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Tough decisions, but great resources, Foster

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Lynn McConnell     11 Aug 2014     Getty Images

Assistant coach Ian Foster said on Monday that the selectors faced tough decisions in choosing their rearguard for the opening Investec Rugby Championship Test against Australia in Sydney.

The fact that Israel Dagg re-entered the picture after missing the final two Tests against England due to injury, but producing some fine form for the Crusaders in the latter stages of the Super Rugby competition, only added to the process.

Dagg had endured issues with his knee which diminished his kicking prowess but the enforced break had done him good and there were distinct signs of progress, Foster said. But with Dagg, Ben Smith, Cory Jane, Julian Savea and Charles Piutau all in the picture the situation was healthy.

"The fact that we have got two or three combinations that we are happy to start with shows how hard this decision is," he said.

Foster said the Friday 'game of three halves' had worked out well and the players who hadn't played for nearly three or four weeks were sporting a few aches which had been good while the remainder of the time had been spent working on strategies and that had gone well.

He didn't feel there was too much to be gained from the Waratahs' Super Rugby success. The All Blacks' management felt there were a couple of variables that marked differences between Super Rugby and Test rugby and it was up to the All Blacks to ensure they could demonstrate that.

There was a distinctly improved feeling about the preparation compared to that ahead of the first Test against England, he said.

At training on Monday he said he observed the players were 'bouncing' around the park as opposed to having to be dragged around ahead of the England series.

"You feel a freshness in their attitude; it is a physical and a mental thing and they know now there is just one job to do and it is get back in black and do it well," he said.