No point 'sulking' for All Blacks after Springboks loss, says embattled coach Foster

By Sports Desk August 08, 2022

New Zealand coach Ian Foster says there is no point in his side "sulking" over their defeat to South Africa, as the All Blacks coach faces increased calls to stand down.

The tourists slipped to an opening defeat into the Rugby Championship against the Springboks on Saturday, with the world champions claiming at 26-10 win in Mbombela.

It means New Zealand have now gone three games without victory, following consecutive losses to Ireland on home turf, producing their longest barren streak since 1998.

With five losses in their last six Tests now, expectations are that Foster's position may become untenable with another loss in Johannesburg this weekend, with the New Zealand Herald calling for him to go in a front page editorial on Monday.

But for now, the coach say his team must focus on the next step rather than their mistakes.

Foster said: "We know there’s a lot of pressure on, and we’re feeling that. But our job is to look at our performance and how we can grow it.

"I understand the frustration, but that doesn’t change what we have to do here.

"There’s no point sulking about it for too long. We’ve just got to get into Ellis Park and keep growing our game and still believe."

Foster also stated his intent to address South Africa's mid-air challenges following a scrappy first encounter, with Beauden and Jordie Barrett both injury doubts following tackles by Kurt-Lee Arendse.

"It*s becoming a free-for-all for jumpers just to be able to jump and stick a hand out and say they’re competing. It needs to be addressed," he said.

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  • Javan Sebastian: Spell in the ‘normal’ world gave me impetus to succeed in rugby Javan Sebastian: Spell in the ‘normal’ world gave me impetus to succeed in rugby

    Javan Sebastian admitted to being “a bit overwhelmed” about the prospect of making his first start for Scotland at a World Cup after bouncing back from a “dark” spell working as a butcher when he feared his professional rugby career was over.

    After failing to earn a contract in 2016, the Wales-born prop had to drop into the semi-pro ranks and got a job as a butcher in Carmarthen to make ends meet.

    At that point, resigned to the likelihood that it was not to be for him at the top end of the game, Sebastian could never have envisaged he go on to represent Scotland – the nation of his father’s birth – at a World Cup in France.

    “I was a bit overwhelmed when Gregor told me I was going to be starting tight-head,” said Sebastian, reflecting on the fact that – after six appearances for Scotland as a substitute – he will make his first start in Saturday’s World Cup Pool B match against Romania in Lille.

    “I was quite surprised to even be selected in the World Cup squad. It’s a massive achievement to be selected in any squad, so to get a starting place is pretty surreal.”

    After struggling to break through at Scarlets and then having an unfulfilling loan stint at Glasgow, Sebastian dropped out of the professional game aged 22 to become a butcher while playing part-time for Carmarthen Quins.

    “That was a dark time,” he recalled, speaking from the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille on the eve of his World Cup bow. “It was after I left Glasgow, having been there for a year. I went back home (to Wales) to have my first-born.

    “I took a year out of rugby and didn’t really end up having a job so I applied to be a butcher and play semi-pro.

    “I worked in the butcher’s for about two months. I couldn’t hack it any longer than that. It was dark, not a nice place.

    “I thought my professional rugby career was pretty much over, so I took a year out to reflect and get back to normal life.

    “It made me open my eyes to what I could potentially do. Being a butcher or any other normal job is quite tough. I’m not saying that being a rugby player isn’t tough, but the real world is scary.

    “I discovered normal life wasn’t for me, so I thought I would try to play rugby again.”

    Sebastian was cajoled in that regard by his coaches at Carmarthen who felt he was too good to be playing at such a lowly level and helped him earn a second chance with Scarlets in 2017. He became a prominent figure at the Parc y Scarlets until joining Edinburgh this summer on a two-year deal.

    “Playing semi-pro in Wales was pretty dark,” he said. “You go to places like Neath, Cross Keys away, when it’s raining and it’s seven o’clock at night and the pitches are deep in mud. It’s not a nice place to play.

    “The coaches at the time were Craig Evans and Richard Kelly. They really pushed me on to try and go for more than what I was doing at that time. Richard was also a coach at Scarlets, so he really pushed me to get back in.”

    Sebastian – effectively Scotland’s third-choice tighthead – feels his move to Edinburgh can help him progress further.

    “It’s just another step on the journey where I want to project on to the next level,” he said.

    “Edinburgh have a strong pack, so trying to play some expansive rugby within that pack will benefit me.”

    Scotland srum coach Pieter de Villiers was full of praise for the way Sebastian has forced his way into contention for his first international start in a match Scotland must win with a bonus point to keep alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-final.

    “It is a well-deserved start,” he said. “He’s had a great preparation period and is very well respected within the group.

    “In terms of the set-piece, I think he’s one of the best scrummaging tightheads out there. You can ask any front-row player, they’ll always back Javan to pack down in a scrum.

    “Playing at Edinburgh next season, it’ll be good for him to develop alongside his international team-mates. It’ll be good to have him closer to home and to see him grow.”

  • The talking points ahead of Scotland’s must-win World Cup clash with Romania The talking points ahead of Scotland’s must-win World Cup clash with Romania

    Scotland play their third match of the World Cup against Pool B minnows Romania in Lille on Saturday night.

    Here, the PA news agency assesses some of the key talking points ahead of a must-win fixture for Gregor Townsend’s side.

