All black people see value in Tonga’s elimination
New Zealand’s 102-0 pounding against an understaffed Tonga team could have been described as “a sad situation” by a local newspaper, but coach Ian Foster felt it was a valuable outing for him. start the season.
Foster is under pressure after only achieving a 50% win rate in his first season at the helm last year and was delighted with what his side showed in Saturday’s record-breaking victory.
“We definitely got a lot out of it,” he told Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland. “We played limited structure and I thought our skill level was really good.”
Tonga, without most of their European-based regulars, started nine debutants and struggled to contain the All Blacks as the home baseline hit high gear.
Winger Will Jordan scored five of their 16 tries as the All Blacks tied their record by beating the Tongans through Albany City 21 years ago.
“It wasn’t a perfect performance from a distance, but I thought our handling in these conditions was good, some of our (racing) lines were good,” added Foster.
“There were some areas where we relaxed a bit. This was partly due to the pressure Tonga was putting on us and partly because we got a bit flippant in the way we played.”
New Zealand, which was originally scheduled to host Italy for two tests ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, completes its July campaign with tests against Fiji in Dunedin and Hamilton over the next two weekends .
While the lopsided score will only fuel the debate over how best to support Pacific Island rugby, Foster believed the engagement on the pitch was a step in the right direction.
“It’s great to play against the Pacific island nations again,” he said.
“A lot will be done with the score, but people have to look beyond that. It was a great opportunity to rekindle our rivalry with Tonga and we really look forward to Fiji next week.
“The best way to support them is to play them.”