Ian Foster has opened up on the expectations of being All Blacks head coach, admitting while it can be tough, the pressure is what he loves most.
Foster took over the All Blacks at the conclusion of last year's Rugby World Cup, after assisting Steve Hansen for eight years.
His first test in the lead role was two weeks ago, when the All Blacks drew 16-16 with the Wallabies in Wellington in their Bledisloe Cup opener.
It was far from an ideal start for Foster, who somewhat struggled to get public backing during his appointment, with Crusaders coach Scott Robertson a clear favourite.
Speaking on the Devlin Radio Show, Foster admitted feeling some pressure the week following when the All Blacks were preparing for the second test at Eden Park.
But he said it was always expected.
"It's what I imagined it to be, it's what you sign up for as an All Blacks coach, you sign up for the ups and the downs in terms of public opinion so that's not really a surprise," Foster said.
"There's been so much anticipation around the All Blacks playing this year and when we put a performance on in Wellington that we weren't that proud of, it certainly did ramp up the pressure on the team and on myself.
"You can explain it to people but when you're actually in the middle of it and you think inside that we don't feel like we're that far away, but suddenly everyone around us is panicking, it does sort of challenge you.
"Did it surprise me? No, it didn't, but it's certainly there ... it's part of the job, it is what it is but also partly why I love it."
After their opening draw, the All Blacks responded in style with a 27-7 win over the Wallabies at Eden Park, and Foster revealed preparing for must-win games can actually be easier.
"We want to reply with our own performance anyway so inside the camp we're really focused and it does seem to intensify the preparation and when you get the external stuff going on it kind of just makes it even easier to get a really sharp focus in your mind," he said.
The All Blacks depart to Australia tomorrow in preparation for the third Bledisloe Cup test in Sydney next Saturday.
Foster was quizzed on positional selections, including the ongoing debate on where to play Beauden Barrett.
In the first two games, Barrett played at fullback with Richie Mo'unga at 10 - the dual-playmaker tactic first implemented by Hansen.
When asked where he saw Barrett long-term, Foster said he'll be moved around.
"I've always said that Beaudy, in my mind, is a 10 who can play 15 and that hasn't changed and it's a massive compliment to him because not every 10 can play 15 the way he plays it," he said.
"He's had a bit of a limited time with us pre-season, around the birth of his baby which was pretty special, so we've felt that the easiest way for our team is to bring him back in the combination we used quite a bit last year and we feel that that's worked really well.
"That doesn't mean that we [don't] know Beaudy wants to play 10 and we're also keen for him to play 10 at some point soon. No one's got a mortgage on a jersey and we've got other people who want to play 15, so you will see that unfold."