    Scots need big win ahead of Ireland

    Nothing less than a comprehensive victory will do for Scotland as they bid to stay on course for qualification for the quarter-finals ahead of what is shaping up to be a critical showdown with Ireland in Paris next Saturday. The Scots need to win with four tries this weekend to get the bonus point they require, which is something they should do with little trouble given that they touched down seven times against Tonga last weekend, while Ireland and South Africa put 82 and 76 points respectively on the Romanians. In addition to getting the bonus point, a swashbuckling attacking performance and a heavy scoreline would be desirable to ensure a degree of buoyancy is maintained ahead of the Ireland match.

    Big guns preserved

    Head coach Gregor Townsend clearly has a big eye on next weekend given his team selection, with 13 changes to the XV that started last Sunday’s win over Tonga. Darcy Graham and Grant Gilchrist – who captains the side in the absence of the injured Jamie Ritchie – are the only two players in the line-up who started the opening game against South Africa, when arguably the first-choice XV was sent out. Big-hitters like Finn Russell, Duhan van der Merwe, Sione Tuipulotu, Zander Fagerson and Jack Dempsey have been left out of the 23, while regular starters Blair Kinghorn, Huw Jones and Rory Darge will provide a reassuring presence on the bench.

    Opportunities for fringe men

    The starting quartet of Hamish Watson, Luke Crosbie, Javan Sebastian and Ben Healy are getting their first action of this World Cup after being idle for the first two games, while six others – Ali Price, Cam Redpath, Ollie Smith, Jamie Bhatti, Ewan Ashman and Sam Skinner – have been handed their first start of the tournament. With Scotland boasting a relatively established starting XV these days, this is an opportunity for several players on the periphery of the squad to showcase their abilities and try to push themselves further up the pecking order, possibly even playing their way into contention for the Ireland game.

    The Vern Cotter factor

    A familiar face will be attempting to put a spanner in the works for Scotland this weekend. Vern Cotter, the head coach who led the Scots to within a whisker of the World Cup semi-finals in 2015, is working as a consultant for the Romanian team at the current tournament. The 61-year-old New Zealander is sure to have plenty of insight on the Scots, having had three years in charge before being succeeded by Townsend in 2017. “I have been overseeing their preparation since this year’s Rugby Europe Championship and I will be involved as an advisor for the RWC, hoping the Oaks will evolve, play some good games and exceed everyone’s expectations,” said Cotter last month.

    Scotland get first taste of northern France

    After spending the past month sizzling in the heat of the south of France at their base in Nice and in Marseille – where they played their opener against South Africa – the Scots have encountered grey skies and a much cooler temperature since flying to the other end of France for this weekend’s match in Lille. The players have relished the change of scenery and a reprieve from the heat that ensures they will kick off on Saturday night in conditions far more like what they are accustomed to at home in Scotland.

  • Maro Itoje keen to reach ‘another level’ after England secure quarter-final spot Maro Itoje keen to reach ‘another level’ after England secure quarter-final spot

    Maro Itoje has emerged from a difficult period of his career confident that he can reach new levels of performance as England progress deeper into the World Cup.

    Itoje revealed during this year’s Six Nations that he had been suffering from an underlying health issue – the details of which are undisclosed – that had impacted his conditioning.

    It explained the below-par displays being delivered by one of England’s world-class operators as, although he held his own on the field, he was not the dominant force that had taken the game by storm.

    But having benefited from the fitness work completed during squad’s World Cup training camp, there was evidence in his starts against Argentina and Japan that the 28-year-old second row is on the rise once more.

    “I don’t think one is ever fully happy, no-one is every fully content with anything, but it’s definitely better being able to express myself physically,” Itoje said.

    “During that period where it was a little bit more difficult to do that, it was a little bit more challenging.

    “I had issues going on in the background which affected my ability to exercise and perform.

    “And once we were able to get all those things aligned, I was able to naturally have a response from the training that I was doing.

    “Having a beneficial response from the rigorous activity has allowed me to perform and play better.

    “There’s no top player across any sport – whether that’s rugby, football, basketball, whatever – who has a plain sailing career, or a career that goes exactly how they wanted it.

    “You can speak of any of the greats and they will probably say ‘I wish I didn’t do that’, or ‘I wish I’d done that differently’.

    “I guess that whole period for me was my version of that, where I had something structurally wrong and I didn’t know it was structurally wrong until I was quite deep into it.

    “To be able to persevere through that period and finally get a fix for that was great. But I personally still feel there’s a lot more to go and a lot more that I can contribute in a positive manner for this team and in this tournament.”

    England have reached the quarter-finals as Pool D winners with a match to spare after Japan toppled Samoa on Thursday night.


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    It continues encouraging progress through the World Cup that began with victory over Argentina despite all but three minutes of the match being played with 14 men because of Tom Curry’s red card.

    Itoje excelled amid England’s act of defiance against their closest group rivals, who were routed 27-10 in Marseille, but the two-time Lions tourist insists there is more to come.

    “It’s funny because people after the game thought I’d played well. I thought I played alright, I don’t think I played as well as what people were telling me,” he said.

    “And that’s probably because I know where I can be if I’m properly firing on all cylinders.

    “The games have been a step in the right direction for me but I’m not satisfied with that, I think there’s another level for me to get to.

    “So hopefully Samoa and by God’s grace the rest of the tournament will be an opportunity for me to express that.”

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