All Blacks in awe of ‘iconic’ St James’ Park

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster has opened up on how excited the squad are to play in Newcastle this weekend.

St James' Park will be the venue for New Zealand's final pool match against Tonga.

"It's an outstanding ground," Foster enthused.

"For most us it's our first time here and to drive in through the city and to see it on top of the skyline and to come inside, it's been awesome. It's very much an iconic stadium for us Kiwis."

The defending champions have opted for a strong side to face Tonga, with Richie McCaw a notable absentee.

Quizzed if he and Steve Hansen had their first XV in mind for the quarter-finals, Foster said that no final call had been made until after Friday's game.

He said: "We've got a plan but we'll take this Tonga game first and foremost. We'll make that decision at the weekend. We've got a plan with the ability to adapt."

New Zealand are expected to face one of France or Ireland, but Foster has no preference, for now, about who the All Blacks would want to play in the last eight.

"We have enough to worry about ourselves without worrying about things we can't control," said Foster.

"Yes, we'll spend energy looking at both teams but who we want to play? We'll just wait and see."