Kidney expects New Zealand to improve
June 15, 2012
Brian O'Driscoll leads his Ireland team-mates around the AMI Stadium in Christchurch © Getty Images
Ireland coach Declan Kidney is braced for an improved performance from New Zealand when the two sides go head-to-head in the second Test in Christchurch on Saturday.
A new-look All Blacks side powered to a 42-10 victory over the tourists in last weekend's first Test in Auckland. It was the home side's first outing since their Rugby World Cup triumph last year and the squad had only come together the week before the Eden Park clash.
As a result, Kidney expects the hosts to kick on again tomorrow when the All Blacks will return to Christchurch for the first time since the devastating earthquakes that struck the city last year and stripped it of a central role in the World Cup.
"I know for a fact they'll improve, they'll improve 10-15 per cent and that's why this is an even bigger challenge than last week," Kidney told the Irish Times. "They'll obviously be on an emotional roller from it being back in Christchurch. None of those things we can do anything about. We just need to get a bit upset with ourselves and we'll perform an awful lot better - and I know that we can."
Captain Brian O'Driscoll is also well aware of the task facing his side against an All Blacks side that shook off the rust with an ominous display last time out. "You've got to stay with them, stay with them, stay with them," O'Driscoll told the newspaper. "And take your chances when they come. We don't have to play with any concerns, we've been written off over here already so just play with, not wild abandon, but controlled abandon, as such."
But O'Driscoll, who is poised to win his 125th Test cap, remains confident his side can upset the odds that have the All Blacks 1/40 to win the game. Asked why, he said: "Because no one gives us a chance, which is a good place to be. I know what the capabilities of the team are, and it will take a massive effort from everyone to play . . . one of their best games," he said. "But that's happened with Irish teams I've been involved with, when we've beaten world class opposition."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham