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New Zealand fans shivering with anticipation says All Blacks coach Ian Foster

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New Zealanders are “generally cynical” and conservative but All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said Friday he can sense there is “a lot of excitement” back home ahead of his team’s bid for a record fourth Rugby World Cup title.

The 58-year-old has achieved something few thought he could last year, when he was only saved from the sack by the intervention of the players after a series of poor results, by taking them to Saturday’s final.

The All Blacks face great rivals and fellow three-time winners South Africa at the Stade de France.

Foster may be in the odd position come 9pm on Saturday of lifting the Webb Ellis trophy and yet being the soon to be ex-All Blacks head coach — Scott Robertson was named in his post earlier this year with Foster refusing to re-apply.

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All Blacks have a special place in Kiwi hearts

“The All Blacks have always had a special place in New Zealanders’ hearts,” said Foster at the eve-of-match press conference.

“The amount of support we have got from our country has been quite overwhelming.

“We are generally a conservative bunch, we are generally cynical at times.

“We show our love and support while criticising yet that has swung around a little bit.

“Suddenly there is a lot of excitement from our country.”

Foster — who stepped up to the top role in 2019 after faithfully serving as Steve Hansen’s assistant from 2012 — said the motivation to win came from both within themselves and the great victories of the past.

“We get it from the history and the legacy of the jersey, which is massive for us,” he said.

“The people who have walked the journey we have walked.

“We get it from the people we represent, our families and our past.

“Then when we shut the door and get in a circle it’s also that group of people who are massively motivated to meet the standards we have set ourselves.”

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‘Plenty of laughs’

For flyhalf Richie Mo’unga is 80 minutes away from following playmaking legends Grant Fox and Dan Carter in winning the trophy. Asked about the pressure of preparing for the final, he said it was a case of “where the mind goes the body will follow.”

Mo’unga, 29, could be bidding farewell to the historic jersey as he is leaving for club rugby in Japan.

Already certain to go are 2015 World Cup winners Aaron Smith, Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock.

However, Mo’unga said there had been no room for sentiment during the week or chat about winning the title, so those leaving could experience the same high Carter and Richie McCaw enjoyed at Twickenham in 2015.

“We haven’t really touched upon those that are leaving,” said Mo’unga.

“It’s all been about how we can influence the outcome of this game.

“Everyone is in a different chapter of their journey.

“This is a way to make history. I want to be part of history. I want to bring the World Cup home.

“Whatever happens after that I don’t really care.”

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Victory over Springboks will be the cherry on top

Mo’unga said the moments he would most treasure from the past few weeks were the lighter ones, hopefully climaxing with victory over the Springboks.

“When I look back I will appreciate the friendships I’ve made on this tour,” he said.

“And there are plenty of laughs — it’s like being on camp sometimes with your friends, pranks, joking around, coffees.

“That stuff energises me and is a huge reason I want to try so hard for the person next to me.

“I’ll miss that and I’ll remember that the most, and hopefully looking back it will be the game of my life and the biggest achievement of my rugby career.”

AFP

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