24 Aug 2021

New Zealand Rugby makes plans for the future

6:14 pm on 24 August 2021

The All Blacks' future became clearer on Tuesday.

All Blacks winger Sevu Reece during the 2021 Bledisloe Cup Test rugby match between the All Blacks and Australia held at Eden Park

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2021

The team now knows where they will be playing over the coming weeks and who will be guiding them over the coming years.

After days of uncertainty around the All Blacks immediate playing schedule, Queensland was announced as the host state for the Rugby Championship between New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina.

The All Blacks will finally jump on a plane this week - initially bound for Perth for Bledisloe III - knowing that head coach Ian Foster is with them for the long haul through until the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

New Zealand Rugby chief executive officer Mark Robinson said it was unanimous decision to reappoint Foster for a further two years and they weren't pressured by the All Blacks impending departure.

"Working through it it made sense to have this done sooner rather than later and the timing just felt right," Robinson said.

"With the combination of the uncertainty ahead combined with what we've seen and the feedback from the group especially through this year and towards the end of last year...that was all looking really positive so that gave us a good sound foundation to make the decision and move forward."

All Blacks Head Coach Ian Foster.

Ian Foster will be with the All Blacks through the next Rugby World Cup. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Foster took over from Steve Hansen after the 2019 World Cup - after seeing off the challenge of Crusaders coach Scott Robertson.

During Foster's time in charge the team has won the Bledisloe Cup twice, as well as last year's Rugby Tri-Nations.

Foster said he was the right man for the job, but was aware the All Blacks have not yet played the world champion Springboks or any teams from the Northern Hemisphere and he will be tested when they do.

"Half way through the second year of a contract and we've had eleven Test matches so Covid's given us a whole lot of incomplete data but I've got full confidence in my [coaching] group and that's obviously been reinforced by the board," Foster said.

The All Blacks stand-in captain Sam Whitelock and halfback Aaron Smith might not be on the plane when the All Blacks leave on Thursday for the start of a 15-week stretch away from home which encompasses the Rugby Championship in Queensland followed by the tour to Europe.

Both players' wives are due to give birth shortly and the travel and quarantine restrictions the players face mean they are likely to stay back in New Zealand - at least for the short term.

Foster said unlike the South Africans and Argentineans, the All Blacks would not be taking a big squad to Australia for the Rugby Championship.

"Reality is is we can't send players home after the Rugby Championship, so whoever we take initially is stuck with us for 14, 15 weeks and we've got to get that balance between taking enough to cover most reasonable circumstances and not taking too much that we become a little bit unworldly with the size of the group right through until the end of November."

The date for the third Bledisloe Cup is still to be confirmed, but the All Blacks will confirm their initial touring squad on Wednesday.