Under-fire All Blacks Foster and Cane: What backers, critics say

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New Zealand coach Ian Foster and captain and loose forward Sam Cane are under severe pressure ahead of a Rugby Championship clash with arch foes South Africa on Saturday after four losses in five Tests.

Speculation is rife that defeats by the Springboks in Mbombela on Saturday and in Johannesburg on August 13 would lead to Foster being sacked and Cane surrendering the captaincy.

Here, AFP Sport covers the opinions of the embattled pair, officials, former Test stars and an All Blacks supporter:

Foster

"I'm strong, I'm resilient. I believe I have a good feel with the players, I'm strategic and I'm also accountable."

-- Foster speaking at a press conference before travelling to South Africa

"There is a huge amount of work to do. Our focus now is to work with Ian and his team to understand thoroughly what is needed to improve performances."

-- New Zealand Rugby chief executive Mark Robinson

"Have they (All Blacks) the right head coach? We were outcoached without question (in home series against Ireland)."

-- Former New Zealand captain and hooker Sean Fitzpatrick

"A coaching change must now be considered, at the very least. Ian Foster's hold on his job must be tenuous at best."

-- Senior New Zealand commentator Marc Hinton

"Some people need to swallow their pride and say this appointment (Foster) was a huge mistake. Make the change, make it quickly and start preparing properly for (the World Cup) next year."

-- An All Blacks supporter on official fanpage

"If he (Foster) lost both (matches against South Africa), it would be really hard, really difficult (to keep his job)."

-- TV analyst and former All Blacks wing Jeff Wilson

"I felt he (Foster) needed a day or so to work out what he wanted to say and not just be a punching bag for the media who, let us be clear, wanted blood."

-- All Blacks official Jo Malcolm explaining delay in holding a press conference after Ireland series

"(Foster) is a very good coach."

-- Predecessor Steve Hansen supports incumbent

Cane

"Everyone is getting into Sam about his captaincy. I remember in 2007 Richie McCaw was the worst captain we ever had. He went on to be the best, and only one to lift the World Cup twice."

-- Hansen defends Cane

"Sam Cane may be a fine leader of rugby players, but he is not good enough to play for the All Blacks. He makes his share of tackles but none of them are destructive."

-- Columnist and former England fly-half Stuart Barnes

"I have faith in Sam Cane (as captain)."

-- Foster backs decision to retain flanker as skipper

"We are bloody sorry. We could not put the performance out there that you guys deserved."

-- Cane apologises to supporters after series-losing third Test defeat by Ireland in Wellington

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