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Young guns can help All Blacks come out firing, insists Foster

New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster
New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster

By Andy Newport

All Blacks young guns Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown have been backed to provide the firepower to shoot down Ireland in their World Cup quarter-final showdown.

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Steve Hansen has opted to go with the 24-year-olds for today's clash in Tokyo over more experienced campaigners Sonny Bill Williams and Ryan Crotty.

New Zealand assistant coach Ian Foster admits it was a tough call, especially with double World Cup winner Williams back on top form.

But Hansen's right-hand man is confident that Crusaders protege Goodhue and Chiefs midfielder Lienert-Brown are the men to unlock Joe Schmidt's team.

He said: "We've always had a plan in mind to some degree, but it's how you train and how you play that have also got a major say in selection. It's one thing for coaches to have a long-term plan but we've got to assess that weekly.

"So it's been a tough decision in midfield, and it's a tough decision not so much who to put in but who to leave out. We would have been quite happy with all four of them in those 12 and 13 jerseys. We just felt for this game that Albie (Lienert-Brown) is playing really well at the moment, full of energy.

"Jack has come back from a hamstring injury and has got back to the level we know he can play at. We like the combination, but at the same time we've got Sonny there and he's probably playing the best I've seen him play for 12 to 18 months, there's a lot of energy there too.

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"And Crotts did a great job against South Africa, so we've got some good choices. But for whatever reason we just think these two for this one. We think they can get us off to a great start."

New Zealand are on the hunt for their third straight World Cup title and fourth overall. Ireland, on the other hand, have never made it past the quarter-finals but Foster said: "We've been there but it doesn't make it any easier just because you have the knowledge of what's at stake."

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