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Dan Sheehan: ‘I wasn’t born the last time New Zealand lost in this stadium’

Ireland’s young hooker is undaunted by the prospect of facing the All Blacks in their backyard.

Dan Sheehan is interviewed at Eden Park.
Dan Sheehan is interviewed at Eden Park.

DAN SHEEHAN STOOD in a corner of Eden Park in front of a group of reporters and paused before the inquisition began.

Briefly he turned to look around at the four stands, all the while imagining what they will look like tomorrow when 50,000 people have settled into their seats.

The goal he set himself at the start of the year was just to make it onto the plane for this tour. Tomorrow he will be on the pitch. “Knowing how hard it is for visiting sides to win a match in this stadium makes it special to know we are going to have a crack at them,” Sheehan said.

“We have been thinking about this game all year and are expecting a reaction from them after what happened in November. I am sure they will want revenge on us for beating them that time, so, we’ll be ready for whatever is thrown at us.”

They certainly need to be because if you cast your mind back to the Aviva Stadium in 2016 and then to the Tokyo Stadium in 2019, you will recall the fury with which the All Blacks attacked those games. If anything they invested too much energy in getting vengeance at the 2019 World Cup quarter-final leaving themselves emotionally drained by the time the semis had come around.

A backlash then can be expected, although Sheehan said: “Our motivation is at the top level as well.

“I’ve watched plenty of All Blacks games in this ground; I know all about the fact they haven’t lost in 28 years here. It is so far back that I wasn’t even born. So, that has its pressures but at the same time it is a massive opportunity for an Irish team to come over and win on New Zealand soil for the first time.”

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About the author:

Garry Doyle  / reports from Auckland

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