All Blacks sticking by under-fire Foster

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Ian Foster has reappeared from witness protection, with the New Zealand Rugby (NZR) board backing him as All Blacks coach after their series loss to Ireland.

However, Foster has pledged to bring "needed" changes to the set-up as New Zealand attempts to win back the World Cup next year.

NZR and Foster have been in hiding all week following the upset loss, the All Blacks first home series defeat since 1994.

After cancelling a scheduled media conference last Sunday, even the team's social media accounts were left unattended for a week as the All Blacks licked their wounds.

The All Black-out ended on Friday when Foster fronted media to confirm he would continue, after what he said was a week of "robust conversations".

"I'm the All Black head coach and as the All Black head coach I've had a busy week," Foster said.

"From those conversations, I'm proud of the accountability levels that I've heard from the players about their part and from my management team's part.

"We have an utter commitment and clear plan about how we are going to move forward."

Respected coach Joe Schmidt is joining the All Blacks set-up for their next Tests, with Foster saying he was "working behind the scenes" on other changes to be announced later.

Fans have been baying for blood in the wake of the loss with many suggesting Foster or captain Sam Cane should lose their jobs.

Foster, a long-term assistant under World Cup-winner Steve Hansen, insisted he was the right man to continue through to the World Cup.

"There's no doubt I'm under pressure. But I'm always under pressure and I've always felt that pressure," he said.

"Let me tell you who I am. I'm strong. I'm resilient. I believe I've proven that. I have a good feel with the players. I'm strategic and I'm also accountable.

"I love the passion of our fans and I love the opinions.

"Does (criticism) hurt? Yes it does.

"I take (criticism) on board. I promise you I understand that.

"We'd love you to be proud of us and we want to make sure we do everything we can to do that."

Foster said Cane had played a key role in talks through the week, and would continue as captain as "I believe in him as a person and a leader".

In a NZ Herald poll of 2700 fans, 80 per cent wanted Cane stripped of the captaincy, with Sam Whitelock or Ardie Savea, the team's best performer against Ireland, given the honour.

The team's next assignment is two tough-as-nails away matches against the Springboks, the reigning world champions.

Before travelling to South Africa, the All Blacks will hold a two-day camp in Wellington.

In a twist, later this year Foster will come up against the man most Kiwis want to take over his job, Crusaders coach Scott "Razor" Robertson in November.

The six-time reigning Super Rugby winning coach has been named as co-coach for Barbarian FC, who will host an All Blacks representative side in London later this year.

"Rugby throws you great opportunities and coaching the Baabaas has to be one of the best there is. I am proud to help the incredible club and add to its history," Robertson said in a statement.

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