Plumtree to grow 'physical edge' in All Blacks - Foster

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree will be tasked with increasing the physicality of the forward pack after he was confirmed part of Ian Foster’s new coaching group on Thursday.

Plumtree joins former All Blacks prop Greg Feek and current defence coach Scott McLeod under head coach Foster, who was confirmed last week to have succeeded Steve Hansen.

Foster told reporters in Auckland on Thursday that he was impressed by Plumtree’s work with the Wellington Hurricanes.

“I have really liked his mannerisms and the way he deals with the players. He cares for them and he also pushes them,” Foster told TVNZ.

“We need to grow our edge in that physical forward stuff and I think he will do that really well.”

The All Blacks had issues dealing with the physicality of the South African and English forwards at the Rugby World Cup in Japan and need to rebuild their tight five for 2020, with Feek to assist Plumtree with the pack and concentrate on the scrum.

Feek has returned home after almost a decade in Ireland where he was scrum coach for Leinster and then the national side under fellow New Zealander Joe Schmidt.

He replaces long-time All Blacks scrum coach Mike Cron.

“Greg is replacing some big shoes with Cronno,” Foster added. “He has his own ways of doing things and he is proven at that level and brings a lot of experience.

“He will (also) bring some interesting insight into what it is to play the All Blacks so there is a bit of value in that.”

McLeod, who worked alongside Foster under Hansen, will continue as defence coach, a job he has held for the last two years.

Foster added that he had targeted Scarlets’ head coach Brad Mooar to join his group, with New Zealand Rugby and the Welsh club in negotiations about securing an early release from his three-year contract.

“There has been a report from Scarlets that they’re talking to (NZR) about Brad Mooar,” said Foster. “All I can confirm is that’s true and we’re letting those protocols unfold.

“It’s going well. We’re really confident and hopeful we’ll get a solution soon.”

With Plumtree’s elevation to the All Blacks, his former Hurricanes assistant Jason Holland is taking over as head coach, with former All Blacks winger Cory Jane joining his hometown team as defence coach.

Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ed Osmond/Peter Rutherford