Tuesday 20 February 2018

Maori boss wary of wounded Ireland

Hugh Farrelly

Bring it on, was the message from the Maori camp yesterday ahead of tomorrow's clash with Ireland at Rotorua's International Stadium.

The match is of extra significance to the Maori as it marks the 100th anniversary of their first rugby match, also played in Rotorua, and they expect a full-frontal assault from Irish players attempting to get their tour back on track after the 66-28 defeat to the All Blacks last weekend.

"I'd say they'll be hurting and we'll get it," said coach Jamie Joseph. "I would be hurting after that, and usually when teams are hurting, it brings the best out of them. It will be huge. Both teams are playing for the pride of their people."

The former All Black flanker faced Ireland on their tour in 1992 when the under-strength tourists nearly pulled off a remarkable upset.

"I've played against Ireland myself and I know how passionate they are as a rugby team and a rugby nation.

"The guys are aware of that, and if they're not, they will be by tonight, and if they're still not, they'll be made aware of it in the first five minutes."

Joseph has made five changes to the side that defeated the New Zealand Barbarians, including a start for giant Chiefs prop Ben Afeaki, and the Maori have been working hard on their scrummaging this week after struggling in that area last weekend.

Geordan Murphy leads an Irish team with four uncapped players, including 19-year-old Leinster flanker Rhys Ruddock, who joined up with the squad last Monday having been flown out from the U-20 World Cup in Argentina following Jamie Heaslip's suspension and injury to John Muldoon.

Irish Independent

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