'We can beat the best' - McFadden
FERGUS McFADDEN says Ireland have the talent to be in the top three countries in the world and should travel to New Zealand believing they will win the three-Test series with the world champions, writes Hugh Farrelly.
Ireland have never beaten the All Blacks and currently languish in eighth position in the world rankings, just ahead of Tonga. Nonetheless, McFadden is convinced Declan Kidney's side have the capacity to beat the world's top-ranked side if they believe in their own ability.
"With the players we have in Ireland at the moment, we should be one of the top three teams in the world," said McFadden. "The success the provinces are enjoying is great but we are in an era now where we need to grab our chance because opportunities are limited and years fly by.
"It seems like yesterday that I was back in school watching Ronan O'Gara fighting for his spot with David Humphreys. It was such a bitter pill to swallow when we were knocked out of the World Cup by Wales, and a three-Test series in New Zealand is a great opportunity to top off what has been an average year for Ireland.
"Playing for Leinster and winning the Heineken Cup was wonderful for me but at the end of the day it is about putting the green jersey on and representing your country, that is the pinnacle," he added.
"I would hate to think when we come into Irish camp that anyone would say they would prefer to play for their province than their country -- we are all Irish at the end of the day. It is special, 95pc of the crowd in Dunedin singing 'Ole, Ole' against Italy, it gives the whole country a buzz, it is the top end of what we do."