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  19 Sep 2021, 10:02

Winning Tests more important than being No.1: All Blacks coach

  BRISBANE, Australia, Sept 19, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - All Blacks coach Ian Foster

insists winning Test matches is all that matters, downplaying their return to
the top of the world rankings as "not on our minds at all".

  New Zealand will be confirmed as number one when the new rankings are
released this week after their 36-13 victory over Argentina in Brisbane on
Saturday, dethroning South Africa for the first time since late 2018.

  They received major assistance from the Wallabies, who stunned the
Springboks 30-17, backing up from their 28-26 Rugby Championship win the week
before.

  "It's not on our mind at all," Foster said of the ranking.

  "I'm not saying that to downplay it. We're about to play South Africa next
week, we'll get excited about that.

  "We're more interested in winning a Test match than where we sit (in the
rankings).

  "If we focus too much on the other thing, we'll get tripped up and won't be
there for very long and that doesn't interest us either," he added.

  The bonus-point victory over Los Pumas all but sealed the Rugby
Championship for New Zealand, who face the Springboks in Townsville next week
-- the 100th Test between the two sides -- ahead of a return leg on the Gold
Coast.

  With a 10-point deficit in the table, South Africa must win with a bonus
point on Saturday to keep their slim title hopes alive.

  "It'll be a torrid game, they always are," said Foster. "I saw about 50-odd
minutes of that game (South Africa's loss to the Wallabies on Saturday) to
know what's coming.

  "It's probably the first time South Africa have played against a team
that's played with a lot of tempo in the last two years. I think they'll
learn a lot from that."

  Importantly, Foster was delighted with how his largely inexperienced team
overcame Argentina, having gone into the game with wholesale changes, resting
key players and trying out new combinations.

  While their execution was top-notch in the first-half, taking a 24-3 lead
into the break, they lost some momentum after the interval as Argentina grew
in confidence.

  Foster said he was encouraged by the form shown by younger players like
Samisoni Taukei'aho, Tupou Vaa'i, Hoskins Sotutu and Ethan Blackadder, and
the experience had been good for them.

  "We've got to be a lot more ruthless when we do create stuff, because we
left a few points out there," he said.

  "Overall, I think it was good for our newer players to feel that pressure
and that tension, and I thought that fourth quarter will be gold for us
because you realise you never have anyone beaten at Test level.

  "If you don't finish up when you've got a chance, you're in for a bunfight,
and we had our hands full in that last quarter against Argentina."

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