Ireland ‘up’ for rare shot at history

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Irish Times rugby writer Gerry Thornley said there was plenty of history to show that Ireland teams did not handle the last week of southern tours at all well.

 

That was represented by the 60-0 loss suffered in New Zealand in 2012, a week after they had pushed the All Blacks close.

 

But that loss proved a watershed for Ireland and their results have been much better since then, most notably achieving a 2-1 series win in Australia in 2018.

 

"Ireland squads are now better managed, better coached, are stronger mentally, are more professional and have more strength in depth," he said.

 

"Psychologically, once more they have proven themselves capable of beating one of the big three in the southern hemisphere at the end of a long, hard campaign and are competitive in a three-Test series abroad.

 

"Emotionally and mentally, no less than last week, they are not feeling remotely weary or sorry for themselves.

 

 

"The sense of foreboding before the last Test in the 2000s and 2010s has long since gone," he said.

 

Ireland would go into Saturday's finale with a settled side.

 

However, Thornley added it was one thing to win a Test against the All Blacks in New Zealand, but it was another to secure a series win.

 

"The British & Irish Lions have managed just one series win, and one drawn series, in 12 attempts in New Zealand. In six series against the All Blacks in New Zealand, South Africa drew the first in 1921 and won the second in 1937, but have lost the four series in New Zealand since then – in 1956, 1965, 1981 and 1994," he said.

 

Meanwhile, England have yet to record a series win in New Zealand while France had managed one series in 10 attempts.

 

"All of which rather underlines what a wonderful shot at history next Saturday morning is for this Irish team, one that may never come their way, or anyone else's, ever again.

 

"But, even if this team returns with just one win from the three Tests, they will have been imbued with a real belief that despite Ireland's most brutish World Cup draw ever, they can break through that quarter final glass ceiling and maybe achieve something even more special," he said.

 

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