Rugby: Ian Foster resolute in belief All Blacks can win 2023 World Cup after retaining job

Ian Foster is resolute in his belief the All Blacks can win the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, after he was retained as the team's head coach.

Despite speculation he would become the first All Blacks coach in the professional era to lose his job, Foster has been retained at the helm, backed by his NZ Rugby bosses through next year's World Cup.

NZ Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson and chairman Stewart Mitchell have both expressed their confidence in Foster, and given him the backing to carry on, despite a run of two victories in their last seven tests - including three successive defeats.

Beauden Barrett and Ian Foster at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Beauden Barrett and Ian Foster at the 2019 Rugby World Cup. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

Based on World Rugby's test rankings at the time of the World Cup draw, the All Blacks are grouped in the same pool as hosts France, and face a likely quarter-final against either South Africa or Ireland.

All three teams have enjoyed recent success against the All Blacks during Foster's tenure, but facing the challenge of winning New Zealand's fourth Rugby World Cup, Foster is confident the All Blacks can lift the Webb Ellis Cup again in 2023.

"I think it's very strong," Foster said. "The first five tests of the year were always going to be immensely tough.

"It's not often we play five tests in a row that are basically ranked higher than us in the world, if you think about it. That's the situation we got.

"We got tested and we fell a bit short in a few areas, but what I'd like to reassure people is that we're not just sitting here justifying that, we're saying, 'What have we learned from that?'

"I feel good about the confidence that I've got from Mark and Stewart, in terms of supporting both myself and the group. We've got our leadership and senior players at a point that's probably as strong as I've seen them in recent years.

"They want to own it and that's a massive point of where we need to go, so they're pretty good foundation points."

Aaron Smith and Ian Foster.
Aaron Smith and Ian Foster. Photo credit: Image - Photosport

Foster is also grateful to players past and present for their continued support, as his role came under scrutiny.

Senior players Sam Cane and Sam Whitelock fronted an unscheduled media appearance to convey their confidence in Foster, after Ardie Savea did the same after the 35-23 win over South Africa.

The senior players are also understood to have approached Robinson in the Ellis Park dressingroom, expressing their belief in their coach - a gesture not taken lightly by Foster.

"It means a lot," he added. "We're a very tight group.

"I'll tell you who we've got the most support from in the last month - ex-All Blacks from the 2007-09 period - players that have actually been in the All Blacks when things haven't gone that well.

"It's been fantastic, the support we've had from older All Blacks, who know what it's like to go through a bit of a trough, when you're making changes and rebuilding a little bit.

"While there's been a lot of pressure, externally, it's been painted that this never happens to the All Blacks... it does happen to the All Blacks.

"We've got massive support and advice from people who've been through the same journey. That's really empowered our current group, who haven't been used to the sort of degree of adversity we've hit.

"It's felt foreign. We've all wanted to roll our sleeves up and fix it, and so we're in it together.

"Their support's been fantastic, but I think, whilst it looks like massive support for me - and I love that and feel very privileged by that - in reality, it's massive support for what we're trying to create here."

Foster and the All Blacks will now reassemble to prepare for their next assignment, facing Argentina at Christchurch to continue their Rugby Championship defence.

Join us for live updates of the All Blacks v Argentina Rugby Championship clash on August 27