"I only saw three Irish players" - All Blacks coach dismisses "Kiwi" connection 7 months ago

"I only saw three Irish players" - All Blacks coach dismisses "Kiwi" connection

The New Zealand head coach did not pay this one much heed.

Ian Foster put this question to bed, not long after Ireland had done the same to his team.


At this stage, all rugby fans are aware of the eligibility rules that allow a player to represent a country that he has played rugby in for a number of years. That rule has been lengthened from three to five years, but the four New Zealanders that lined up in the Ireland XV on Saturday only needed to satisfy the three-year stint.

Bundee Aki, Jamison Gibson-Park and James Lowe all arrived over to Ireland between 2016 and 2018. They served their time in their adopted countries, satisfied those rules, excelled in the sport, earned call-ups and then earned more, as well as starting spots.

All three have more than earned the right to represent Ireland at Test level, and were crucial in Andy Farrell's side securing a 29-20 win over the All Blacks.

Following the game, New Zealand head coach Ian Foster paid credit to the victors. "Congrats to Ireland," Foster began. "I thought they thoroughly deserved their win in the game.


"They came out and played incredibly well and held ball for long periods we did really really well in hanging in there and frustrating them and taking our two scores kept us hanging in the game.

"I was really impressed by their high tempo game it kept us chasing and at the end, when it really mattered, we did not have the composure to take [our chances]. They played a pressure game similar to several of the games we have faced them in before so congratulations to them."

Foster has been either head coach or assistant, to Steve Hansen, for all three of Ireland's recent wins over the All Blacks. To his mind, this was the best Irish performance of the lot.

After fending off a question on whether he would love to see the best club sides compete in a World Cup, Foster was then asked how Ireland's "three Kiwis" had got on. Without missing a beat, he responded:

"I only saw three Irish players."


That was the end of that. Nothing more needed to be said on that one.

Bundee Aki and James Lowe of Ireland after their side's victory over New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium. (Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile)

'There is more ambition' says Ian Foster of Ireland's playing style


If there was any gripes from Ian Foster or his captain, Sam Whitelock, they were minor. Whitelock dismissed a query about both sides being very chatty and contesting calls as 'part of the game' while Foster felt an Akira Ioane try should not have been ruled out.

"I made point, before the game, that there are a lot of similarities [with us]. Ireland play a high retention game like to retain the ball and saw it again tonight. There is an ambition to play a bit more wider than that and on counter-attack. There is more ambition; don't get me wrong. I thought it was probably best performance in my time by Ireland."

Lowe, one of the Ireland players Foster was asked about, spoke about catching up with several of the All Blacks at the end of another gripping encounter.

"I spent a lot of time with a lot of those boys," he said. "Some of my best friends, people I’ve lived with - guys I seriously admire in terms of who they are as people, what they represent - I’ve got to stand there and have a good old chinwag with a lot of the boys.

"It’s a game of rugby at the end of the day. We’re best mates, I've got best mates on both side of the fence. They were happy for me, I was happy for them but it’s rugby at the end of the day. "