Monday 19 March 2018

Reddan insists 'belief' Ireland's key weapon

Hugh Farrelly

TOMORROW, Eoin Reddan gets a shot at redemption and he is determined to take it.

Two weeks ago, Reddan was involved in two plays that led to South African tries and, ultimately, their victory. For the first, Reddan, under pressure running back on to bad line-out possession, gave an intercept pass to Juan Smith, who raced 65 metres for the try. For the second, the scrum-half was drawn into Tommy Bowe's defensive zone, leaving a gap for Gio Aplon to exploit.

A tough day by any standards, but Reddan has shown his mental resolve during his time with Wasps and Leinster and "belief" was the word that kept cropping up as he talked about repaying the faith shown in him by Ireland coach Declan Kidney.

"I've been lucky enough to have been involved with three very successful teams in Munster, Leinster and Wasps and there are different ways of doing things, but the core thing with everyone is belief," said Reddan.

"Belief that you can do things that people tell you you can't do. You walk into a media conference and everyone will tell you that you haven't got a hope, and the belief within the squad is to prove people wrong and push through.

"That's individually and collectively within the squad, that's the key thing and I think that's what you'll see this weekend, an individual and collective desire -- probably so we can sit down and look at ourselves in the mirror on Saturday night.

"You want to go out and play for Ireland and be as proud as you possibly can to put that jersey on you and give a performance that the jersey deserves and then you can look at yourself in the mirror on Saturday night," he added.

"Of course, collectively, you have to believe that you can do it, otherwise it won't happen. It's not something that from the outside you would walk in and notice in a place, but I've been in three different clubs who have all won Heineken Cups and they all had that belief to be individually and collectively better.

"We've got guys who've won a Triple Crown, went on, won a Heineken Cup, went on and were brilliant down on the Lions tour, so that's individual desire. Winning a Triple Crown didn't quench it, winning a Heineken Cup didn't quench it.

"Things go up and down, but if you have that (belief) constantly you've a chance always of succeeding and being a winning team."

Given that 14 of the Ireland team started in the 21-23 defeat to South Africa, that is the performance most relevant to tomorrow's contest and Reddan knows exactly what needs to improve against the All Blacks.

"Interceptions would be a good one (to improve)," he reflected. "As a team, we obviously have things to improve on, we've sat down and had a look at a few things and I think we found it hard to get going, this week I think we're in a better position to do that.

"They (South Africa) were very competitive, in the scrum, the breakdown and in the line-out and those three things need to be better this week. As well as that, in the backline we turned over a bit of ball as well, so when you add up those four things, backs dropping the ball, scrums and line-outs and rucks, it was very hard to get going.

"If the problems in those areas were massive it would be a big problem, but if they are small little things then you can fix them, you know a guy dropping the ball, you can fix that, me giving an interception, you can fix that and all of a sudden it's a different game.


"There is a lot we can improve on but, coming into the series, we've done a lot of work and we are going into Saturday with a positive attitude."

All week, the Irish players have been reminded how they have never beaten the All Blacks in 105 years and 23 attempts and they go into tomorrow's match as massive underdogs. However, rather than be cowed by the ready dismissals of Ireland's chances, Reddan said the team are energised by it.

"That only feeds your want. When you take a few knocks, you can go down but everyone in that dressing-room goes up. When you get knocked, the effort is there to come back stronger.

"It's irrelevant really what everyone thinks, even if you were telling us we were going to win we'd be going 'lads it doesn't matter what anyone thinks'.

"So, it's not affecting us, at the end of the day we're underdogs against a good side, have we been in that position before? Yes. Have we won before? Yes. So that's the task facing us this week."

Irish Independent

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