Cape Town - Finishing their 2018 season with a strong performance is the
All Blacks' aim going into their final game of the year, against Italy on
That was the word from All Blacks assistant coach Ian
Foster, who said there was disappointment with the weekend's defeat to Ireland
and especially the way the side played but they wanted to play well in Rome and
continue the growth in their game.
They wanted to bank some positives from that and to spend
the summer confident in the path they had chosen as they build towards the
Rugby World Cup next year.
Foster said they wouldn't be restricted to one game-plan at
the World Cup, they needed to have a number of options to play whoever they
were playing against because at a World Cup playing different teams with very
different styles meant the All Blacks had to be able to do two or three things
"We're pretty confident with a large part of what we
offer and we're trying to explore some other areas," he said.
"Clearly Ireland showed us up a little bit so we've got
a bit of work to do against that type of team."
The Tests against England and Ireland had been huge for the
"They've been two really talked about games and we've
loved them, they've been awesome for us," added Foster.
"You go into the Rugby Championship and they're equally
as big games for us, but here we haven't played those two teams for a while and
whilst you prepare players for what's coming, it's another thing to get in the
middle of the park and actually to feel it come then.
"We saw some pictures coming at us that we probably
expected but you've still got to expect players to execute under that sort of
pressure so we learnt some things and the players learnt some things."
Foster said Rome was a beautiful place to be but the
priority for the All Blacks was to prepare for a top quality performance
regardless of where they were. There were a lot of distractions with the
history of the city but the side were aware they had a pretty important Test
match at the end of the week.
"It's a different feel to the last two weeks, there's
no doubt about that but come Saturday we're going to have to be ready for an
Italian team that is going to really back themselves to have a good crack at
us," he said.
"We've got a lot to learn, we need to fix a few things
so it's a pretty important week for us."
Italy had been extremely competitive against Australia and
had done some things that hadn't seen before in the Six Nations and clearly the
team management were working on a number of things as well.
"There'll be a little of the unexpected I think and
that's not a bad thing for us to have to prepare for," said Foster.
Italy had shown a desire to exploit good attacking
opportunities and while they hadn't all come to fruition the intention was
obvious. But Italy had also made a marked improvement in the short time from
the Chicago Test against Ireland to last week's game with Australia and Foster
said the All Blacks were expecting a similar shift from the Azzurri on
Being the last week of the rugby year for the side, Foster
said training was not going at 100 miles per hour, rather it was focused on
achieving clarity in the areas of their game they wanted to keep growing.
"We're trying to make sure we grow as many options as we
can both in players but also in the tactical side going into next year and so
that's been our focus. It takes a bit of time to get some of those little
things right but the expectations are pretty high that we learn quickly,"
Taken over the whole year, Foster said the management were
happy with large areas of the team's game.
"So what we're doing is looking at different options
against different types of defence in different teams and this is the beauty of
now; we've got real Test matches where if we don't get them right we get hurt
so we get tested under a lot of pressure and we'll see where we're at," he
"But we'll be changing our game right through a World
Cup, that's what always happens. We did it last time. You're always trying to
add little bits and pieces to what you're doing but the key is to get the key
components of it really clear."