All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster says last year’s loss to Australia in the third and final Bledisloe Cup match still hurts.
Ending a 26-month winless stretch against their New Zealand rivals, the Wallabies were jubilant after their 23-18 win in Brisbane, despite the match being a dead rubber.
Asked if the match was motivating the All Blacks ahead of next weekend’s Rugby Championship opener in Sydney, Foster admitted they certainly hadn’t forgotten about it.
“I tried to move on, but it is still there,” Foster said on Thursday, ahead of Friday night’s Game of Three Halves in Christchurch.
“It hurt because, largely, from our side of the coin it was a really poor test and we didn’t have that edge we needed to have and they did.
“We saw that after the game, how much it meant to them. Which doesn’t really surprise us, but it still hurts.”
The result not only lingered for the All Blacks, it is also the reason coach Steve Hansen earlier this week labelled the Wallabies favourites for next Saturday’s clash.
Hansen’s comments raised more than a few eyebrows, while former Wallaby Striling Mortlock called the statement “a load of tripe”.
Asked about the debate, Foster said who held the favouritism meant nothing.
“Personally I think it’s irerlevant, all I know is we’ve never had an easy game in Sydney.
“We’ve had a couple games in my time [with the All Blacks] where the score has blown out ….. and we’ve also been on the back of a couple of losses, that’s all we need to focus on.
“They’re building and they’re pretty energetic about this game, and we need to be as well.”
Meanwhile, Foster said Friday’s Game of Three Halves will indeed have bearing on their team for the first match of this year’s Bledisloe Cup trilogy.
Joined on Thursday by players from the Super Rugby-winning Crusaders, the All Blacks will face Canterbury and Otago in the match.
Foster says the team for next Saturday’s clash with the Wallabies is not locked in yet.
“There is a number of guys that we need to see have a good hit out, who haven’t played for a while, that’s one box we’ve got to tick.
“And we need to see how everyone shapes up after the [Super Rugby] campaigns they’ve had, and see how everyone shapes up over the weekend really.”