By Ian Ransom
(Reuters) -New Zealand coach Ian Foster has been reappointed through to the end of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France after guiding the All Blacks to victory over Australia in the Bledisloe Cup.
The contract extension quashes media speculation over Foster’s future in the wake of an underwhelming first season in charge in 2020, when the All Blacks managed three wins from six tests.
“It’s clearly been a challenging couple of years with COVID-19, but I’ve been hugely proud of the resilience shown by the team,” Foster, who succeeded Steve Hansen as coach after the 2019 World Cup, said in a media release.
“I’m personally driven to have our team continue to succeed as we build to Rugby World Cup 2023.”
The All Blacks are undefeated in five tests in 2021 and retained the Bledisloe Cup, the annual trophy contested with Australia, for a 19th successive year with back-to-back wins over the Wallabies at Eden Park this month.
NZR CEO Mark Robinson said Foster could now plan for next year and beyond with certainty.
“Ian has faced extraordinary times since he was first appointed, with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the numerous challenges it has thrown up, and he’s shown remarkable composure and resolve to lead incredibly well through it all,” Robinson said.
NZR said it had also started work on contracting the rest of Foster’s coaching staff and management team.
Foster’s next task will be to guide the All Blacks to victory in the Rugby Championship against Australia, world champions South Africa and Argentina.
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Richard Pullin)