Sport Rugby

Thursday 21 September 2017

Ireland must 'front up' to stand chance – Lomu

David Kelly

David Kelly

Jonah Lomu insists that Ireland can't afford a repeat of last week's below-par display and must "front up" against New Zealand on Sunday to have any chance of ditching their winless streak against the visitors.

"Everybody has got a shot," said Lomu, who scored three tries in four winning appearances against the Irish between 1995 and 2002.

"Especially when you have a guy like Brian O'Driscoll in the team. You've got to front up. If Ireland don't front up, it's going to be a long day at the office. I was a bit disappointed in Ireland against Australia. Australia played well, but the Irish boys played well under par, especially with the strength in your forward pack."

Lomu believes the All Blacks can only reflect on a good year if they maintain their perfect record for 2013 this weekend.

"They have to win on Sunday or else it won't be anything close to a perfect year," he said. "They've been very special to watch. It's been exciting to watch the growth and depth in New Zealand rugby – especially bearing in mind they're building towards 2015.

"That's the thing about New Zealand – if someone gets injured, someone else can step in."

As for retaining the Webb Ellis Cup that McCaw handed back to the IRB in Dublin this week, Lomu counsels caution. "There's a lot of rugby to be played between now and then," he warned.

With Ireland struggling to fill gaping holes on the wing this weekend, they could do with someone of Shane Horgan's vintage to stem the All Black tide and Lomu recalls one of those rare species – a player who managed to, at least occasionally, shackle the great Kiwi.

"He's a great mate, Shane Horgan," said Lomu. "He was very strong and I always looked forward to marking him. We matched up quite well and I always knew it would be a physical challenge."

An Audience with Jonah Lomu takes place in the Clyde Court Hotel, Dublin this Sunday and Thomond Park on Monday. Details at jonahlomu.com

* Don't miss tomorrow's Irish Independent for exclusive Jonah Lomu interview

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