tries by prop Tamaiti Williams and Fainga'anuku's third.  

Damian McKenzie lines up a goal against Uruguay.
Damian McKenzie lines up a goal against Uruguay. Photo credit: Getty Images

Foster has been quizzed about the change and concedes his meddling has caused some ructions within the ranks.

"I asked Damian why he gave up the kicking tee, when he kicked two really good ones," he related. "He said Aaron Smith was the water boy and he told Damian I had given instructions that he had to give up the kicking tee.

"He was really grumpy with me, but I had him on and told him I hadn't said a word to 'Nuggy', so he had a fight with Nuggy.

"At the end of the day, I wanted Beaudy to have a couple of goalkicks, just to keep his eye in. Damian's kicking really well, Richie's kicking really well, so it was just a chance fo Baz to have a couple.

"He didn't look too bad either - but nothing sinister."   

Across their four games, the All Blacks have scored 38 tries - 16 more than the next highest total by champions South Africa. Thirty of those have been converted, with Mo'unga and McKenzie slotting 14 apiece.

With five to his name, McKenzie is equal top tryscorer and leading overall scorer with 53 points, but he could easily have had a couple more five-pointers against the South Americans. He crossed for an early try that was disallowed, when referee Wayne Barnes found a neckroll cleanout by Mo'unga in the build-up.

McKenzie also loomed in support, when Barrett make break late in the game, but his teammate overcooked the kickahead and the bounce beat pursuers over the deadball line. 

Still, his two tries, two conversions, 105 running metres, four defenders beaten and a delightful, touchline-defying try assist to Jordan should see him safely into the gameday squad at the next stage of the tournament.