Click here for more photos of Ireland’s training session at the Auckland Grammar School on Thursday.
Pictured above: Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll practices his kicking at the Auckland Grammar School on Thursday. O’Driscoll feels, just like last week against the All Blacks, that the breakdown battle will be key in Saturday’s second Test. He said: “Dominance of the breakdown is very important. But it can vary from game to game, depending on who the referee is and what his take on the tackle situation is.
“You play to your knowledge of the referee. It might be different this weekend with a different referee. You might find both sides playing him differently.”
Saturday’s referee is Jonathan Kaplan of South Africa.
Lock Paul O’Connell discusses tactics with forwards coach Niall O’Donovan. O’Connell’s second row partner Donncha O’Callaghan is hoping Ireland “can get the rub of the green” this weekend to grab the nation’s first win against New Zealand in 101 years of trying.
Looking ahead to the second Test, he told XtraMSN: “We have it all to do. But we have to go out with the mindset (that we can do it). We know it’s going to be hugely tough and we’re going to have to perform better than we did last weelk. And we need the rub of the green, a small bit of Irish luck hopefully that will go our way. But it won’t be from a lack of trying on our part.”
The all-Munster front row of John Hayes, Jerry Flannery and Marcus Horan get down to business at training. Saturday will be sixth time the that the trio have started a Test match together. A winter vomiting bug for Horan saw Leinster’s Reggie Corrigan take his place on the loosehead side for February’s RBS 6 Nations clash with France.
Coach Eddie O’Sullivan talks with Ireland’s backline for Saturday’s second Test. Brian O’Driscoll is confident his side can put the disappointment of last weekend’s loss behind them. He insisted: “We want to be the first Irish team to beat the All Blacks – we want to create our own bit of history.
“We have come a long way as a team, and we have become mentally tougher. It’s not a case of five or six guys being more disappointed (after the first Test) than the rest, because individually, and collectively, we realised it was there for us last week. To a point, we threw the game away.”
With the World Cup 15 months down the line, Eddie O’Sullivan feels these three tour games on the trot, played over successive Saturdays, can ready his squad for the hard schedule that will face them during the tournament.
He said: “I think it’s good to play these kind of games three weeks on the bounce because you go onto a World Cup scenario and that’s what happens to you.
“If you get through to the quarter-finals, you’ve got to produce a big game to get through to the semi-finals, and on again to the final. Some people are better than others at that, and I think you want to find out who the people in your squad are who can really front up in those difficult situations.”
Ronan O’Gara, who kicked 13 points in the first Test, tackles Denis Hickie during Thursday’s training session in Auckland.
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**