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Gatland comments just 'banter': Foster

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 20/06/2017

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has laughed off the "feedback" of his ex-Waikato teammate Warren Gatland in the lead-up to the first Test against the British and Irish Lions.

Foster joined veteran flanker Jerome Kaino in dismissing Lions coach Gatland's comments that New Zealand teams routinely "block" opponents off the ball, threating to light a fuse under Test week.

However, Foster knows Gatland well from their former provincial playing days and reckons there was probably a mischievous edge to the remarks.

"I expected it. We were apparently bad scrummagers last week and this week we're bad at something else," Foster said.

"I guarantee we'll be useless at something else next week. That's how I'm treating it.

"There's a bit of banter going in. We appreciate feedback but it doesn't change much of our plans."

Gatland says he plans to meet Test referee Jaco Peyper this week to discuss the issue.

Foster says the All Blacks will leave the South African whistler alone.

It is there policy to leave referees in peace in the lead-up to Tests, believing they have a hard enough job without the pressure of coaches.

However, that stance didn't stop Foster from making a plea to all the officials in the three-Test series to keep an eye on the Lions' defensive line speed.

He noted World Rugby bosses had issued a decree to give space between teams.

"It's a priority for them this year to make sure the offside lines are patrolled heavily, especially with the increase in line speed of all rugby teams," Foster said.

"If you don't police offside lines, you don't get a game where teams have a chance to play."

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