Rugby News

Rugby-Foster bemoans lack of intensity as All Blacks fall to Pumas

SYDNEY, Nov 14 (Reuters) - All Blacks coach Ian Foster said his team had not underestimated Argentina after succumbing to their first defeat to the Pumas in 30 tests on Saturday and losing back-to-back tests for the first time in nine years.

After last week’s 24-22 loss to Australia in the Tri-Nations, Foster had put out his first choice side for a contest against an Argentina side who had not played a test in more than a year, and precious little rugby at all this season.

The Pumas put in a stunning performance at Western Sydney Stadium, however, running out 25-15 winners and giving Foster a record of two wins, one draw and two defeats in his first five matches in charge.

“You can tell by my body language that I’m not excited by it,” Foster told reporters.

“We certainly didn’t underestimate them, we’ve had those sort of arm-wrestles with them before. They are a team we have massive respect for.

“They challenged us on our composure and it’s probably two weeks we haven’t handled that very well.”

Foster paid tribute to the Pumas, who have spent much of their preparation time for the tournament in quarantined environments in South America and after arriving in Australia.

“We saw a team that everybody said their disadvantage was that they hadn’t played a lot of rugby,” he said.

“(But) they came here with massive energy, and probably a massive desire to prove something for their country who have gone through a heck of a hard time.

“There’s no excuses, it’s an All Blacks jersey and we have to do our best every time. But there certainly was a contrast in the intensity of the two teams.”

Foster said there was plenty of work to do in the two weeks before New Zealand’s final match of the season, also against Argentina.

“We’ve got to recharge the team and make sure we finish this year on a high,” he said.

“We don’t like having another team play with more intensity than us so we’ve got to figure out how to respond.”

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Pritha Sarkar