All Blacks retain Cane, Foster despite Irish series defeat

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The New Zealand All Blacks on Friday retained Ian Foster as head coach and Sam Cane as captain for the Rugby Championship despite calls for the pair to be replaced after the home series defeat to Ireland.

"We have taken on board the lessons from the (Ireland) series and are excited about looking forward to the next phase of our Test season," said Foster.

"Rugby Championship, plus the Bledisloe Cup, remain our top priorities. This is a real chance to show what we are about as a team."

Cane has been named captain of a 36-man squad for the championship, with New Zealand playing their opening two Tests in South Africa on August 6 and 13 before facing Argentina, then Australia.

In the wake of last Saturday's 32-22 series-clinching third Test defeat at home to Ireland, New Zealand media had speculated that veteran lock Sam Whitelock could take over the All Blacks' captaincy.

Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt had also been tipped to replace Foster as head coach after the All Blacks lost five of their last six matches.

However, Cane has been retained as skipper while Foster will also hold onto his job despite a review by senior New Zealand Rugby Union bosses.

"The past fortnight has been a challenging time for us and of course our fans," said NZRU CEO Mark Robinson.

"There have been some thorough conversations this week, as there always are around our performance environments, and these will continue.

"It’s exciting to be heading back to South Africa for the first time in several years -- we have two big games ahead of us there and our focus now is to support the team to improve performance and be successful."

The bulk of the squad that lost to Ireland has been retained, with Highlanders lock Josh Dickson and Blues playmaker Stephen Perofeta as the only uncapped players.

New Zealand play South Africa in Nelspruit on August 6, then Johannesburg a week later.

The All Blacks host Argentina in Christchurch on August 27, then again in Hamilton the following weekend.

They face Australia away in Melbourne on Thursday, September 15 before hosting the Wallabies in Auckland for their final home game of 2022 on September 24.

New Zealand squad: Dane Coles, Samisoni Taukeiaho, Codie Taylor, Aidan Ross, George Bower,  Nepo Laulala, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Ethan de Groot, Angus Ta'avao, Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tupou Vaa'i, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane (capt), Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Folau Fakatava, Aaron Smith, Beauden Barrett, Richie Mo'unga, Stephen Perofeta, Jack Goodhue, David Havili, Rieko Ioane, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Quinn Tupaea, Jordie Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Will Jordan, Sevu Reece

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