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Johannesburg (AFP) – The New Zealand Herald has called beleaguered All Blacks manager Ian Foster “a decent man who is overwhelmed by brutal enterprise” as he prepares for a test that could seal his fate.
New Zealand take on South Africa in the Rugby Championship in Johannesburg on Saturday, and a sixth defeat in seven Tests will almost certainly spell the end for friendly but beleaguered ‘Fossie’.
The ferocity of the Springboks last weekend secured a 26-10 first-round triumph over the All Blacks in Mbombela, pushing Foster ever closer to the exit door.
That beating – the biggest in South Africa since 1928 – left not only Foster but also captain and flanker Sam Cane on the receiving end of a deluge of convictions.
After nearly a decade of assisting head coach Steve Hansen, the 57-year-old former fly-half took charge of the All Blacks following a semi-final loss to England in the Champions League. rugby world 2019.
Helped hugely by stars like Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, Hansen lost just 10 of 107 Tests, and Foster couldn’t match that record.
In charge of the triple world champions for 26 internationals, he lost nine, including against Ireland (three times), France and South Africa from last November.
Many critics believe that time is up for Foster, and regardless of the outcome at Ellis Park, he must resign or be fired.
“I don’t think Foster can save his job now. The noise is too loud. He’s really on borrowed time,” said Stuff columnist Mark Reason, who called the All Blacks “a laughing stock”.
New Zealand rugby writer Marc Hinton did not spare Foster ahead of the showdown at Ellis Park, where South Africa have won nine and lost five of the previous 14 Tests between the countries.
“The All Blacks are not just losing, they look confused. The fluidity and flair, which have long been a hallmark of their game, seem to have abandoned them.
“Hurry and Hurry”
“They are pressured and pressured and, frankly, executed by parties that are clearly superior to them.”
Long the top-ranked rugby nation, the All Blacks’ dismal run saw them drop to fifth behind Ireland, France, South Africa and England.
New Zealand Herald senior sportswriter Chris Rattue called Foster “among the worst All Blacks coaches in history”.
In fact, Foster has the worst record among New Zealand managers since the dawn of professional rugby in 1996.
Amid the media frenzy, Foster is thinking only of how he can prevent South Africa from winning back-to-back home Tests against his team for the first time since 2009.
“There is pressure, and we feel it, but our job is to look at last week’s performance and improve on it,” he said.
“I understand the frustration, but that doesn’t change what we have to do. There’s no point sulking. We have to go to Ellis Park believing we’re going to win.”
Foster made four changes to Mbombela’s starting line-up, hoping new fly-half Richie Mo’unga can choose smarter options than now-substitute Beauden Barrett did last weekend.
Props Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax are promoted to try and counter the power of the Springbok pack, and Mbombela striker and flanker Shannon Frizell is also high.
South Africa made five changes and showed the depth of their attacking talent by placing hooker Malcolm Marx, man of the match last Saturday, as a substitute.
He was replaced in a rotational move by Bongi Mbonambi, who picked up an injury in training, leading to a starting spot for third-choice Joseph Dweba.
Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber warned his side ahead of the rematch, telling them that “We’re going to be up against a tough challenge as the All Blacks are desperate to turn things around.”
A legitimate concern among South African fans is whether the green and gold can match Mbombela’s performance – the best since beating England in the 2019 World Cup final.
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