Beaten 19-42 in Auckland, Ireland headed to Dunedin in midweek preparing to play in a stadium Ireland coach Andy Farrell should be the model for communities all over the world.
It assured a dry, fast surface and had an outstanding atmosphere and he was looking forward to refamiliarising himself with the complex.
While many of his players haven’t experienced the Forsyth Barr Stadium, they have been thinking hard about how they can level the series against the All Blacks.
Midfield back Robbie Henshaw said: “We have to be more clinical, but it is all to play for. It is really about going hard for it this week, and everyone stepping up.”
Ireland had pressed the panic button during a 10-minute All Blacks assault at the end of the first half.
“We just needed to stay calm and not be too frantic. We got that wrong. We were not calm.
“We didn’t action those words, and we had that conversation this week. This Saturday we need to be calmer and clinical in terms of getting out of our own half, because they don’t play a lot in their own half,” Henshaw said.
The All Blacks turned the screw, turning Ireland around by utilising their effective kicking game.
“We wanted to be a team that fired a shot,” he said.
They wanted to replicate the style that worked in their 29-20 defeat of the All Blacks in Dublin last November, and into the Six Nations.
“When we get that right, it was great to watch.
“But, it is about seeing what the situation is, what the position of the game is. Do we slow it down, and pin them into a corner? It is all a decision-making process,” he said.
There was an awareness that perfection was not always possible.
“We know these guys are top-class players, some of the best in the world and they will have their good patches in the game. We just need to accept that. We do the best we can,” he said.
Ireland were conscious that on the road their record is less impressive than it is at home. Every team playing at home had a different mentality, and the All Blacks were the same.
“Still, I didn’t think being up against the All Blacks in Eden Park was an excuse for us. We were going to do a job, and starting that first 20 minutes, it definitely felt good. We were humming,” he said.
But the way the All Blacks scored 28 unanswered points to go to halftime 28-5 up was a reminder of the need to be able to cope with momentum swings.
“It is a mental thing as well that we need to get right, and be ready for, knowing that away games are a different kettle of fish.
“Touring too is different. This is a lot of guys’ first tour. I was here in 2017 [with the British & Irish Lions], and I knew what I had to be ready for,” he said.