‘I’ll have some popcorn’: All Blacks coach Ian Foster eager to learn World Cup final opponents

Ian Foster will watch the England vs South africa semi-final with bated breath

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New Zealand head coach Ian Foster says he’ll watch the second semi-final at the Rugby World Cup with popcorn in hand as he waits to find out who they will face in next Saturday’s final.

The All Blacks thumped Argentina 44-6 at the Stade de France in the first semi-final on Friday evening as the best quarter-final weekend in the tournament’s history was followed by a damp squib to open up the last four.

The second semi-final in Paris on Saturday evening should be a closer affair as England face South Africa, although the Springboks are heavy favourites to repeat their victory from the 2019 World Cup final.

The winners will take on New Zealand in the showpiece next weekend and Foster is adamant he has no preference as to who his side face, although he is looking forward to watching the clash and is also eager to use the additional day’s rest the All Blacks will have ahead of that encounter to his advantage.

“I’ll be watching it [England vs South Africa], probably have some popcorn,” said Foster in his post-match press conference. “I don’t care who wins. We’re very much in a focus on ourselves stage.

“What the extra day [of preparation] does give us is a chance to have a break mentally and not spend too much juice worrying about who it is that we’ll play next week.

“They’re both good teams. South Africa are playing some brilliant rugby but we’ve also seen the English team build away quietly. They’re starting to get really good at how they want to play. It should be an interesting contrast of styles.”

Foster has endured some tough times during this World Cup cycle with the normally dominant All Blacks struggling at times and his job security being called into question.

Ian Foster has helped guide New Zealand to the World Cup final

The fact they have reached a record fifth World Cup final, and the team appear to be having fun, could be seen as vindication for the head coach but he was keen to dismiss any notion of a personal revenge mission.

“There’s not a personal agenda here, this is about the All Blacks and the team,” explained Foster. “Things have happened to individuals and to me, but the team comes first. Right now we’re making a lot of those decisions together as a group and it is working well.

“You have to enioy your work. It’s not like it’s a focus for us to go out there and have fun, but to make sure we execute our game to the level we need to. The team takes a lot of pride when they do that.

“The work the players and leaders are doing is a real credit to them. As you go through tournaments, you have to enjoy it. There is a lot of pressure, so if you don’t celebrate moments, it is a long old time.

“I am proud to be part of this group, the coaches are linking well with the players and there is a nice synergy about it. But you know, one more week.”

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