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Preview: 'Controlled abandon' the latest plot to overthrow mighty All Blacks

No more dice rolling for Irish coach Declan Kidney but most supporters would not be averse to a game of stuck in the mud against New Zealand.

Conor Murray and Brian O'Driscoll tackle Keiran Read.
Conor Murray and Brian O'Driscoll tackle Keiran Read.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

IT MAY HAVE appeared as a pro-Leinster bias in rugby reporting newspapers and radio stations but the IRFU had few other options.

Of the eight Irish players to face the press this week, six were from the Heineken Cup holders.

Donnacha Ryan told us that the world kept spinning after last week’s 42-10 defeat to the All Blacks and Ronan Loughney, not in this week’s match-day 22, spoke about realising a dream of sharing the pitch with Richie McCaw.

Otherwise it has been Leinster to the fore.

Throw in Eoin Reddan for Conor Murray at scrum-half and coach Declan Kidney would have been praised from Donnybrook to Dumore and everywhere in between (Leinster).

Dog days ain’t over

Kidney has appeared perplexed this week when Murray’s game has been questioned.

It is only the 23-year-old’s first full season of Test and Heineken Cup rugby, we are told.

“There’s a lot more to come from Conor” – Kidney. (©INPHO/Billy Stickland)

Murray has the coach’s backing for now but he will need more than strong defensive tackles to quieten the naysayers.

A sniping break from the base of a scrum or ruck would help. A sign that he and Jonny Sexton are on the same chapter, let alone the same page, would also do no harm.

In fairness to Murray, it was not easy being a scrum-half in green last week.

Countless Irish players were snapped back in the tackle and the All Blacks were relentless with the pace of the game.

A kick cleared to touch should not mean a breather, as Brian O’Driscoll admitted on Thursday, but the ABs did not hang around. They must employ the same ball boys and girls that work so relentlessly at the Nou Camp.

Speed – Part Two

With forwards rumbling and Aaron Smith – described by Les Kiss as ‘not Will Genia yet but close’ – whipping back quick ball last Saturday, New Zealand eviscerated the Irish with speed and cunning runs across the backline.

Sonny Bill Williams ran straight and upright, while Conrad Smith and Dan Carter called the shots. Julian Savea rollicked in with a hat-trick and Israel Dagg was happy to take the ball 15 and 20 yards back from the Irish defensive line and cause havoc with lateral runs.

Kevin McLaughlin, the Leinster blindside called up to help slow New Zealand down, admitted that the first Test was an eye-opener for many.

He told TheScore.ie, “There was definitely an element there of the lads having to step up to the speed of the game. The Super Rugby is a lot different to the RaboDirect – it is a lot faster.” He added:

The Kiwis just ran from everywhere, especially when we kicked loosely a couple of times, they were pretty unstoppable in their counter-attack.

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“We just need to be a lot tighter defensively and up to the pace of the game.”

Look to the captain

In 2005, Brian O’Driscoll led his side out onto the Jade Stadium pitch in Christchurch. He was captain of the British and Irish Lions.

His Test tenure lasted all of two minutes as he was targeted for a spear tackle by Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu. Shoulder dislocated; tour over.

The fact that he came back from such disappointment to become and even more wily, inspirational and defensively brusque means his words should never be taken lightly.

And, as he declared to the Irish Independent, Ireland can cause a shock because no-one in New Zealand ‘gives us a chance’.

“Time heals all wounds, even shoulder wounds” – O’Driscoll. (©INPHO/A. Phelps)

O’Driscoll also unleashed a sentence, and phrase, that would be bizarre if it came from the lips of George Hook or Steve Staunton.

“We’ve been written off over here already so just play with not wild abandon, but controlled abandon as such,” he declared.

Famous last word

Les Kiss was, fittingly, joined by a Leinster player, Gordon D’Arcy, for the Captain’s Run at the AMI Stadium on Friday and both men were in relaxed form.

D’Arcy commented, “Across the board in our whole team we have players that have been in tight places and they’ve won.

“A lot of those games have been with Ireland, so we know what it takes to grind out wins and to go to places where you have to get those wins.” He added:

We’re very realistic, though. It will take every ounce we have to get one of those this weekend.”

Every ounce may still not be good enough to halt an All Black side that were stunningly good last week.

Ireland may have to play their best game since they thundered into England, at the Aviva Stadium, last March just to stay on the All Black’s coat-tails.

However we will leave the final, positive word with Ireland assistant coach Les Kiss as he hopped onto the team bus outside the stadium.


*You can follow all the latest news, comments and goings on from the Irish camp by following @patmccarry on Twitter and by regularly checking in with TheScore.ie.

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