Ian Foster does not care who New Zealand face in World Cup final

By Sports Desk October 20, 2023

New Zealand boss Ian Foster plans to enjoy a bowl of popcorn while watching England’s blockbuster with South Africa after his side eased into the Rugby World Cup final by dispatching Argentina.

Foster can put his feet up for Saturday evening’s colossal semi-final clash between Steve Borthwick’s men and the Springboks thanks to a crushing 44-6 success over Los Pumas in Paris.

The 58-year-old expects an “interesting contrast of styles” in the other last-four fixture and is not bothered who the All Blacks face in next week’s showpiece match at Stade de France.

New Zealand barely broke sweat in booking an unprecedented fifth World Cup final appearance and now have the luxury of an extra day’s rest as they await the identity of their ultimate opponents.

“I’ll be watching it,” said Foster. “I’ll probably have some popcorn and sit there and watch it and I don’t care who wins. We’re very much in a focus-about-ourselves stage.

“One thing that extra day does give us, it gives us a bit of a chance to have a break mentally and not to spend too much juice worrying about if it’s them, if it’s them.

“They’re both good teams. South Africa have been playing some brilliant rugby the last few weeks and are clearly on top of their game.

“But we’ve also seen an English side that just build away quietly and are probably starting to understand how they want to play and they’re starting to get really good at how they want to play and believe in that.

“It will be an interesting contrast of styles.”

All Blacks wing Will Jordan ran in a hat-trick during the seven-try rout in Saint-Denis to lift him above France’s Damian Penaud as the World Cup’s leading try scorer on eight.

The treble also saw the 25-year-old equal the record for tries in a single tournament, putting him alongside Jonah Lomu, Bryan Habana and Julian Savea.

Foster was able to empty his bench long before the full-time whistle due to the emphatic scoreline and opted to keep the sin-binned Scott Barrett on the sidelines for around five minutes longer than required as the Kiwis finished with 14 men.

Asked if those situations could prove advantageous moving towards the final, Foster said: “I don’t think they’ll make a massive difference.

“Finals are finals and whoever we play, they’ll be a hundred per cent.

“It was an opportunity for us to make sure that we looked after our resources as best we could.

“We really didn’t see a need of putting Scooter (Barrett) back on, only from the perspective that if he had another little yellow card incident in the next five minutes, it might have made it a little bit niggly.”

Argentina were a shadow of the side who stunned Wales in the last eight.

A pair of first-half Emiliano Boffelli penalties was all they could muster.

Shannon Frizell’s double, plus further tries from Jordie Barrett and Aaron Smith, added to their punishment.

Los Pumas head coach Michael Cheika felt New Zealand ruthlessly exploited each of his team’s errors and was unhappy with some of the refereeing, particularly during first-half rucks.

The Australian promised his players will respond to a difficult outing in the bronze-medal match.

“It’s not a sad moment; it’s a moment when I’m actually proud of my team,” he said.

“It’s not an easy path that we’ve been on. We’ve invested ourselves a lot in this. But we’ve lost on details. I’m sad for them.

“It’s hard but its a good thing it’s hard. On Friday, we will be there, have no doubt. We will not leave this way.

“We want to finish third. We’ve got things we want to show in the bronze final. Right now, we’re hurting.”

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