All Blacks coach Ian Foster admits he has “no idea” whether he’ll keep his job despite a rousing 35-23 upset of the world champion Springboks at Ellis Park.
The much improved performance snapped a three game losing streak that caused New Zealand to plummet to an all-time low world ranking of fifth and the knives to come out in the rugby-mad nation.
Under-fire captain Sam Cane, Samisoni Taukei’aho, David Havili and Scott Barrett scored tries for the All Blacks in an exhilarating Test as the Kiwis retained the Freedom Cup.
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Foster, who got a hug from Ma’a Nonu during the post-match coverage, almost certainly would have lost his job if the All Blacks had been beaten.
“There’s no doubt it’s been a pretty stressful time. The stress has been good for me, last week I lost 1kg,” Foster joked.
“So proud of the effort, we hung in strong.”
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Foster then referenced last weekend’s comments when he said the 26-10 loss in Mbombela was “probably the best performance of the year.”
“I know I got a little bit mocked for saying that last week but we made a big shift as a forward pack,” Foster said.
“We were more patient and when you start to believe in yourself you get more patient.”
Jeff Wilson then asked Foster whether he expects to retain his job as the team returns to New Zealand ahead of two home games against Argentina.
“I’ve got no idea. I’ll just go and enjoy tonight.”
New Zealand led by 15 points at one stage before a Springboks comeback.
But the All Blacks rallied with two tries in the last six minutes to possibly save Foster.
Flanker Cane and hooker Taukei’aho scored tries in the first half to silence 61,000.
South Africa replied with tries by the outstanding Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi either side of halftime and Handre Pollard kicked the home team 23-21 ahead in the 68th minute, the first time the Springboks had led.
It was also the only time.
New Zealand launched a length-of-the-field attack, finished off by David Havili, to snatch the lead back while down to 14 men with Beauden Barrett’s yellow card.
The All Blacks added another try right at the end by lock Scott Barrett to secure a deserved win.
“The last few weeks have been really difficult but we got it done at one of the hardest places to play rugby in,” man of the match Rieko Ioane said.
“There’s a few doubters back home but we know have what we have in this team. I’m hugely proud of our effort tonight.”
Cane finished the match on the sidelines as the indefatigable Ardie Savea took over as captain and Sam Whitelock also led superbly.
“Proud is an understatement,” Cane said.
“Adversity challenges your character and we’ve got plenty of it. One of the toughest places to play in the world. The last month has been pretty challenging.
“We were a lot better at the breakdown tonight. Massively stoked.”
ALL BLACKS 35 (Sam Cane, Samisoni Taukei’aho, David Havili, Scott Barrett tries; Richie Mo’unga 3 conversions, 3 penalties) SPRINGBOKS 23 (Lukhanyo Am, Makazole Mapimpi tries; Handre Pollard 2 conversions, 3 penalties). excluding tax: 15-10
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