New Zealand head coach Ian Foster dismisses favouritism tag against Argentina

By Sports Desk October 19, 2023

Head coach Ian Foster has warned New Zealand the past counts for nothing as they head into their World Cup semi-final against Argentina as overwhelming favourites.

The three-time champions have lost just two of 36 matches against Los Pumas and are widely expected to prevail again in Friday’s crunch clash at the Stade de France in Paris.

“There are two teams in the semi-final – anyone can win,” said the All Blacks boss. “That’s the first mindset both teams have.

“We are massively respectful of Argentina. We know that they have had a great tournament.

“We don’t live in the past in terms of results. Rugby World Cup tournaments are really about the present. It’s about the best team on the night.

“If you go into a World Cup semi-final with any expectation that the past is going to happen again, you have got problems.”

Foster has made two changes to his side following the hard-fought 28-24 quarter-final win over Ireland, with Samuel Whitelock coming into the second row and Mark Telea starting on the left wing.

Foster said: “We’ve been really impressed with Argentina. We’re playing a team that we know scrap and fight for every little bit of possession. We are going to have to be at our best.”

Argentina overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Wales last weekend and reach the semi-finals for a third time.

Coach Michael Cheika has recalled Gonzalo Bertranou at scrum-half in his one change to the line-up.

“The history is not in our favour, but it is up to us to change that,” said Cheika, who oversaw a famous win over the All Blacks in Christchurch last year.

“We have a chance to on Friday and we will be ready. When we arrive on the field we will do what we do best.”

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