NZ Rugby’s next move on Ian Foster to come next week but Scott Robertson is no certainty – Michmutters

NZ Rugby’s next move on Ian Foster to come next week but Scott Robertson is no certainty

The chances of Ian Foster remaining as All Blacks coach beyond the next test in Johannesburg are diminishing, with New Zealand Rugby likely to make its intentions known next week.

It is understood chief executive Mark Robinson will remain in South Africa this week before returning to Aotearoa, but with the assessment on Foster an ongoing process rather than a definitive post-South Africa review, the All Blacks’ five losses from their past six tests weigh heavily on Foster’s prospects.

However, stuff understands any potential appointment of Scott Robertson is far from a fait accompli, with the Crusaders still entertaining a number of scenarios for 2023 – including one in which Robertson is their head coach.

Ian Foster could be in his last week as All Blacks coach.

Ella Bates-Hermans./Stuff

Ian Foster could be in his last week as All Blacks coach.

While Robertson’s strong desire to coach the All Blacks is well known, it is thought that there are circumstances under which he would not take the job.

Robertson, who recently spoke of his desire to win at least one Rugby World Cup, is likely to have clear ideas about what the All Blacks need to be true contenders in France next year.

The All Blacks will likely have to beat either Ireland or South Africa just to get to the semi-finals next year.

Former Crusaders assistant Jason Ryan’s decision to take the forwards role at the All Blacks shows that there is an established pathway from the Crusaders to the All Blacks, but it is thought that Ryan still agonized about a decision that was far less complex than any call Robertson might have to make.

The All Blacks' recent results mean that Ian Foster's future looks bleak.

Themba Hadebe/AP

The All Blacks’ recent results mean that Ian Foster’s future looks bleak.

While Ryan’s task with the All Blacks was relatively straightforward and achievable – improve the All Blacks forwards around set-piece and contact areas – the role of All Blacks head coach is immeasurably more complicated.

Robertson has been able to maintain his remarkable success rate at the Crusaders due to, in part, the level of control he exerts in Christchurch, where he can choose his assistants and work with a management team selected by the Crusaders.

When Robertson applied for the job after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, he assembled a team including Ryan, Blues coach Leon MacDonald and Hurricanes coach Jason Holland. stuff also understands Sam Whitelock would have been his All Blacks captain.

In 2022, with the Rugby World Cup fast approaching, only one of those pieces is currently in place, and Robertson would also inherit a wider management team not of his choosing.

The situation is therefore untidier than it would have been had Robertson been given the job post-2019, or even if the All Blacks had made wholesale changes after losses to France and Ireland at the end of last year.

It is not known if NZ Rugby has spoken to Robertson about the job, although such talks would clearly be both prudent and expected.

Scott Robertson and Jason Ryan's coaching careers have been inextricably linked since 2013.

Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images

Scott Robertson and Jason Ryan’s coaching careers have been inextricably linked since 2013.

stuff can also confirm that Robinson and NZ Rugby general manager, professional rugby performance Chris Lendrum spoke to Foster after the Ireland series, with his future part of that conversation.

The details of the discussion remain unclear, but NZ Rugby had already stated after the Ireland series that the All Blacks’ performances were “not acceptable”.

That was a clear pointer to their thoughts about Foster’s reign and the 26-10 loss to the Springboks at the weekend may have firmed up their thinking.

As a result, a win in Johannesburg this weekend may not be enough to save Foster. However, whether Foster’s exit automatically leads to Robertson’s appointment remains to be seen.

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