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Foster pays tribute to retiring coach Wayne Smith

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Lynn McConnell     17 Oct 2017     Getty Images

Smith, who after two years as coach in 2000-01, returned as an assistant for Graham Henry in 2004 and had been involved through to 2011 and again before the 2015 Rugby World Cup and will finish his active link with the side after Saturday's third Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane.

Foster said Smith hadn't been involved in his first three years as assistant coach but he had come in and did his job really well, was passionate, enthusiastic and the players fed off that.



"He's got a great desire for this team to do well and that manifests itself in a whole lot of ways. Overall, we're certainly a richer place for having him here," he said.

Foster said they were following protocols with first five-eighths Beauden Barrett based on what happened the day before. He had symptoms two days ago after training and he had a brief session at a gym on Tuesday.

"How he responds to a session will determine what happens tomorrow," he said.

There was still a window where he could play, but if there was any doubt he would not be playing, Foster said.

"We need to make sure we've got all bases covered so Damian [McKenzie] has been going in there regularly over the last four or five weeks of training, not to a great extent but enough, and Richie [Mo'unga] has come in and it is a chance for him to look at it, and he is looking today, and we'll have a yack tomorrow and see where he is with the content, but he'll fit in well," he said.

In the meantime, Lima Sopoaga was taking the chance he missed out on when slotted for the Argentina Test only to have to stay home for paternal reasons.

However, he had 55 minutes after Barrett left the field in Cape Town and Foster said he had been influential whenever he played for the All Blacks this year.

"Overall, he's in a good spot, and whilst it's always nice to be starting he's done a pretty significant role off the bench so one way or the other he'll be pretty excited about getting on the park," he said.

Damian McKenzie, in spite of the success he had made since starting at fullback, was still keen to play at first five-eighths where he was already a good player and if able to get his skill set and decision-making up to international level he would give the coaches a lot of 'great' choices, Foster said.

Starting at first five-eighths regularly for the Chiefs next year would be a positive for the future.

Foster was delighted with the form wing Waisake Naholo showed playing for Taranaki in their Ranfurly Shield defence last week. While still not fully over his hamstring injury he had been fast and showed how devastating he could be. He had played well in Buenos Aires without having had the consistently regular starts he might have wanted to be at his best.

The Wallabies had been settled for the first time in a while and were reaping some rewards as a consequence.

"They've got a lot of good players and they've been working hard on getting front foot ball for that group to play and come forward. They certainly did that for large spells in Dunedin against us and showed they like front foot ball and they like to be able to run at you and manipulate and they're very capable of doing that if we let them," he said.

There were signs of developing confidence in how the drivers in the Wallabies wanted to play and it was important those players in any team knew each other's games in order to achieve their goals, Foster said.