By Issy Ronald, CNN
Head coach Ian Foster will lead the All Blacks at least through until next year’s World Cup, New Zealand Rugby announced at a press conference on Wednesday after a string of poor performances left his future in jeopardy.
“It’s a privilege to be in this job, it’s never something you take for granted,” Foster said as he thanked the board for its “strong support.”
In recent weeks, the All Blacks lost a home series for the first time in nearly three decades after falling to Ireland, sunk to a historic low of fifth in the world rankings and suffered three consecutive defeats, leaving Foster’s position in charge of rugby’s dominant team increasingly under threat.
“It’s clearly been a difficult time,” Foster said. “The start of this campaign, we didn’t get what we wanted to get against Ireland and that created performance stress. That’s part of my job and I expect to be grilled in that space.”
Such has been the team’s historic dominance that the recent three-match losing streak is the squad’s first since 1998, unleashing a wave of media criticism in New Zealand.
A dramatic win on Saturday against world champion South Africa somewhat stemmed the tide and seems to have granted Foster a reprieve.
“Some of the steps we’ve seen in recent weeks give us a huge amount of confidence going forward,” New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson said.
“We’ve had some really fantastic conversations with [Foster]… We are backing [the staff] through to the World Cup.”
To support Foster, the board announced that former Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt would be promoted from his role as an independent selector to a full time assistant coach.
“Joe Schmidt has been on my radar, probably for a couple of years,” Foster said, adding that the two coaches enjoyed a “great relationship.”
The All Blacks next take to the field on August 27 when they will play Argentina in the Rugby Championship.
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