New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster admits the All Blacks are not invulnerable in their pursuit of ongoing global domination.
A third successive World Cup crown beckons but first they must negotiate a mouth watering semi-final against Eddie Jones’ England in a clash between the sport’s two highest ranked teams.
New Zealand have not lost a match in the tournament since 2007 and Foster, who is expected to eventually take over from head coach Steve Hansen, concedes that remaining at the pinnacle of the game creates its own pressure.
“It has always been one of the great challenges of sport – how you keep growing the group that is performing well?” Foster said.
“I guess that’s part of the All Blacks story and we feel pressure to keep writing that.
“We know the expectations and pressure upon us every time we play. It’s a matter of getting used to that. We don’t always get it right.”
There are growing concerns in New Zealand over the alarming decline in the number of boys playing the game in secondary school, leaving prop Joe Moody to conclude that the All Blacks have a duty to entertain as well as win at International Stadium Yokohama.
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“There is a lot less people playing rugby through school. There’s probably too much Playstation and soccer being played,” Moody said.
“If we can put out a decent show out there against England and through all of the games we play and make it somewhat attractive for the younger generation, that would be great.
“It goes without saying that we all love playing rugby and love the sport itself. If we can get more young people into it that would be a great thing.
“The only way to do that is to show them how good it can be and how it can be played well.”
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Moody is relishing the forward battle has promised England that his All Blacks will fight fire with fire.
“We’re up against a big England forward pack, we know they’re going to be pretty direct and really want to take it to us,” Moody said.
“So there are going to be some hard, straight lines and we’re going to have to be up for it in both attack and defence to be able to match fire with fire. It should be a big old ding-dong battle.
“I know it’s definitely going to be a physical match, as any international Test match is, and then there’s the fact that it’s a World Cup semi-final, too.”