Saturday 3 December 2016

'Everyone had two pints so I took one' - Jack McGrath is 'thirsty' for a second victory over New Zealand

Published 16/11/2016 | 02:30

Jack McGrath after the win in Chicago
Jack McGrath after the win in Chicago
Jack McGrath Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile

One of the many lasting images from the celebratory scenes at Soldier Field was Jack McGrath beaming from ear to ear while holding a pint that was passed to him from someone in the crowd.

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"I'll take that!" McGrath wrote as the caption of a photo he posted on Twitter, and he would certainly take it again if Ireland seal another famous win on Saturday.

Cian Healy's performance against Canada kept the pressure on his Leinster team-mate but McGrath remains the form loosehead in the country and is almost certain to keep hold of the No 1 jersey against New Zealand.

"I actually didn't grab it, some fella handed it to me," McGrath laughed when asked how a pint managed to end up in his hands at full time in Chicago.

"Some fella handed it to me and I was glad to have it - I was fairly thirsty after that! It was a Heineken, but everyone in the crowd had two pints in their hand so I just took one."

All week, the narrative coming from the Ireland camp has been about backing up the historic win and, having gotten a taste for it, McGrath is hungry for a second victory over the back-to-back world champions.

"A lot of things happen once-off," McGrath maintained.

"But if you do it for two in a row, that's when people sit up and listen, and if we want to be taken seriously as an Irish team and as a nation then we have to step up on Saturday and back up what we did in Chicago.

"Probably the monkey is off our back but when you've a win like that you want to win again and, for us as a group, it's an area that we feel really good about, that we can go ahead and go for two from two against that group of players because we've done it before.

"It was a really confidence-boosting thing, especially with the amount of young guys on the team, and you'd have to feel great for the guys who have been there for 10-12 years, plugging away - the likes of Rory (Best) being the first Irish captain to ever captain a winning team against the All Blacks is a huge thing. Personally, I just want more and more of that."

Ireland exposed plenty of frailties in New Zealand's game-plan but it is almost impossible to imagine them being as sloppy in their execution this weekend.

"For us, we showed they're still human, they made mistakes when they were put under pressure," McGrath said.

"Their bread and butter is their silky skills, so this weekend their skills are going to be 10 out of 10.

"For us to go after them and attack them, we can't rest on our laurels and let them attack us. We're at home, we are in front of our families.

"It is going to be an emotional day. It is going to be a special day, not many people get to play the All Blacks two out of three weeks and I think it is a huge task for us. The squad that we have is well able for it."

Irish Independent

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