All the factors that used to upset us are there as we go head-on against New Zealand in Paris on Saturday night.
We’ve all heard them – Irish rugby teams don’t ever go past quarter-finals stages in this tournament; does anyone reasonably expect us to beat the New Zealanders for a third time in a row and maybe worst of all to those with superstitions in our outlook of big games – the bookies have made us favourites! What us favourites against the All Blacks?
Thanks to Andy Farrell changing the mindset of his squad, we can open our arms and welcome all of the above statements and situations. We are no longer the Ireland of old who followed a good performance with a poor one; the Head Coach, a bit like fellow Englishman Jack Charlton before him with the soccer team over 30 years ago, has opened up new vistas and new expectations both for his teams and the legions of followers who have flocked to the French capital to see us beat holders South Africa and an expectant Scotland before moving on to our next assignment.
It was interesting to read how the All Black players have talked about seeking revenge for the 2-1 series loss to Ireland on their home soil last summer (’22).
They did so with an addendum that Ireland are the World’s No 1 ranked team and they were entering this encounter knowing that unlike previous World Cups where they could expect to win once they turned up, that they now face a genuine big hitter.
I firmly believe this is the era of the ‘All Greens’ and watching the way this squad has performed, even in adversity, I am growing in confidence that we can go all the way and win the World Cup in France.
That is a big statement but when a team prepares physically and mentally as well as these lads have under Head Coach Farrell, it would be foolhardy to approach games with fear. As was stated elsewhere they have learned to walk the walk while allowing others, notably Scotland all last week, talk the talk about what they are going to do to us; the 36-14 victory spoke more volumes than all their words, didn’t it?
I’ll be travelling back from China at the weekend after losing to Ronnie O”Sullivan in the inaugural Wuhan Open tournament 5-1, the less said about that the better. I’ll be watching Ireland on television somewhere, hoping that by the time I am back we will be in uncharted waters preparing for a semi-final appearance.
PS – I am good friends with the Hollywood actor Jackie Chan and it was a great thrill for me to present him with a special cue I had made for him when I caught up with him in Hong Kong last week.
- Man who confessed to robbing post office under duress jailed for 21 month
- What lies ahead for Dublin’s Homeless this Christmas?
- It was a world of Pure Imagination as Charlie and The Chocolate Factory the musical opens in Dublin
- Tonights EuroMillions jackpot is heading for a record-breaking €240 million
- Man faces sentence for involvement in a €1.4 million money laundering scheme