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‘I know all about the fact they haven’t lost in 28 years here’ – Dan Sheehan itching to get going against All Blacks

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Dan Sheehan speaks to the media after the Ireland captain's run at Eden Park in Auckland. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Dan Sheehan speaks to the media after the Ireland captain's run at Eden Park in Auckland. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Dan Sheehan speaks to the media after the Ireland captain's run at Eden Park in Auckland. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Undaunted by the weight of history at Eden Park, following this morning's captain's run at the famous old ground, Dan Sheehan was quick to point out that he wasn't even born the last time the All Blacks lost there.

That youthful exuberance will be important in tomorrow's first Test because there are enough older, more experienced players, who have tasted defeat at Eden Park, to know just how difficult it is to win there.

The All Blacks' unbeaten streak dates back to 1994 and includes 46 games along the way. For Sheehan though, that just adds to the excitement around what is a massive challenge.

“I’ve watched plenty of All Blacks games in this ground,” Ireland's hooker said.

“I know all about the fact they haven’t lost in 28 years here. I wasn’t born. So that has its pressures but at the same time it is a massive opportunity for an Irish team to come over and win on New Zealand soil for the first time.”

Ireland are braced for a 'blacklash' in Auckland tomorrow night, after the All Blacks were beaten in Dublin last November. However, recognising the onslaught that awaits is one thing, coping with it is another.

“Both teams are peaking at top level rugby, everyone’s expectation is that it is going to come down to small, little things,” Sheehan insisted.

“I am sure they will want to get a bit of revenge on us for winning at the Aviva last November. We are expecting a reaction from them. That's the same with any team that loses, we expect them to try and come back and win the next time they play you.

“Our motivation is at the top level as well. We are expecting a big crowd, intimidating atmosphere but we have been in big stadiums around the world. This place will be buzzing tomorrow.”

Sheehan will start at Eden Park, an achievement which further highlights his rapid rise. The 23-year-old Dubliner is determined to take it all in his stride and soak up the occasion.

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“At the start of my season, coming here on this tour was one of my main goals,” Sheehan added.

"To be here with all the history that is here and to know how hard it is to win a match in this stadium; it is something special that we get to have a crack at the All Blacks on their own ground.

“We have been thinking about this game all year, especially after the autumn international. We are expecting a reaction and we’ll be ready for whatever is thrown at us tomorrow. Everyone is really excited to play. We are itching to get going.”


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