Ian Foster has shrugged off queries over his future as New Zealand coach ahead of a tour of South Africa that could spell the end of his tenure.
Despite huge pressure, Foster survived a New Zealand Rugby review into the 2-1 series defeat to Ireland, with his assistant coaches instead taking the fall for the shock result.
However, defeat in the upcoming Rugby Championship tests against world champions South Africa would renew calls in New Zealand for change at the top.
Asked whether his position might become untenable with another setback in South Africa, Foster said he was only focused on the job at hand.
“It’s not something I think about. I think about just doing the best I can in my role,” Foster told reporters in Wellington on Tuesday.
“My job is to get excited about taking the team to South Africa.
“We’re not panicking. I’m not sure about the rest of the people.”
With the three-times world champion All Blacks losing four of their last five tests, Foster’s 67% winning record from 24 tests is the worst for a New Zealand coach in decades.
Foster said head office had given him no demands regarding the South Africa tour, which starts in Mbombela on Aug. 6.
“I don’t need them to tell me what we want to do,” he added.
“We want to play well. With all the emotions around when you lose a series, it’s easy for people to get scratchy and poke holes, and I get all that and accept all that.
“But it doesn’t change our job, which is to get the group to play well.”
Jason Ryan has joined Foster’s staff as forwards coach, replacing John Plumtree, while attack coach Brad Mooar has not been replaced.
Foster will work with the backs in the short term with some input from selector and analyst Joe Schmidt, though the former Ireland coach will not travel with the team.
Flyhalf Richie Mo’unga said he “100%” backed Foster and that the players needed to shoulder the blame for the Ireland defeat.
“We need to make a statement about who we are as All Blacks and the standard that comes with that,” he added.