Tuesday 21 November 2017

We can defeat All Blacks for first time in 107 years – Rory Best

Rory Best in action during squad training. Photo: Sportsfile
Rory Best in action during squad training. Photo: Sportsfile

Hugh Farrelly in Auckland

IRELAND hooker Rory Best says he and his team-mates believe they are capable of causing a massive upset when they run out against the world champions in Eden Park tomorrow.

New Zealand are prohibitive 1/14 favourites going into their first Test since they ended a 24-year wait for World Cup glory by beating France at the same stadium. Ireland, at the end of a long season and without talismans such as Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris and Tommy Bowe through injury, are seen as nothing more than warm-up fodder for the All Blacks in this three-Test series before the Rugby Championship gets underway later this summer.

However, Best says there is a tremendous sense of belief in Declan Kidney’s squad that they can achieve something special and defeat the All Blacks for the first time in 107 years and 24 matches.

“This Ireland squad believes we can beat everyone, so from that point of view, we go out every time we play confident we can win,” said the 29-year-old after this afternoon’s captain’s run at the stadium.

“It's going to be a tough ask. It's something no Irish team has ever done, but the 15 players plus the subs wouldn't turn up tomorrow if we didn't believe we could win the match.”

Kidney has named an exciting side including two new caps in wing Simon Zebo and prop Declan Fitzpatrick and Best is backing his Ulster front-row colleague to meet the challenge at scrum time where Ireland’ front row gives away 87 caps to their opponents (176) in terms of combined experience.

“It's a great challenge with Declan coming in, Cian (Healy) has grown into a very good loose-head prop and it is going to be a great challenge for us. Declan stepped up for Ulster against Edinburgh in the Heineken Cup semi-final, he’s a very competitive guy and I have every confidence he will step up again.”

Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal said Ireland would have to play the perfect game to beat New Zealand.

“The New Zealand team is such a talented side, they don't have any weaknesses so you have to look at the strength of your players to see if you can manipulate things and give yourself a chance to beat them,“ said Smal.

“We are under no illusions about how difficult it is going to be but we also think we can play the game a little bit and take our game to them.”

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