New Zealand turns on All Blacks coach after telling post-game act

All Blacks coach Ian Foster looks on as All Blacks players recover from a gruelling contest against Ireland.
All Blacks coach Ian Foster left fans outraged when he skipped the post-game press conferenc after last weekend's bruising loss to Ireland. Pictures: Getty Images

The behind-the-scenes preparations and logistics before what would be a harrowing press conference detailing Steve Smith's role in Sandpaper-gate were just about locked in place when a suggestion was put forward.

The idea was floated that, maybe, the Australia captain would be better off just reading a prepared statement and then taking a side door exit to avoid further scrutiny.

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Respected cricket journalist Malcolm Conn, who was Cricket Australia's communications manager in Sydney at the time, was having none of it.

"There was some debate around whether Steve Smith should take questions or not. Well, unequivocally, yes," Conn told Yahoo Sport Australia, recalling one of the most emotional pressers in our sporting history.

"It's all part of owning up and taking responsibility.

"You've just got to deal with it because otherwise it becomes a weeping sore. It's not going to go away.

"That was the case with Davey (Warner) and Steve – they owned it straight away.

"One of the basic tenets of comms is immediacy. If you don't address it, you’re just going to be hounded.

"If you do you're a chance of people giving you an even break over time. It starts the healing process."

Five days after the Kiwis' third Test loss to Ireland – handing the visitors' their first series win in New Zealand - the country has still not heard from All Blacks coach Ian Foster.

He spoke immediately after the game but has been shielded from the media ever since.

All Blacks media manager Jo Malcolm took responsibility for the decision not to put Foster before the cameras at a scheduled press conference the day after the Test, saying she didn’t want him to be a "punching bag for the media who wanted blood".

The move has backfired terribly, with pressure mounting each day on Foster and New Zealand Rugby officials to say something.

The healing process has not begun. The weeping sore has become a gaping wound.

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One NZ website is carrying a satirical piece with the headline: "Next All Blacks Test cancelled due to everyone being mean."

Conn said: "The fact is (Foster's) going to have to speak at some stage and instead of talking about the next game, all the talk's going to be about the last game.

"It just pours more fuel on the fire."

Another former media manager we talked to, who didn’t wish to be named, believes going through with the press conference the day after the game may have actually benefitted Foster.

"He'd done the post-game presser and therefore had faced all the questions," he pointed out.

All Blacks player Beauden Barrett is tackled by two Ireland rivals.
Ireland took out the Test series against the All Blacks with a 32-22 victory in the final. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

"You then go through it and work out what responses were tricky from the day before and come up with some better answers for the next day.

"Then you front and answer all questions, saying you are the man to lead the team forward. Look at what has happened by not doing it.

"It has now become a massive issue both for the coach, who looks like he’s running, and the media manager who has circumnavigated the system.

"It was a major blunder."

As Conn said: "The sun doesn't shine every day. You've got to take the good with the bad … or, in some cases, the terrible.

"It's not just about fronting up after a win."

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