All Blacks v South Africa: Ian Foster fires back at Springboks criticism ahead of Rugby Championship finale

All Blacks coach Ian Foster hit back at South Africa's detractors, following criticism of the Springboks' style of play throughout this year's Rugby Championship.

From their eight tests played so far in 2021, the Springboks have won four and lost four, covering both the Rugby Championship and a series win over the British & Irish Lions.

After winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup under Rassie Erasmus, before not featuring at all in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa have looked a shadow of the side that lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.

The South Africans' style has come under fire throughout this year, with coach Jacques Nienaber's side opting to play a defence-oriented game, revolving around kicking while in possession to put teams under pressure.

And while it worked against the Lions, the Springboks' last three matches have all ended in defeat - twice to Australia and once to the All Blacks.

Following last Saturday's test in Townsville, South African coach Nienaber fielded questions about his side's style, coming after criticism from 2003 World Cup winner Sir Clive Woodward.

Speaking after naming his All Blacks side for the second test between the two sides in as many weeks, coach Foster sided with his opposite, urging respect towards South Africa's style.

All Blacks v South Africa: Ian Foster fires back at Springboks criticism ahead of Rugby Championship finale

"All I'll say is that you fully respect people's views, that's why people say what they say," Foster says.

"People have their own preferences, but they don't have to play them. We just focus on the team we have to play, and how they're going to play.

"I think it's gone over the top a little bit, because I think [we've] got to be careful border on disrespect for a team.

"They've chosen a style to play, and it's been very effective for them. It was very effective back in 2009 when they hailed bombs on the All Blacks and we lost three or four in a row to them. So it's not like this is new.

"The last thing I think we should be doing, or the last thing we will do as an All Black team is pass judgement on that, because last week we saw how effective and good they are at it.

"We've just got to be as good at our game."

The All Blacks face South Africa on the Gold Coast on Saturday, with victory meaning Foster's side has completed the Rugby Championship unbeaten.

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