Ian Foster on changes to All Blacks coaching staff

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster has confirmed he has the support of the dressing room after asking senior players to assess the current situation the team find themselves in and how to turn it around.

After dropping a series at home for the first time in almost three decades with their loss to Ireland earlier this month, the team announced they have parted ways with forwards coach John Plumtree and backs coach Brad Mooar on Sunday – a move Foster said "we all feel we need for this team".

Speaking on Sky Sport's The Breakdown, Foster revealed the message he gave to his players after the series against Ireland, and what that led to.

"That's one of the questions that I got them to talk about," Foster said when asked if he was confident he still had the support of the dressing room. "I'm not in the room; it was just them and with all the noise around – there's been a lot of people putting me under pressure for a long, long time so in many ways this is not new to the group. But part of my job is to go back and get an honest appraisal out of them about how I'm going and getting the belief factor.

"I've had it loud and clear from them, but I also know with that comes a massive responsibility. That's only one variable. I believe I've got the group; now I've got to deliver the plan. Part of the changes we've made are about making sure I'm not taking for granted their belief in the direction I'm heading, but I'm also listening to them and making the changes we all feel we need for this team."

Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images
Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images
Crusaders forwards coach Jason Ryan will join the team in Plumtree's place, while Foster himself will work with the backs in the short-term. Joe Schmidt will also be involved in the group, working with Foster when it comes to the side's overall strategy and attack play.

The side is set to gather in Wellington on Monday ahead of the start of the Rugby Championship and, with a little more than a year to go until the Rugby World Cup, Foster said he believed the team were not far off being in a position to be a contender for the title.

However, he admitted they needed to put their foot down and make the progress he believes they are capable of in their opportunities before then.

"We're connecting the dots. We've got to do it quicker," Foster admitted.

"There are a couple of Achilles heels in our game that we dealt with well in the Irish series but they came to bite us in that third test. We've got to sort those things out and if we can – and I have utter belief in the direction this group is going. But we have the Rugby Championship; we've got to hoe into our work, we've got to get away from feeling oppressed by all the tension that's out there and we understand that people are frustrated but at the end of the day that doesn't help us. We need clear heads, a desire to go and play, and fundamentally start doing the things we know we're good at."

Their first opportunity to do so comes when they travel to South Africa to begin their Rugby Championship campaign in a two-test tilt with the Springboks, with the first test at Mbombela Stadium on August 7, before a visit to Ellis Park the following week.

"It's not the first time we've been slow starters in July. I hate saying that, but it is reality," Foster said. "We've got to speed up the gains we want. We're a wounded All Blacks team. We've got a job to do over there and we actually want to play a game New Zealanders are proud of."

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