Thursday 22 February 2018

Ireland need to banish 'fear factor' to have chance – Quinlan

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

FORMER Munster and Ireland hero Alan Quinlan believes New Zealand hold a "fear factor" for most nations in Test rugby.

And he insists the All Blacks will have to be a "little below par" for Ireland to produce a historic first victory at the Aviva on Sunday. "There's a fear factor when you play them because they are so good," said Quinlan who was capped 27 times.

"Everyone grows up looking at the All Blacks on TV. They have the tradition of success. They are always there or thereabouts as being the No 1 team in the world, so it's an opportunity and a challenge playing against them – but they don't lose too many games.

"And for anyone who has ever played in matches in which the Irish team comes close to winning against the All Blacks, it has been heartache, because we've never beaten them.

"You need a physicality, you need to play to your full potential and you need them a little below par."

Quinlan made his first appearance against the All Blacks in Auckland in 2002 when he was introduced as a replacement, only to be sin-binned inside a minute.

The Tipperary native was on tour again in 2006 when Ireland led until nine minutes to go in Hamilton.

"Going back to 2002, I would have been pretty nervous," said the DeCare Dental Insurance ambassador as yesterday's launch of their 'Happy Smiles' campaign.

"It was a new experience for me and I was pretty pumped up. I wanted to be physical. When you play New Zealand, if you are not psyched up to make your tackles and meet them in the collisions you are going to come off second best.

"But it was a big regret, because I was relishing the opportunity and then to get sin-binned was a huge disappointment for me.

"And it affected the team, because they scored a few tries when I went off. You need 15 against the All Blacks and it makes it much more difficult when you're down a man."

Despite last week's disappointment against Australia, Quinlan still gives Ireland chance of halting the All Blacks' drive for a 14th consecutive win in 2013 to make it the perfect season.

"They are not arrogant, they are confident, super-confident in their ability. There is a belief when they play they should win. They are humble and decent guys off the field," he said.

"It could be mistaken for arrogance at times because it's sometimes a 'how dare you try and beat us' attitude. But that's what makes them successful and makes them so good.

"From a bookies' point of view, New Zealand will win the game all day long, but as a player and a coach you have to believe you have a chance and you have to prepare like you have a chance. And they do have a chance – it's going to be very, very difficult, but they need to focus on themselves.

"New Zealand have had a few close calls against France and England, which will give Ireland a little bit of hope.

"If they get themselves right during the week, they can give them a game and take them on."

Irish Independent

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