Saturday 24 February 2018

Kidney is expecting real Test from mighty Maori

Declan Kidney. Photo: Getty Images
Declan Kidney. Photo: Getty Images

Hugh Farrelly

DECLAN Kidney has told his Ireland players to prepare for New Zealand Maori like it was a Test.

And rather than merely looking for a decent performance to take into the final 'real' Test with Australia in Brisbane, the coach wants a win, if nothing else to help shake off some of the disappointment of their turgid display against the All Blacks on Saturday.

"I think any time you put on a green jersey you want to win the match, that's always first and foremost," admitted Kidney. "You can talk about good performances, but you'd always prefer a bad performance and a win than a good performance and a loss.

"After the match last weekend, you want to try and get a win under your belt as soon as possible, but you have to work towards it. There's no secret remedy, it's a case of hard work and doing the basics right."

As far as Kidney is concerned, this match with the Maori is as close to a Test as you are likely to get and the Cork man is certainly treating it as such.

"Every time a side tours New Zealand, the game against the Maori is always known as the fourth Test -- you know for the Lions, if they're playing a three-Test series," added Kidney.

"This is the way we see it -- it's like another Test match for us."

If Kidney wanted his side to really be put through their paces, he couldn't have picked a tougher proposition.

Pride and passion are buzzwords among the Maori team ahead of this and their match against England next week.

There is a threat that the Maori programme will be killed off and the players are potentially turning out in a bid to ensure that a 100-year-old heritage is maintained.

And Irish skipper Geordan Murphy is aware of what lies at stake for today's opponents.

"We're very respectful of the game and what it means to the Maori culture," he said.

"(But) it'll be nice to go out there and put on a good performance. We feel we let ourselves down last week and we're anxious to try to address that."

Ulster's Chris Henry will make his first start for Ireland, in the uncapped match, alongside fellow new boy Ed O'Donoghue and late call-up Rhys Ruddock, who replaced Jamie Heaslip -- banned for kneeing New Zealand's Richie McCaw last Saturday.

NZ MAORI: R Robinson; S Maitland, D Sweeney, L McAlister, H Gear; S Brett, A Smith; B Murray, C Flynn, B Afeaki; H Triggs, J Hoeata; L Messam (capt), T Latimer, C Bourke. Reps: D Coles, C Newlands, R Graham, K Lowe, R Tipuna, W Ripia, J Willison.

IRELAND: G Murphy (capt); S Horgan, G Duffy, P Wallace, J Murphy; J Sexton, E Reddan; M Horan, J Fogarty, T Court; E O'Donoghue, D Tuohy; R Ruddock, N Ronan, C Henry. Reps: D Varley, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, D Wallace, P Stringer, R O'Gara, R Kearney.

Referee: M Lawrence (S Africa).

* IRELAND's Under-20s finally had reason to smile in Argentina as they gained their first victory at the Junior World Championships over Samoa, 37-10.

The Six Nations champions showed character and professionalism to bounce back from finishing bottom of their pool to overrun the undisciplined Samoans.

Ireland will now play for ninth place and a favourable pool at next year's tournament on Monday thanks to a hat-trick of tries from debutant Andrew Boyle and scores from captain Niall Annett and Eoin Griffin.

IRELAND: A Conway (J McKinney 70); A Boyle, B Macken (E Griffin 63), D McSharry, S Zebo; N Reid, M Heaney (J Cooney h-t); B Cagney (D Buckley 70), N Annett (capt) (D Doyle 68), M Moore; B Hayes, B Marshall (D O'Callaghan 56); J Murphy, B O'Hara, P Butler (D Ryan 58).

SAMOA: S Nuie (W Mateai 78); T Tulolo (F Tuua 57), M Gandy, K Malielegaoi, T Sufia; P Fa'apale, J Malo; J Sililoto, A Vaiomanu (T Keresoma 25) (S Tuiletufuga 61), F Faatu; J Tyrell (capt), S Luatua; J Aloalii, I Timu-Sa, J Tupe.

Source: Belfast Telegraph

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