Sport Rugby

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Hugh Farrelly: Ireland prepare for emotional occasion in Saturday's second Test at Christchurch

The All Blacks link arms as they sing the national anthem. Photo: Reuters
The All Blacks link arms as they sing the national anthem. Photo: Reuters

Hugh Farrelly

IRELAND are preparing for an emotional occasion in Saturday’s second Test at Christchurch, the first international to be played in the southern city since last year’s devastating earthquake.

Following last weekend’s 42-10, five-try hammering of the Irish in Eden Park, the All Blacks have vowed to raise their game and put on a performance for the people of Christchurch, with extra motivation for senior players Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Kieran Read, who all play for local franchise Crusaders.

“It is going to be a very emotional occasion for them but we would be very conscious of it as well,” said Ireland manager Mick Kearney at this afternoon’s press briefing.

“Our sympathies go out to everybody that has been involved and affected by the earthquake including (Ireland scrum coach) Greg Feek, whose wife lost a family member as well. Our thoughts would be there and we would be very conscious that the All Blacks are back there for the first time since the earthquake.

“It was a very tragic incident there last year with the earthquake and we know the city centre is pretty well out of bounds so our plan is to get down there on Wednesday morning and visit the red zone with the entire squad.

“We also have members of the Irish society coming to the hotel that evening who are going to do a presentation on the tragedy, the outcome of it and how people are coping.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s veteran74-times capped second row believes the All Blacks played “remarkably well” against Ireland on Saturday and acknowledged that it would be difficult for him to break back into the Test side this weekend.

“It’s certainly a little different (being on the bench) and I’m not settling into the role,” said Williams.

“I respect the game and I respect form. I’m not playing badly, though everyone is making out that I am, but the reality is that there's a young kid (Brodie Retallick) who is going bloody good and there's Sam (Whitelock) who is going bloody good as well. They earned it and you’ve got to credit that.

“The day this team becomes one of individuals is the day this team will plummet. Where I can help I do and the end goal for me and for this team is to win. I'm playing rugby because I'm enjoying it and want to be in this team because you want it to be better than where you found it."

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