'He's a good man' - Former ABs back Foster ahead of own fights

Source: 1News

Under-fire All Blacks coach Ian Foster has received backing from several high-profile former players gearing up for their own battles.

Keven Mealamu, Carlos Spencer and Liam Messam are prepping for their boxing bouts at the Fight for Life charity event in Auckland on Thursday, but still had plenty of interest in Saturday’s series-deciding Test in Wellington, which the All Blacks lost 32-22 to Ireland.

“I think it’s a lot easier doing this job than being an All Black coach at the moment,” Spencer joked to 1News.

Despite Tuesday’s media session being organised to promote the event, much of the chat was still centred around the trio’s rugby roots and their thoughts on the current squad – as well as their coach.

“I'll back all our coaches in there at the moment,” Mealamu said.

Ian Foster looks on after the All Blacks' loss to Ireland in Dunedin.

“There’s nothing like a little bit of adversity to really start growing. Whether it's our leadership or young players as well - to really learn, this is the sort of pressure you want before you get to the World Cup because it’s a long time between four years.

“So if there’s an opportunity to learn, this is the time to do it now.”

Spencer backed Foster and company to stay in the job too, despite the current coach’s 69.6% win rate being the lowest in the modern era since Laurie Mains.

“For me, it’s around mindset and how we change our game,” the former All Black first-five said.

Messam had a bit more to say about Foster’s character, having played under him for both Waikato and the Chiefs previously.

Liam Messam with Ian Foster at a Chiefs press conference in 2009.

“He’s a good man. Good man, great coach - I remember as a 17-year-old coming home from school and he was sitting at my dinner table waiting to sign me up for Waikato,” Messam said.

“But he’s a good man and I know he'll be hurting from what’s going on.”

Despite the endorsements, the trio agreed they still weren’t happy with how the series unfolded.

“Where they were probably two steps behind us a couple of years ago, now they’re probably a step ahead of us in terms of their attack,” Spencer said.

“In some ways, that sort of frustrates me because I look at our skillset and the calibre of players that we have here and I just think that should never happen.”

Spencer added he wanted to see an attacking overhaul; a change of mindset towards more innovation with less kicking.

“It’s probably a good wake up call for us, gives us a bit of a kick up the jacksie in terms of where we need to be.”