Sunday 22 September 2019

Josh van der Flier reveals the unique way Ireland challenged New Zealand's Haka ahead of epic win

The haka is performed by New Zealand's All Blacks, led by captain Kieran Read, prior to the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
The haka is performed by New Zealand's All Blacks, led by captain Kieran Read, prior to the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Nick Purewal

Ireland laid down a unique challenge to New Zealand's Haka to warn the All Blacks they could not be bullied, Josh Van Der Flier has revealed.

Joe Schmidt's Ireland toppled back-to-back world champions New Zealand 16-9 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, for just their second-ever win over the All Blacks.

Ireland famously formed a figure of eight on the pitch in honour of the late Anthony Foley ahead of their first win over the Kiwis at Soldier Field in Chicago two year's ago.

Last night, Ireland's players linked arms, and as New Zealand started their Haka, took one solitary step forward.

Leinster flanker Van Der Flier admitted the symbolism of that move geed Ireland up, helping the hosts stop New Zealand scoring against a Test nation for the first time since facing France in 1995.

Asked about the idea behind stepping towards the Haka, Van Der Flier replied: "I think it just represented the fact we weren't going to take a backward step the whole game.

"That's what Rory Best said to us, we wanted to go after them, not step away, not accept being bullied by them.

"That was part of it and then I suppose it's a pretty special moment as a team all being together and watching something as historic as the Haka. So it's quite cool.

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"You watch any game New Zealand play, they are incredibly physical, so we knew we had to come out and go after them.

"We knew we couldn't sit back, we went out to go after them and really put pressure on them."

Jacob Stockdale bagged his 12th try in 14 Tests as Ireland backed up their maiden win over New Zealand, the 40-29 victory in Chicago in 2016.

The Ulster powerhouse capped a stunning Joe Schmidt ruse, collecting his own punt to dot down after Johnny Sexton's cute switch with Bundee Aki.

Rory Best produced a much-improved showing at hooker to sit alongside his Haka ruse, with Van Der Flier hailing the Ireland captain's all-round leadership qualities.

"Rory understands players very well; he'll put his arm around you, but will also know if you need a good talking to," said Van Der Flier.

"But mostly he's very softly spoken, but says exactly what needs to be said.

"He won't over-talk and he knows what's best for the team, and always gives his all for the team.

"When you see the performances he puts out and how much effort he puts in every week, and how he trains and everything, he's someone it's a privilege to follow.

"He's a massive competitor, incredibly competitive. And you see his work at the breakdown every week, he's brilliant. He puts in a shift every time and does his all."

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