- All Blacks coach Ian Foster's week from hell delivered an ironic twist as a victory over the Boks now silences some of the vitriol directed at him this week.
- While he noted the personal attacks against him, he was more worried about the discourse on his players and was satisfied with their response.
- His job might still be on the line, but he now hopes there's some perspective.
Ian Foster's much-maligned tenure as All Blacks coach delivered another twist as his troops' excellent victory over the Springboks at Ellis Park on Saturday comes after a week where his axing seemed a done deal.
The 57-year-old had to endure a torrid time over the past few days, with criticism over him presiding over a three-match losing streak - and a broader sequence of five losses from six - eventually degenerating into personal attacks.
Yet, while seemingly everyone outside of the squad was baying for blood, the All Blacks stuck to their guns, channelled their hurt positively and, at least temporarily, silenced detractors.
"The stress from this week has been really good to me. I think I lost about a kilo. And maybe in the next few weeks, I might lose a few more," Foster said in a wry tone.
"Look, it comes with the job. It has been pretty vicious, particularly from our New Zealand media. They have high expectations of us and they've made that loud and clear.
"They've come strong at me as a person."
However, the former Chiefs flyhalf was more concerned about what that level of vitriol was saying about his players.
"Some of them even called some of our selections 'pop-guns', which I felt was quite insulting to players who give everything to play for their nation," he said.
"That pressure has been strong, but it doesn't change the fact that adversity is the best teacher for character."
His captain, Sam Cane, has been in a similar boat over the past few weeks, with many questioning his leadership based on the perception that his place in the team was on wonky ground.
"This victory means a lot," said the flanker.
"This last while has been tough, so we circled the wagons a bit and focused internally. There's never been a question about the level of care and work ethic - that's been right up there.
"To be able to produce that composure in a hostile environment like this game, speaks highly of the group."
Whether the victory is enough for Foster to save his job is still an open question, but he hopes the achievement provides some perspective.
"It's hard to win all the time. If everyone knew the formula, we'd be doing it all the time," he said.
"When you look at long-term success, it often starts at a low point. We lost three in a row and it hurts. But we've seen signs of our combativeness and growth.
"There are some new boys and combinations take time to gel, but people don't have patience and that's understandable. But that frustration doesn't mean much to us inside the group. We just pull together and work hard."