All Blacks v France: Coach Ian Foster refusing to panic, despite third defeat of 2021 season

All Blacks coach Ian Foster is refusing to panic, despite suffering a second straight defeat and third this year, with a 40-25 loss to France in Paris.

A week after their 29-20 loss to Ireland in Dublin, New Zealand were exposed again by a northern hemisphere side starving them of possession.

The defeat brings their 2021 season to a close, and despite retaining the Bledisloe Cup and winning the Rugby Championship, the nature of the last two losses will leave the team taking worrying questions into their off-season.

But coach Foster insists the latest defeat isn't cause for alarm just yet, crediting France for an outstanding performance.

Although the All Blacks impressed for 20 minutes to start the second half, the result certainly leaves Foster with work to do before the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

"There's no denying, the last two games were tough for us," Foster says. "We've come across two very good teams at the end of our season - and congratulations to them, there's no doubt that they played well.

"But I thought our response tonight was much stronger and we got ourselves back into some key moments that we've got to grow from.

"If we were able to apply some pressure at the end of that third quarter, I felt we could have had a different picture.”

In a COVID-affected world, the All Blacks have borne a heavy workload. Since July, they have suited up for 15 test matches - one more than the 14 tests per year from 2012-18.

During that span, New Zealand never lost more than twice - never mind twice in a row - which they have now done twice under Foster, after consecutive defeats to Australia and Argentina last year.

But after a season that's seen his team defeated three times for the first time since 2009, Foster insists they’re progressing.

"If your question is 'how do I feel about the progress?', I think if you look at this year, it is a year that some teams haven't played many test matches and the southern hemisphere teams have played a lot of test matches.

"We've played more than we've ever played. We've won 12 out of 15 - South Africa lost five tests, Australia lost about seven tests.

"I know that we get judged harshly, but if I reflect on the year, we're making progress. We've got a good brace of players that we're growing, but we're also learning some tough lessons at the end of this long season.

"Big test matches come down to big moments, and we've got to get our composure right and perhaps understand our game a little bit better.

"We'll go and regroup from that, and know there's still work to do, but we've got good options now."

The All Blacks will next take the field, when last week's tormentors, Ireland, travel to New Zealand for three tests next July.