Outgoing All Blacks coach Ian Foster has not ruled out a switch to the Wallabies, while saying it would be “immensely difficult” to coach a national team other than New Zealand.
Foster told NZ radio station Newstalk ZB on Friday that his options were open but a lot of the top jobs were gone.
There was also what could be construed as a sly dig at Eddie Jones, who resigned from the Wallabies amid reports that he interviewed for the vacant Japan job before leading the Wallabies to their World Cup doom.
Foster was asked directly if he was going to apply for the vacant Australia job after being linked with it in the wake of Jones’ resignation.
“I’m just having a rest at the moment – I’ve done well getting out of bed for this interview,” said Foster, who arrived home this week after taking the All Blacks to within a point of the World Cup title.
“I’m not saying anything about my future at the moment – all I’d say is I haven’t spoken to anyone about anything.
“I’ve done that deliberately. I had a couple of options before the World Cup where I said ‘if you want to talk to me you have to wait until after the World Cup’. Because I don’t want this team or this country thinking I was busy trying to sort myself out before the biggest event. I wanted people to know I was 100 percent focused on the team and and I’d like to think everyone saw that.
“Now I want to take my time and figure out what’s next. The timing’s not perfect because a lot of jobs are all gone. That’s okay – I was willing to take that risk.”
Foster was asked if he wanted to coach “at the highest level”.
“That’s one of the options.” he replied. “There are a few things – you’ve got the club stuff in Europe, you’ve got Japan and there’s the international game.
“It’s immensely difficult talking about trying to coach another country when you’ve just had 12 years with the best team in the world and so close to my heart. Frankly I just need to breathe a little bit before I go down that path.”
Foster will be replaced by Scott Robertson and reflected on a difficult time in charge where he knew a lot of the fan base and New Zealand Rugby preferred the Crusaders coach.
“A number of the uniques of the situation I was in was when I got the job it always seemed to be under a conditon.
“There was a two-year contract. There was another candidate in their heart that people wanted and from then on it was the lens that they looked at everything we did. Once people fix their mind on an opinion it’s very hard to move them
“I’m relaxed on that. It doesn’t actually change the fact we’ve got a job to do and I’d like to think now they realise I led a group that was highly motivated and that could produce a team that can win a World Cup.
“The supporters have been phenomenal. You have to differentiate between some factions of the media and the rugby public.”
There was clearly people in both camps who thought Foster was doomed to failure after a difficult 2022 but his team almost proved everyone wrong, except himself.
“I always believed we could win it,” Foster said.
“The second half of last year we played really well. I know we’re losing seven or eight experienced players but we’ve introduced a number of newer players into leading positions and that occurred after that Ireland series.
“We’ve been though a period of change. We’ve got a lot of younger guys coming through now that the more experience we got into them, the better they looked.
“We were feeling we were in a good place but the nature of the World Cup draw effectively meant that the top four teams were playing each other in the quarter-finals and two were going to go home.
“Imagine what it’s like being in France and Ireland now. They went in with the highest of hopes of winning the World Cup and both go knocked out in the quarter-finals. That shows you how close the margins are.”