New Zealand's Foster not panicking after France opening loss

Ian Foster (R) after the loss to New Zealand (FRANCK FIFE)
Ian Foster (R) after the loss to New Zealand (FRANCK FIFE)

New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said Saturday he remained confident of his side's chances at the Rugby World Cup despite the 27-13 loss to hosts France in the opening match.

For the three-time winners of the World Cup, the defeat was their first ever in the pool phase of the tournament.

"I don't think we have to rebuild," Foster told reporters.

"In the past we've won all our pool games and not won the tournament.

"Our goal is to win this tournament," he added, with New Zealand having won the inaugural World Cup in 1987, before claiming back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2015.

Minutes before the game, captain Sam Cane was ruled out with a back issue which he suffered in training on Thursday.

"He felt his back get strained so he was pretty stiff last night," the 58-year-old Foster said.

"We had a look at him late morning and made a decision to pull.

"He was moving well tonight but because we didn't have real clear information on how bad the back was, we pulled him," he added.

A big turning point at the Stade de France was a second-half yellow card for winger Will Jordan for taking out Les Bleus full-back Thomas Ramos in the air.

Minutes after returning from the sin bin Jordan was penalised for a similar incident, but avoided a red card.

Ramos then kicked the resulting three points to give his side a 19-13 lead with a quarter of an hour to play.

"Will was a bit clumsy with aerial things and the second hurt us," Foster said.

"We have to get more efficient in the air."

Another negative element of the All Blacks' performance was at set-piece with France's New Zealand-born tight-head prop Uini Atonio getting the upper hand over Ethan de Groot.

"I know we conceded some scrum penalties and we need to paint better pictures for the referee," Foster said.

"We'll chase that up with the officials."

Next up for Foster's side is Namibia in Toulouse on Friday, before also facing Italy and Uruguay in the pool stage.

New Zealand will be without winger Emoni Narawa for the remainder of the competition due to a back injury.

Foster said he was considering replacing Narawa with a back-rower as lock Tupou Vaa'i covered at flanker against France.

"We'll be bringing someone else in," Foster said.

"Don't be surprised if it's a loose forward."