Foster steps up

Sports | 12 Dec 2019

Ian Foster pledged to restore the All Blacks' aura of invincibility as the former assistant coach was promoted to the top job, tasked with rebuilding the three-time world champions after a disappointing World Cup.

New Zealand Rugby opted for continuity in naming the 54-year-old Foster, who was the preferred candidate of departing coach Steve Hansen, under whom he worked for eight years.

He beat main rival Scott Robertson to the job, despite the Crusaders mentor winning three straight Super Rugby titles, with New Zealand chiefs saying Foster offered "fresh energy".

"He brings world-class international experience to the role, an incredibly strong coaching team ... he'll do an outstanding job," chairman Brent Impey said.

Foster, who has signed a two-year contract - which stops short of the 2023 World Cup in France - said he was humbled to take over one of the most coveted roles in rugby.

He said he was pleased to step into the shoes of the "big fella" Hansen and wanted to build on his legacy of a success rate approaching 90 percent.

"Obviously we need to grow, we need to tweak," he said, mindful of the All Blacks' semi-final exit in Japan.

"I'm extremely passionate about adding a new touch, to really grow and get some mana back on the field, which we felt we've lost a little bit," Foster added, using the Maori word for aura.

Despite working under Hansen during a period of outstanding All Blacks success, including winning the 2015 World Cup, Foster is a controversial choice for some Kiwi rugby fans.

Critics point to an uninspiring eight-year spell in charge of the Waikato Chiefs.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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