Ireland: Andy Farrell says ‘we need to be better than ever before’ against New Zealand

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

After a season in which the national team came up just short against a brilliant France and in which the flagship province came up short against French and South African opposition, it is worth considering whether Irish rugby has reached a peak too early, as has been known to happen before World Cups.

A thought which adds an extra element of intrigue to the tour of New Zealand this coming July for Andy Farrell’s 40-man squad, many of whom are still awaiting their first-ever tour after the interruptions caused by the pandemic.

Lots to prove

New Zealand did manage to tour, but it was a disappointing season for the All Blacks last year – including a defeat to Ireland in Dublin – one which they will desperately be seeking to put behind them.

As World Cup 2023 begins to loom large on the horizon, this is a Test series between two teams with plenty to prove, and two squads with many a hopeful looking to cement his place in his coach’s World Cup thinking. Little wonder then, that Farrell insists his players have to reach new highs.

“Any good performance that you’ve seen over the last two years, we need to be better than that,” Farrell said of the upcoming trip.

“It’s different over there and that’s why touring for these lads is some important. We’ve missed it.

“We’ve lads on 20-plus caps who’ve never toured. Walking around Auckland or Wellington or Dunedin, it’s not like walking down Ballsbridge (area of Dublin which is home to the Aviva Stadium) and people winding the window down and saying how good you are.

“This is completely different; this is proper international rugby that doesn’t get any better and it’s exactly what we want at this moment in time.

“We’re so excited about taking this squad to probably the hardest place in world rugby to go to and finding out about ourselves.”

The 40-strong squad not only has the two Tests to contend with, but also two midweek games against the Maori All Blacks, no easy match in itself and many a player will have to double up as they might on a Lions tour.

Players will also be tired after a long season, in which Ireland’s provinces have played key roles but managed to gather no trophies. Leinster in particular, given their heavy international numbers, are cited as a barometer of the national team’s form. Farrell will not counsel that thought.

“A lot gets said about Ireland and are they playing like Munster? Are they playing like Leinster? Are they playing like Ulster? Etcetera,” he retorted.

“We’re Ireland, we’re our own team, you know? We play our own way and we’ve come up against big teams before and been unbelievably physical.

“I think we’ve done pretty well of late in that type of scenario, so no, it doesn’t affect us at all.”

READ MORE: Five new caps in Ireland touring squad

The article Ireland: Andy Farrell says ‘we need to be better than ever before’ against New Zealand appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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