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All Blacks confident, not arrogant

Photosport

Sportal.co.nz     17 Jun 2006     Photosport

Despite Ireland coming within inches of taking an historic victory in the first Test at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton last week, the All Blacks have made only three changes to their starting line-up.

O'Driscoll believes the side picked to square off against his at Eden Park on Saturday night is as strong as any New Zealand team he has seen.

"They pull on a black jersey and they go as hard as if it was the World Cup final when they are playing any side in the world," he said.

"You can look at it any way you like but Test rugby is Test rugby. It's hard, it's physical and it's honest."

The world-class centre also said he felt there was a degree of respect for Ireland from the All Blacks, especially after Saturday's performance.

"I think that's what you get when you get Ireland playing against the All Blacks," he said.

"I think there's always a fine line between arrogance and confidence and I think, certainly more often than not, they have it down to a tee.

"There's no harm in being a bit arrogant on the pitch but once you step off the pitch you respect your opponents and I think they have always done that."

Meanwhile, Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan, speaking at the team's final press conference before the Test, said he believed his side was well prepared and a good chance to secure its first victory over the All Blacks.

"I'd like to think that in most weeks leading up to a Test, by the Friday you are where you would like to be," he said.

"I would like to say yes [we are prepared] but we won't know until tomorrow night for sure."

O'Sullivan refused to discuss whether he felt the All Blacks had lacked respect and said he had preferred to focus on preparing his own side for the match.

"The game is going ahead tomorrow night at half past seven, it's going to be a Test game and we are going to have to play bloody well to win it," he said.