Rugby-All Blacks 'making steps' despite rough patch, says hooker Taylor


New Zealand head coach Ian Foster speaks at a news conference ahead of their second clash in this year's Rugby Championship competition with South Africa at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, South Africa August 11, 2022. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

(Reuters) - It might be bravado to support embattled coach Ian Foster but hooker Codie Taylor said the All Blacks are making progress despite floundering in their worst losing streak in nearly a quarter of a century.

Taylor has been recalled to the bench for Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against the Springboks at Ellis Park after being dropped for the 26-10 defeat at Mbombela, the All Blacks' worst loss in South Africa in 94 years.

It was also their fifth defeat in six tests, the team's worst run of form since a five-match losing streak under John Hart in 1998.

"This team is making steps each week and I think there were some great steps last week," Taylor told reporters.

"Obviously the results don't show that. But where we want to go and where we're trying to be as an All Black team is definitely still in sight.

"You can't ask for much more from the lads that are given an opportunity every week and it's not through lack of trying."

Though resisting wholesale changes, Foster has shaken up his front row forwards again, bringing in 24-year-old rookie Ethan de Groot and Tyrel Lomax as starting props while ditching Angus Ta'avao and George Bower.

De Groot, dropped for the Ireland series, has started only once before in his five-test career and never played at the Ellis Park fortress.

"It's going to be a hell of a challenge," he said.

"If you told me five weeks ago when I was strapping up down in Southland that I'd be starting at Ellis Park I probably would have told you to get lost."

Following the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks will head to Tokyo to play Japan on Oct. 29 before November internationals against Wales, Scotland and England, New Zealand Rugby said on Friday.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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