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Independent.ie

Friday 2 December 2016

'I'll be astonished if Ireland win in November. My money is on the All-Blacks' - Irish rugby legend Tony Ward

Published 22/09/2016 | 16:45

Ireland rugby legend Tony Ward
Ireland rugby legend Tony Ward

Irish rugby legend Tony Ward said he'll be “astonished” if Ireland beats the All-Blacks in November.

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“I believe every game we play, we can always win. Can we beat the All-Blacks, yes. Can they do it in Chicago on November 4, yes they can but I don't believe they will because right now New Zealand are on a different level to everyone else and I'll be astonished if we do. My money is on the All-Blacks,” he told Independent.ie.

Ward said he completely disagrees with the residency rule, which allows players to play for a country they have no affiliation with after playing in the country for three years.

“It's too short. Even five years should be the minimum the international rugby board should introduce. I hate the fact that a guy can sign a contract to play for a country that's not even your adopted country. Five years I'd take but preferably not at all.”

Ward said the IRFU policy of prioritising Irish players is too stringent as Ruan Pianaar is being forced to leave Ulster.

“I think they should be dealt with in a case by case basis. In Ruan Pienaar’s case, I know what it took for Ruan to come here. It was a big culture change to come and live in Belfast and to play for Ulster rugby giving where he had been brought up in South Africa. He has won himself over to the people on and off the field. That's where I think it comes in because he has become such a key figure.”

He said the players who can make a breakthrough for Ireland include Joey Carberry, Paddy Jackson and Josh Van See Flier.

“There are lots of new players coming through but I can't see many changes being made to the team before the November game,” said Ward.

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