How to rate Foster


@chris said in All Blacks 2021:

I have read your posts on this thread and I do agree there are more things wrong with AB rugby than just Foster and you make some really valid points on that.

What is your opinion on Foster as a coach do you rate him or not really?.
Genuine question being asked here.

Genuine answer: I don’t know quite how I rate him at this stage. Bit of a curate’s egg. Apologies for the long post

Obviously looking in from 12,000 miles away, but I think he’s inherited a mess (and obviously knew what he was getting into) and he can’t influence everything in the AB camp - like lack of depth in certain positions, choice of assistant coaches. And where he can influence stuff, we don’t know how long it will take to turn things around. This year he’s had to deal with some key players being unavailable which would make any coach’s job difficult. But that’s his job.

Pluses:

  • Foster’s developed some good depth in the loose forwards and has managed the likes of Akira Ioane better than any other coach. Ditto Reiko where he’s back to his best form at wing while developing his skills at 13
  • He seems happy to give off-the-wall ideas a try (bizarrely playing JB at wing) but equally recognises when things aren’t working and nailed him in at 15 where he’s developed as a world-class 15
  • Openness to trying new players like Sami T & Finlay Christie (and Brad Webber) and giving them plenty of game time has reaped some dividends.
  • Trying to be consistent in midfield and tried to build combinations. He’s stopped mucking ALB about and given Havilli plenty of time to settle in. He’s also given Reiko plenty of time at 13 to settle in without wrecking his confidence.
  • When the team actually does play well, they play bloody well - whoever the opponent is. Just not for long enough periods
  • He’s prepared to front up and take the crap for his players when things don’t go well (but see my comment on communications below)

Negatives:

  • If he has a new game plan or plans, I can’t see it, or it isn’t being executed well. Some of our tactics are poor/weird and/or poorly executed.
  • He sticks with some bizarre selections which don’t make sense to me. Player loyalty is a good thing but can be carried too far and damage confidence. Think Bridge & Havilli.
  • The attitude of the team under pressure seems all over the place as is the on-field leadership. This isn’t all up to him as it includes the senior players, but he needs to lead here. This sort of stuff can’t be fixed overnight and there were glimpses of improvement - particularly against Oz - but they faded badly on the NH tour. That’s not good enough.
  • There’s too many mistakes, ill-discipline, and lack of consistency on-field. That’s down to him - and his Captain(s).
  • He doesn’t communicate well in public. Which makes me wonder if he’s not communicating well enough with the team overall. He’s probably pretty good dealing on a one-to-one basis though (i.e. Akira).

Stick with him or a new coach? A new coach might make a short-term difference and paper over the cracks for a year or two, but the deeper problems still need to be fixed. I’m old enough to remember the crap time it was to be an AB supporter in the 70’s -early 80’s when we swapped one wonder-coach for another every two years

Perhaps Foster understands the problem well enough, but he, with his current coaching team aren’t capable of fixing them. Ideally, I’d like to see someone like Schmidt given more influence and a remit to understand the deeper issues & support Foster, along with someone like Tana or the GOAT to help with the team culture. TBF, we don’t know how much input Foster has in this area.

And then if things don’t improve this year, we have an experienced international coach who has worked with the team, understands the deeper issues who can take over and provide continuity

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