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Dublin: 5°C Tuesday 26 January 2021

Paul O'Connell: We have the talent to beat the All Blacks

The Ireland captain has been backed up by head coach Joe Schmidt who says it will take an ‘incredible performance’.

O'Connell believes his players are good enough to win.
O'Connell believes his players are good enough to win.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

IRELAND CAPTAIN PAUL O’Connell says his side have the ability to beat the All Blacks on Sunday.

The Munster lock has encountered defeat against New Zealand too many times before to be getting ahead of himself, but he says there is always a chance of upsetting the odds. The fact that Jonny Sexton, Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney are all fit to start means Ireland have a team full of experience and talent.

O’Connell believes that if every one of the Irish players plays to their full potential, the quality is there to beat the world’s best team.

I think when you look at the talent we have in our team, we certainly can. That’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves all week and trying to put ourselves in the position to do that. There were defensive things from Samoa and Australia which needed to be addressed.

“They were addressed early on in the week. We didn’t start as accurately as we would have liked and when you’re playing against these Southern Hemisphere teams, you need to get all the little things right.

“We need to do that this weekend, and if we do that and players produce their best form, certainly we can win.”

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt backed up his captain’s sentiments at this afternoon’s team announcement, admitting that the All Blacks are an exceptional team but pointing out that Ireland will always have a chance.

“I do believe that in any two-horse race there are no certainties. I think it would take an incredible performance, because the All Blacks are proving very resilient, as well as a class side. When they’ve come under pressure, they’ve overcome that pressure.

“I think it was highly evident in the last couple of weeks, but also in South Africa in round six of the Rugby Championship. When you’re down to 14 men and down by six points, that you can score two converted tries and win by eight.

“That’s pretty exceptional. It’s a clear sign of the resilience and self-belief they have. We have to have self-belief because I don’t think you can win if you don’t have self-belief.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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