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Ireland need to be calmer and more clinical in second Test, insists Robbie Henshaw

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Robbie Henshaw during Ireland rugby squad training at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland this week. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Robbie Henshaw during Ireland rugby squad training at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland this week. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Robbie Henshaw during Ireland rugby squad training at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland this week. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

For some players in the Ireland squad, this is new territory, but not for Robbie Henshaw who has been down this road before. Trailing 1-0 in a Series, backs against the wall. Win or bust.

Four years ago, Ireland lost the first Test in Australia before producing a stunning comeback to win the next two and claim the Series 2-1.

Something similar is needed this week if Ireland are to have anything other than pride to play for in the third Test in Wellington.

Henshaw played every minute of the Series against the Wallabies in 2018, and having banked that experience, the Ireland centre is hoping his side can repeat the trick against the All Blacks.

“It is a very similar message that we are sending out this week compared to then; we just have to go out, give it our best shot and really go for it,” Henshaw said.

“We obviously have to tidy up a few bits at the set-piece and be more accurate and clinical and score tries off chances like we had last Saturday. Then it is a different game, a different scoreline.

“Those little bits, those mental errors that we had in the first half when they got three scores consecutively in a brief period.

“It would have been a different game in the second half if we had been tidier around there, had we not given them easy access. It is all to play for. It is really about going for it this week and everyone stepping up.”

The Ireland squad held an honest meeting yesterday, during which a few home truths were told and errors were dissected in the video room. “We were just giving little bits of detail, just talking about that soft try, the turnover try where Beauden Barrett kicked in behind us for the 12 (Quinn Tupaea); that is not us,” Henshaw insisted.

“That is just not how we would like to exit. That was one of them.

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“Then there were just another couple of clips, just our set-up in defence and how we were letting them have quick ball and then sometimes when we got it right, pointing out what it looked like and how we can apply pressure. So it was good on fix-up clips.

“We know it is not going to be perfect. We know these guys are top-class players, some of the best in the world and they will have their good patches in the game and we just need to accept that. We do the best we can.”

Another major talking point in the team meeting was why Ireland collapsed in that second quarter, which essentially ended the contest.

“I think the main thing was that we just needed to stay clam and not be too frantic or feel like you are chasing it,” Henshaw reflected.

“Being honest with you, we got that wrong because we weren’t calm. We don’t exit clean from our 22. We get turned over, Beauden Barrett puts the ball through and it’s another try.

“We didn’t action those words and we had that conversation this week, that we need to be calmer and we need to be clinical in terms of getting out of our own half because looking at them, they don’t play a lot in their own half.”

Ireland were guilty of over-playing at times, particularly when Johnny Sexton left the pitch injured. Henshaw (29) knows if his side make the same sloppy mistakes in Dunedin on Saturday, their chances of overturning the first Test will quickly evaporate.

“We want to go out and we want to play rugby and we want to be a brave team that wants to fire a shot. That is the balance,” Henshaw added.

“We want to play our style of rugby that has worked against these boys in November and in the Six Nations when we have got it right.

“It is great to play and great to watch, making sure our leaders and our guys who are calling the shots on the pitch, that we do it, that we get it right.

“It is just about us growing our game; a lot of it is down to decision-making. It is again about seeing what the situation is, what the position of the game is. Do we slow it down and pin them into a corner? It is all a decision-making process.”


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