Monday 19 March 2018

Eyeing up the all blacks again

Simon Zebo during the Captain's Run at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Simon Zebo during the Captain's Run at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland will revert to their traditional method of facing the Haka at the Aviva Stadium this evening and will not repeat the figure of eight they formed as a mark of respect to Anthony Foley in Chicago before they look to repeat their historic victory on home soil.

Captain Rory Best has confirmed the decision ahead of the eagerly anticipated sell-out return meeting as the world champion All Blacks come looking for revenge after suffering their first loss in the 29th edition of this 111-year-old fixture.

Joe Schmidt's side can rise to fourth in the World Rugby rankings if they can go back-to-back and beat New Zealand at home for the first time.

There have been some calls to adopt the figure of eight before every game against the All Blacks, but Best and his players have decided that it was a once-off.

"We'll be as normal, lined up across the 10m line, the flat line," Best said.

"Obviously two weeks ago with the figure of eight, it was the first time we'd pulled on an Irish jersey since Axel's passing, and we felt it was right to mark that in some way.

"This time around it will be nothing like that, it probably wouldn't be appropriate. It felt appropriate, two weeks ago, but now we've done that, we have to let the family have their peace now and get on with life."

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Jonah Lomu and New Zealand captain Kieran Read spoke emotionally about his childhood hero at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.

The No 8 said paying tribute to the great winger is a focus of his side’s motivation as the All Blacks’ thoughts are also with the people affected by the earthquakes that took place back home this week.

"We have spoken about it as a group," he said. "He is one our legends in this All Black environment and family.

"‘We feel for his family at this time of the year. It is one thing that provides extra motivation for the group playing for him and his family. There are other things at home as well. "The earthquake is on a lot of the guys' minds as well. The best way we can do that [pay tribute] is to go out and perform on the pitch.2

Read pledged that his side would turn in an improved performance as he looks to bounce back from the first defeat of his captaincy.

"Certainly the loss magnifies this game and puts it into a massive perspective so we know the challenge that’s ahead of us so the guys have prepared really well," he said.

"What we can’t do is suddenly change everything we've done so far this year. We've got a good recipe. I know the boys have prepared as well as we can do and it’s a game we’re really excited."

Irish Independent

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