Assistant coach Ian Foster insists 2018 test season a success for All Blacks

Assistant coach Ian Foster insists the All Blacks 2018 test campaign has been a success and that the side is progressing well leading into next year's World Cup.

Despite a pair of losses, Foster says he and his coaching cohorts are confident they're tracking in the right direction as Japan draws closer.

"We've been around long enough to know that some things you just have to keep chipping away at," said Foster.

"Overall - when you look through the flow of the year – we've actually been pretty happy with where we've got to.

"We're clearly disappointed with our last performance but that doesn't the change the fact that there are parts of our game that are going really, really well, and there were some that we obviously didn’t nail.

"We take that on the chin go away and learn and figure out how to do that a little bit better."

Much has been made of the new system Foster and co have been implementing, and while details are hazy on exactly what that system involves – the growing pains, particularly on attack, have been clear.

The side has scored just one try over their past 160 minutes of rugby, but Foster says it's simply the nature of change.

"Coaching groups, we're always impatient and we want to get there straight away, but we've been around long enough to know we've just got to keep chipping away at.

"It's not easy when you're coming to change a few things and to grow a game. Often you've often you've got to take a step backwards to take two steps forward. 

"This is the beauty of now, we've got real test matches where if we don't get them right we get hurt, so we get tested under a lot of pressure.

"We will be changing our game right through the World Cup, that's what always happens. We did it last time. You're always trying to add little bits and pieces of what you're doing but the key is to get the key components really clear.

"We're all trying to just dig deeper into smaller areas to make sure we are really clear as a team, and we're getting there."

Foster believes it's critical not to be deterred by the disappointment of losing, and they must remain committed to their cause.

"There's always a lot of panic around us when we drop a game, and that's to be expected. But it's happened before, it will happen again.

"That's just the passion of our supporters, isn't it? We've got no issues with high expectations and disappointment when we don't play at the levels we want. But it doesn't change what we're doing."

As for the challenge from Italy on Sunday (NZ time), Foster's expecting to be keenly tested against a side he believes is rapidly improving under new coach Conor O'Shea.

"They were extremely competitive in that game against australia and played some really good rugby. they're foing a few different things than perhaps what we've seen them do in Six Nations.

"There will be a little bit of the unexpected, and that's not a bad thing for us to have to prepare for.

"We're going have to be ready to go against a team that's going to really back themselves to have a good crack at us."


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