Sunday 22 September 2019

'He seems to give referees a bit of advice' - All Blacks assistant coach has dig at Johnny Sexton

Johnny Sexton remonstrates with referee Marius van der Westhuizen in Australia during the summer
Johnny Sexton remonstrates with referee Marius van der Westhuizen in Australia during the summer
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

When the All Blacks are in town, you can be guaranteed that there is never a dull moment when they step up for media duties.

This morning at their Blanchardstown base was no different as New Zealand's assistant coach Ian Foster had a couple of subtle and other not so subtle pot shots at Ireland.

Johnny Sexton yesterday stressed that Ireland would need to stay on the right side of Saturday's referee Wayne Barnes and when that was put to Foster today, he didn't shy away from issuing a firm retort.

"I'm not sure why he says that, Barnsey is a great ref," the Blacks' backs and attack coach said.

"Johnny seems to give them (referees) a bit of advice on the park too so I’m sure he will carry on doing that."

Bundee Aki's name has popped up on several occasions over the last couple of days as the Ireland centre gets set to line out against the country of his birth this weekend.

Several of the New Zealand players will be fully aware of the threat that Aki poses from his Super Rugby days with the Chiefs.

Asked if the All Blacks feel that they have any inside track on the Connacht centre's game, Foster responded: "Aw, I don't think so. He had a few years in the Chiefs, played really, really well. But he's been over here a while now.

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"I mean you have moulded him into an Irish man. He looks like an Irish man now doesn't he?

"There will be a couple of our guys who have probably played with him and know him personally but we are kind of getting used to that.”

Foster also said that he was expecting Ireland to attempt to 'suffocate' his side, which was a clear back-handed compliment.

"We're playing a team that is going to work hard on trying to suffocate us with possession," he added.

"We have to make sure that when we get opportunities to get the ball that we're really efficient at that, and that our set-piece goes well. And that when we do, that we play in a manner that we get a really good chance to attack them properly.

"In the past, they're a team that likes to hold onto the ball and play multi phases against you. And when that doesn't work they'll go to an aerial game  We'll have to be on top of our games in most areas."

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