New All Blacks coach Ian Foster is pleading with rugby bosses to keep the rivalry with South Africa alive.
Reports out of the United Kingdom have suggested that the Springboks are set to quit the Rugby Championship to join an extended Six Nations competition, potentially impacting the All Blacks' future showdowns against their greatest rivals.
Foster told Newstalk ZB's Martin Devlin any season without matches against the Springboks would be hugely disappointing.
"My initial reaction was thank goodness it was written in an English newspaper because I don't believe most of that stuff," Foster said.
"There's been a little bit of smoke around this for a while – the reality is our board has to make sure it has a strong relationship with South Africa and is talking, which I know they have been.
"If you take the politics out of it I can't imagine an All Black year not playing the South Africans. If you just think about it, historically they are our greatest foe.
"We need them in our competition, they are a fantastic group of people, fantastic country, and we need them to play here. We know they are committed to do that for the next cycle, we've just got to make sure we've got a working relationship with them and deal with things."
Foster said forces beyond South African rugby control may be forcing them to contemplate a move they don't want to make.
"One thing we can't solve is the economy there and I don't know if South Africa would really want to go north but they've got other pressures which are playing with their game," he said.
In contemplating the possibility of an expanded tour to South Africa, Foster said "it would be special".
"Any visit over there in a black jersey is special, simply because of the respect we have for them. It must continue," he said.
Foster was also questioned about what position he favoured for star back Beauden Barrett, who was shifted from No 10 to fullback for the ill-fated World Cup campaign last year.
Foster said: "He's a world class 10, I love him at 10.
"We played him at 15 for a couple of reasons, one was the form of Richie (Mo'unga) and he made that decision reasonably easy. We know that we had a gameplan that would ensure both were heavily involved in the game. Overall I felt it worked really well.
"I know we lost the semifinal – the fact is Beauden touched the ball as much as he would normally do.
"But we want to see form on the park now. In Beauden's case he is coming back late, he'll come back humming, he's really excited; he'll play at No 10 for the Blues, and let's see what happens.
"Either way I want a game which he's heavily involved in."
On his controversial selection as All Black coach over the popular Crusaders triple title winner Scott Robertson, Foster said: "I've had nothing but support over the past few months.
"I know that support won't come from everyone at a personal level, but I hope that it comes for the team at a 100 per cent level."