New Zealand coach Ian Foster has conceded that his team’s July Tests against Wales and Scotland are likely to be scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The All Blacks are set to face Wales twice and Scotland once and although the official word from the three countries is that the Tests “are still planned for”, Foster believes it will not go ahead.
“If you look at the probability, there’s a reasonably good chance that international travel and borders won’t be down across the world at that point, so in that case the All Blacks won’t be playing in July,” he told Radio Newstalk ZB.
Foster added they could not keep international players at a level of match fitness just in case because “they’ll just blow out mentally and get really frustrated with that because there’s so much uncertainty.
“We want the players to settle down then we’ll start expecting fitness levels to be at a certain point that when the lockdown finishes and we do start to think about a starting point for rugby again.”
With New Zealand currently in lockdown until the end of April at least, Foster also confirmed that he, along with his coaching staff and players are preparing themselves for pay cuts as New Zealand Rugby try to cut costs.
“Our coaching group has definitely taken a big cut, it’s already been agreed to,” he said.
“With rugby, when there’s no games there’s no revenue, and that’s a tough thing.
“I haven’t had one player yet who doesn’t know it’s going to happen or doesn’t accept that it’s going to happen.”
But when the restrictions are eased, Foster will be pushing for the All Blacks to get as much game-time as possible.
“When the curtain goes up and it’s time to play, and the borders are open, there will be a lot of desire to get the international game going, particularly from the southern hemisphere teams,” he added.
“We’ll be keen to play as much as we can because that’s how you can generate some big money, and we can start to recoup some stuff.”