All Blacks manager Ian Foster admits he has ‘no idea’ whether he will keep his job despite a 35-23 upset against world champion Springboks at Ellis Park.
The much-improved performance ended a three-game losing streak that dropped New Zealand to a world record ranking of fifth and the knives out in the rugby-mad nation.
Captain under fire 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 received a hug from Ma’a Nonu during post-match coverage, would almost certainly have lost his job had the All Blacks been beaten.
“There’s no doubt it’s been quite a stressful time. The stress has been good for me, last week I lost 1kg,” Foster joked.
“So proud of the effort, we held on tight.”
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Foster then referenced comments from last weekend when he said the 26-10 defeat at Mbombela was ‘probably the best performance of the year’.
“I know I got a little laughed at for saying that last week, but we’ve made a big change as a forward pack,” Foster said.
“We’ve been more patient and when you start believing in yourself, you become more patient.”
Jeff Wilson then asked Foster if he planned to keep his job as the team returned to New Zealand ahead of two home games against Argentina.
“I have no idea. I’m just going to go out there and enjoy tonight.”
New Zealand led by 15 points one stage before a Springbok comeback.
But the All Blacks rallied with two tries in the final six minutes to possibly save Foster.
Flanker Cane and hooker Taukei’aho scored first-half tries to silence 61,000.
South Africa responded with tries from the remarkable Lukhanyo Am and Makazole Mapimpi either side of half-time and Handre Pollard put the home side ahead 23-21 in the 68th minute, the first time that the Springboks were leading.
It was also the only time.
New Zealand launched a full-length attack, finished by David Havili, to regain the lead with just 14 men left with Beauden Barrett yellow carded.
The All Blacks added another try right at the end by lock Scott Barrett to secure a deserved victory.
“The last few weeks have been really tough, but we’ve done it in one of the toughest places to play rugby,” said man of the match Rieko Ioane.
“There are some doubts at home, but we know we have what we have in this team. I’m extremely proud of our efforts tonight.”
Cane finished the game on the sidelines as the tireless Ardie Savea took over as captain and Sam Whitelock also led superbly.
“Proud is an understatement,” Cane said.
“Adversity challenges your character and we have a lot of that. One of the hardest places to play in the world. Last month was pretty tough.
“We were much better at the breakdown tonight. Massively delighted.”
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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