Ferris: We still believe
Published 17/11/2010 | 15:22
Stephen Ferris insists Ireland are convinced they can make history against New Zealand to salvage the pride battered by a miserable year.
The Aviva Stadium will host the 24th meeting between the rivals on Saturday in a fixture that has been unkind to Ireland since it was first contested in 1905.
A solitary draw in 1973 is the only time they have avoided finishing on the losing side against the grand slam-chasing All Blacks.
England and Scotland have already fallen to the Tri-Nations champions, who are 1/20 favourites to continue their victory march through Dublin.
In contrast, Ireland have struggled alarmingly this year, losing seven out of 11 matches and looking unconvincing in last Saturday's 20-10 win against Samoa.
But Ferris, the powerful Ulster back row, believes a few minor adjustments will see the tide turn.
"We believe we can play New Zealand week in, week out and beat them," he said.
"That's the spirit of the Irish team. We have proved we are a world class team over the last couple of years.
"We have a few results in the last few months that haven't gone our way.
"We just need to beat somebody like New Zealand to show the world we are capable of mixing it with the best.
"This Ireland team has come a lot further in the past two years.
"We just need to hold onto the ball and get our set-piece firing, then we are a completely different side."
Ireland have faced plenty of criticism in response to a slump in form that is difficult to explain.
So far this month their play has lacked conviction, their set piece has misfired and their front five has struggled, yet their overall decline still remains baffling.
It would take an amazing upset for New Zealand to be humbled, leaving them desperately needing to beat Argentina to escape an appalling autumn.
Ferris, however, believes they have not been given sufficient credit for what they have achieved this autumn.
"I definitely think there has been a lot of negativity. Some of it I don't think is right," he said.
"We were beaten by a couple of points by South Africa, the world champions, and it was difficult game against Samoa.
"We hit the post with a conversion to draw with South Africa and gave away an intercept try.
"We weren't that far away from beating the world champions.
"If you beat Samoa by 50 points, everybody thinks that you should have beaten them by 60. If we get a win this weekend we'd be asked the question next week, 'Is there much positively around the camp?' That's the way it goes.
"It was a very difficult game against Samoa in really difficult conditions but we got back on the winning track.
"Hopefully we can get another win this weekend. It's all about results.
"If we get the right result it will be completely different coming into Argentina."
The team's obvious lack of confidence has been a talking point this week, but Ferris sticks to the party line.
"Personally, I'm feeling great. We've been great as a team over the last couple of years. Everybody has stuck together," he said.