Nearly half of NZ players not happy with Foster appointment - survey

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Almost half of New Zealand’s top flight rugby union players believe New Zealand Rugby (NZR) had not made the right choice in appointing Ian Foster as the All Blacks coach, according to a survey released on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: New Zealand Press Conference - The Lensbury, London, Britain - November 6, 2018 New Zealand assistant head coach Ian Foster during a press conference Action Images via Reuters/Peter Cziborra

Media company NZME conducted the anonymous survey of all five Super Rugby teams on a number of topics about the state of the sport in New Zealand, including whether Foster should have succeeded Steve Hansen to the job last December.

The survey found 46% of Super Rugby players felt NZR got the appointment wrong, while 28% said the long-term All Blacks assistant coach had been the right choice.

The remaining 26% said they were comfortable with Foster but not his choice of assistants - John Plumtree, Scott McLeod, Greg Feek and Brad Mooar.

Foster, who has yet to have his first game in charge of the All Blacks, spent eight years as an assistant to Hansen after earlier playing for and coaching the Waikato Chiefs.

He faced a tough challenge for the role from Scott Robertson, who has guided the Canterbury Crusaders to three successive Super Rugby titles.

Robertson received 16% of the players’ vote as the best coach they had played under, with former All Blacks flyhalf and current Otago Highlanders assistant coach Tony Brown receiving the highest vote of 17%.

NZR said in a statement they had “no comment to make” on the survey.

The survey included 40 questions to more than 100 players with at least 15 responses from each of the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams, NZME said.

It also found 40% of the players believe All Blacks flyhalf Beauden Barrett is the best player in New Zealand, heading off NZR’s Player of the Year in 2019, Ardie Savea (20%), and Brodie Retallick (12%).

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Lincoln Feast.