Tuesday 17 September 2019

'They were unbreakable' - praise floods in for 'fantastic' winners

Green giants: Johnny Sexton after the match. Photos: Sportsfile/Douglas O’Connor
Green giants: Johnny Sexton after the match. Photos: Sportsfile/Douglas O’Connor
Sorcha O'Connor

Sorcha O'Connor

The 16-9 win over New Zealand didn't land them as number one in the world - but after their display on Saturday night, many have been forced to sit up and notice the prestige of the Irish team could lead them to the top spot.

Some already believed they had earned that position.

Gregor Paul, sports writer with the 'New Zealand Herald' wrote: "Ireland can now claim to be the best team in the world after producing a stunning performance that was brave, creative and relentless.

"They deserved the win and with it, they deserve to be seen as world rugby's best team even if the rankings don't agree.

"They were unbreakable. They were so resolute that you have to wonder what was in each and every one of their engines."

Meanwhile, Irish soccer manager Martin O'Neill sang the praises of the side.

"The rugby team are brilliant. It's the strongest Irish side I've ever known since I was growing up," he admitted.

"No longer these days do you play international rugby and fade with 20 minutes to go. The lads are very strong. It's a totally different sport. Yesterday was fantastic, absolutely fantastic.

"To beat the All Blacks is a major confidence booster. The roars of the lads who were watching it cheering them on was terrific.

"It was a fantastic win and it sets them up nicely for the World Cup."

However, the World Cup is still a long way off, and the team's eyes are only focused on their next test, against the USA.

Scrum-half Luke McGrath, who came on to replace Kieran Marmion, said it was a great day but they have "a lot of work to do" to cement their superiority over the All Blacks.

"It's big for us to win, but it's also great for us that we've still got them to chase," said McGrath.

"New Zealand are so consistent all the time, and that's the challenge we need to get to," he added.

"We were a little bit off last week so we knew we needed a big performance this week, and that's the exciting thing, the potential, the belief with a win like that.

"It's great to move forward with that and prepare for another big game against the USA."

Irish Independent

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