Mo'unga backs 'big Fossy' for All Blacks

·3-min read

All Blacks star Richie Mo'unga has backed under-pressure head coach Ian Foster to lead the side to next year's Rugby World Cup despite New Zealand's shock home series loss to Ireland.

The All Blacks head to South Africa for two Tests against the world champions beginning August 7 (AEDT) as they defend the southern hemisphere's Rugby Championship title.

New Zealand's response to their first home series loss in 28 years was to reshuffle assistants, and according to Mo'unga, some "really honest" conversations.

"We're looking forward to the opportunity to right a few wrongs and to be better because we know we're capable. We need to make a statement about who we are as All Blacks," the playmaker said.

Assistant coaches John Plumtree and Brad Mooar were axed this week, bringing in Crusaders forwards coach Jason Ryan, with Mo'unga saying Foster was taking on more responsibility coaching the backs.

The star Crusaders fly-half, who started on the bench for the Tests against Ireland, backed Foster "because of his coaching ability".

"Fossy is the man for the job. 100 per cent big Fossy," he said.

"I think now he'll have a more hands-on role with with the backs and with attack.

"I've had that taste early on in my All Blacks career (when Foster was an assistant) and I was able to gain so much knowledge and had 'wow' moments out in the field when he was coaching.

"It's good to see that happen again the last couple of days."

Dark clouds still hang over Foster, who has worn much of the blame for the Ireland series defeat, and New Zealand Rugby (NZR) continues to shield the coach from media.

NZR cancelled Foster's post-series press conference, choosing to laying low and failing to post on the All Blacks social media channels.

When Foster did emerge last Friday, NZR asked journalists not to livestream his press conference.

On Tuesday in Wellington, a staffer called time on Foster's press conference after just two minutes and 45 seconds, saying a bus was running late.

In the short time spent with the press pack at Sky Stadium, Foster said bad results wouldn't prompt him to resign.

"It's not something that I think about. I think about just doing the best I can in my role," he said.

Foster said the conversations to let Plumtree and Mooar go were "horrible".

"There's no other word for that. Good men. But my role is to do what I think is best for the team," he said.

"I don't think it's a massive judgment on them at all as coaches. It's just that we kind of need to make a bit of a change."

Ryan is an unlikely choice given his role as long-time assistant to Crusaders boss Scott Robertson - the man most Kiwis would like to see coaching the All Blacks.

Ryan said it was a tough decision to leave Robertson.

"We worked together 12 years. I'm a loyal person ... (but) it's a chance to coach my country and it's a dream to be an All Blacks forwards coach," he said.

Ryan was clear in where he wanted to see improvement.

"We've got to stop mauls that's for sure," he said.

Meanwhile, uncapped Canterbury Crusaders prop Fletcher Newell has been drafted into NZ squad for the tour of South Africa to replace the injured Ofa Tu'ungafasi.

Tu'ungafasi suffered a neck injury in the defeat to Ireland at Wellington and will remain at home along with injured teammates Brodie Retallick, Jack Goodhue and Nepo Laulala, the team said on Tuesday.

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