Wellington: Ian Foster pledged to restore the All Blacks’ aura of invincibility on Wednesday as the former assistant coach was promoted to the top job, tasked with rebuilding the three-time world champions after a disappointing World Cup.
New Zealand Rugby opted for continuity in naming Foster, who was the preferred candidate of illustrious departing coach Steve Hansen, under whom he worked for eight years.
He beat main rival Scott Robertson to the job, despite the Crusaders mentor winning three straight Super Rugby titles, with NZR saying the 54-year-old offered “fresh energy”.
“He brings world-class international experience to the role, an incredibly strong coaching team, and we think he’ll do an outstanding job,” chairman Brent Impey said in a statement.
Foster, who has signed a two-year contract — which stops short of the 2023 World Cup in France — said he was humbled to take over one of the most coveted roles in rugby.
He said he was pleased to step into the shoes of the “big fella” Hansen and wanted to build on his legacy of a success rate approaching 90 per cent.
“Obviously we need to grow, we need to tweak, we didn’t get what we wanted in the last World Cup, losing that semi-final,” he said, referring to the 19-7 defeat by Eddie Jones’ England in Japan.
“I’m extremely passionate about adding a new touch, to really grow and get some mana back on the field, which we felt we’ve lost a little bit,” Foster added, using the Maori word for aura.