New Zealand coach Ian Foster believes his side’s record 35-7 loss against South Africa on Friday can help his players by reducing expectations that the All Blacks will lift a record fourth Rugby World Cup in France in October.
The Twickenham mauling was the All Blacks’ heaviest ever defeat as well as their first loss of the year, and comes two weeks before Foster’s side begin their World Cup campaign against hosts France on Sept. 8.
New Zealand had gone into the game having won all four of their previous matches in 2023 and successfully defended their Rugby Championship title, increasing expectations that Foster’s team could lift the trophy at the Stade de France on Oct. 28.
But after the loss, the All Blacks’ coach was left hoping his team would now be able to finalise their preparations without the pressure of being tournament favourites.
“We know the circumstances we’re in and the goal we’re looking for,” he told reporters.
“You can’t deny it wasn’t a good performance from us. We’ve got a couple of weeks to get that right but I fully believe we can.
“That performance is going to take a lot of heat off us. No one is going to rate us now which is quite nice. We’ll just go and prepare quietly and get stuck in.”
New Zealand will travel to Germany to complete their World Cup preparations, with hooker Dane Coles calling on his team mates to learn the lessons of the defeat during their final training camp.
“We got a punch but we just have to get up and go again and it starts tomorrow when we wake up and things will start falling into place, but the important thing is that you don’t shy away from it,” he said.
“You feel like something really bad has happened, which it has but the first thing is to digest it all and take the lessons and create a bit of ownership over the next two weeks.
“You just have to be really hard on yourself and the team and then we will come up with some solutions and that will be the driver for the team.”