'The All Blacks of Europe' - South African coach gives 'world class' Ireland the highest possible praise
South Africa coach Allister Coetzee has labelled Ireland as "Europe's All Blacks" ahead of the showdown between the two sides on Saturday.
Hailing "world-class" half-backs Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, the Springbok supremo is expecting a strategic battle when the teams meet at the Aviva Stadium.
The 'Boks are coming off the back of a disappointing Rugby Championship where they won just two of their six games, but have taken solace from their showing in their second outing against New Zealand when they ran the world champions close at Newlands.
Coetzee reckons they will need a similar display to get a result in Dublin.
"It's an important autumn series for us, the Test we played last against New Zealand, that's the standard basically," he said.
"For us it's important because we have a huge respect for Ireland, they are a quality side and it's almost close to your All Blacks side in Europe.
"If you look at their history against the All Blacks. They have a great coaching staff, Joe (Schmidt) is a great guy, a really good coach, and (Andy) Farrell his defence coach is really astute.
"So we've got to be at our best this weekend, we want to see constant improvement and the things we've done well, we've got to keep like that and also improve the other things."
Read more here:
- Aki doing everything he can to get up to Irish speed - Earls
- Tony Ward: Time to put down a marker against 'Boks
Coetzee caused some confusion when he stated that the Irish were three from four against the All Blacks, when last year's win in Chicago was the only success they've ever had.
However, he later clarified that he was referring to Lions Murray and Sexton in particular and stood over his assertion.
"I'm happy (saying) that Ireland are the New Zealand of Europe. The line-speed killed the All Blacks, that's the other thing we have to deal with," he said.
"It's great to have a half-back pairing as your spine, they're world-class players."