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Ian Foster has survived his performance review and will coach the All Blacks through to next year’s World Cup. Ending months of uncertainty, New Zealand Rugby on Wednesday backed the under-fire coach to stay on in the job.

The vote of confidence comes after the All Blacks’ gutsy 35-23 win over world champions South Africa at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park on Saturday. NZR board chair Stewart Mitchell said the win was “magnificent” before declaring Foster’s position safe.

“[The board] have unanimously agreed they have absolute confidence that Ian and this coaching group are the right people to lead the All Blacks through to the World Cup,” Mitchell said. “This has been privately and publicly validated by our players and in various conversations within our high performance team.”

The decision is contrary to expectations in much of New Zealand’s media, which had the axe out for Foster after three straight Test defeats. New Zealand lost a home series for the first time in almost three decades, to Ireland, and were belted in their opening Rugby Championship clash with the Springboks earlier this month.

However, the form reversal looks to have saved Foster, who is contracted through to next year’s tournament in France.

“Some of the steps we’ve seen in recent weeks give us a huge amount of confidence going forward,” NZR chief executive Mark Robinson told reporters. “We’ve had some really fantastic conversations with [Foster] … We are backing [the staff] through to the World Cup.“

Foster, sitting alongside Robinson, said he was delighted with the “strong” endorsement from the CEO and the NZR board.

“I just want to remind people it’s a privilege to be in this job … I believe in the plan I’ve got and believe we’ve got great support behind us,” he said.

Stewart said this week’s review of the coaching position was long-scheduled, and not in response to mounting concerns over the All Blacks performance.

The losses dropped the three-time World Cup winners to fifth in the world rugby standings, their worst-ever ranking.