'Once you've beaten them once the monkey is off the back and it becomes the norm'
Ronan O’Gara has said that Saturday’s meeting between the All Blacks and Ireland at Eden Park will be “a different intensity to a game that Irish players have played in a long, long time,” but says the hosts are no longer on the pedestal they once were.
Ireland go into the weekend’s clash with a record of three wins and two losses against the All Blacks in their last five encounters, having only recorded their first ever victory over them in Chicago in 2016. That victory came after O’Gara had retired, and the former Ireland No.10 has said that the “stigma about having them up on a pedestal” which might have existed during his playing days is no longer there.
While that may be the case, Ireland are yet to beat the All Blacks on New Zealand soil, having last toured there in 2012. O’Gara started on the bench in all three Tests of that tour, and came agonisingly close to beating the then world champions in Christchurch, only to be denied by a late Dan Carter drop goal and then lose 60-0 the week later in Hamilton.
Though Andy Farrell’s side are maybe in the best position to earn their first ever victory over the All Blacks in New Zealand, the Munster great has warned his compatriots of what awaits them in New Zealand, having not only played there plenty of times during his career but having coached the Crusaders for two years between 2018 and 2019.
“I think what’s been established since Chicago is that once you’ve beaten them once the monkey is off the back and it becomes the norm, it’s he same as winning European cups,” the Test centurion said, who was talking in association with Benetti Menswear.
“What’s blatantly abundant nowadays is that the stigma about having them up on a pedestal isn’t there anymore, but at the same time, you have to be very, very aware of where you’re going into. You’re going into a nation that loves their rugby. All the kids boys and girls want to be Black Ferns or All Blacks and that becomes very, very powerful and you’ll see that Saturday. It’ll be a different intensity to a game that Irish players have played in a long, long time.
“Because the one thing about New Zealand is that they’ll go hard for 80 minutes and they won’t stop. That’s not to say, Ireland can’t dominate them or cannot stay with them. It’s just important for people who don’t understand that, there’ll be waves and waves of attack by New Zealand on Saturday, but how we stop them doing that is by controlling the ball.”
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