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Ireland 'like the All Blacks from some years ago' says Italy's head coach

By Ben Smith
Dan Sheehan of Ireland is congratulated by team mates after scoring his try of the match during the Ireland V Italy, Six Nations rugby union match at Aviva Stadium on February 11, 2024, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Italy’s Argentinian head coach Gonzalo Quesada has compared the current day Ireland side to “the All Blacks of old” after their 36-0 win in Dublin.

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The former Pumas flyhalf played New Zealand four times during his playing career, twice in 1997 and twice in 2001.

His first outing against the All Blacks was a 97-0 defeat at Athletic Park in Wellington during Carlos Spencer’s debut. In his last, Argentina just fell short of a historic first-ever win when an injury time try stole a 24-20 win in Buenos Aires.

Ireland notched their 19th win from their last 20 Tests against the Azzurri, confirming their status as favourites for back-to-back Six Nations titles and Grand Slams.

After pushing England last week in round one, Italy were essentially out of contention by half-time at 19-0 as Ireland put on three tries.

Quesada said the first half performance was All Blacks-like for the accuracy and efficiency Ireland showed at set-piece.

“They didn’t need to do anything special, just go through their system, their attack,” he said post-match.

“They were always on the front foot and after several phases we were kind of waiting for them. It was not always like that, sometimes we defended better.

“The first-half was a bit different to the second but when we had that 19 points of difference it was like the All Blacks from some years ago when they do their basics and they had a hundred per cent from their scrum and their lineout and at high balls.

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“They were also running their rucks in attack and defence with extreme efficiency so there was nothing we didn’t expect in terms of level of performance.

“They did what we know they can do. The frustration is more that we didn’t put a bit more pressure on them.”

Ireland will resume their Six Nations campaign in a fortnight against Wales at home, while Italy host a round three clash with Scotland.

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