“I feel truly privileged and honoured to be given this opportunity and I can’t wait to lead the team into the next chapter of what is a remarkable legacy,” Ian Foster said, the New All Blacks coach, appointed today on a two year contract. “I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved in the All Blacks over the last eight years and I’m excited and energised by a new coaching team who will join me.”
Foster is obviously an excellent coach, an integral part of all the All Blacks have achieved in the last few years, and seems a good man. Perhaps too much so, though. The All Blacks have pursued an insular appointment strategy since Graham Henry, but Steve Hansen didn’t feel like this, Hansen didn’t feel quite so much like an inside job, quite as much a man of the brand.
He felt like his own man. This appointment, then, needs Foster to be brave, and it needs him to stamp his authority on proceedings quickly. Yet, if that was what needed with this All Blacks squad (clue: it is) then surely New Zealand should have looked now further than Christchurch’s own – Razor.
One cannot quite escape the feeling that this appointment is a little safe, a little too self-congratulatory and a little too ‘one our own.’ Does Foster have the authority and ability too succeed? I guess we will see, and if the All Backs head hunchos think so, then I also guess it is a fair bet he does.
Scott Robertson was the other man on the two man shortlist, and his popularity within the New Zealand public, and the rugby community particularly, speaks to a man of incredibly talent and character. The things Robertson has done with the Crusaders, turning them into an essentially unbeatable win machine, with electric backs and a dominant pack (they haven’t conceded a try from a lineout drive in three years), have been incredible.
New Zealand’s new CEO, Mark Robinson, was quick to recognise this impressive track record, and suggest, rightly, that it was not an easy decision to overlook Robertson.
“As someone who knows ‘Razor’ well as a former teammate, he was a very impressive candidate and these decisions are never easy. We know Razor is an outstanding coach and I have no doubt he’ll have a big future in our game at international level.”
As a non-New Zealander, I’d like to think the All Blacks have got this one wrong. Indeed, I think they might have. They tend not too, though, and so anticipate success under Foster, a man who will be chomping at the bit to prove doubters such as myself wrong.
Written by Joe Ronan.