Click here for post-match reaction from Denis Leamy, Paul O’Connell and Ronan O’Gara following Ireland’s second Test defeat by New Zealand.
IRELAND NUMBER EIGHT DENIS LEAMY: “It’s a trait we’ve been failing into, conceding the first score. It’s almost like we need a kick in the arse before we can start playing. We need to get the first score one of these days.
“It’s another ‘what might have been’. We left it behind us. There’s positives and negatives in it but it’s just so gut-wrenching to lose the two Test matches. When we got back to within three points at 20-17, we just needed that score to put us ahead. We just couldn’t get our noses in front of them – could have been a different game then.
“We’re as strong as these guys, as good as these guys. It’s just that extra five percent we need. It’s probably mental. Until we believe we can do it, we won’t do it.
“We could have listened to all the guff during the week about how we’re great fellas – doing so well in the first Test. We didn’t buy into that. Now we could take our eye off the ball and start thinking of our tans this week but we want to win against Australia next Saturday. That’s paramount. The graph is still rising.
“We have to pick up the pieces and move on. There’s no point in dwelling on what happened here. We competed very well at most of the contact areas, we proved that we’re no shrinking violets. Richie McCaw normally wins six turnovers a game. I don’t think he got more than two in both matches.”
IRELAND LOCK PAUL O’CONNELL: “The game was there to be won. We went after it 95 percent but I don’t think we went after it 100 percent.
“We needed to make things happen as a forward unit. When you have guys like (Brian) O’Driscoll and (Gordon) D’Arcy in the team, you can take a ball off the top of the lineout and take a look up and see what happens.
“If we can recognise that as a team, I think these two weeks, while being a massive disappointment, can help us in our road to the World Cup next year.”
IRELAND OUT-HALF RONAN O’GARA: “(On missing the tackle which led to Luke McAlister’s clinching try) I probably went a bit low in the leg tackle. It is an area where you can get him (McAlister). He just has a fantastic leg drive. I have to put my hand up for a bad missed tackle. It’s as simple as that.
“That is the disappointing thing. I am a leader in this team, I have to put my hand up. I missed a tackle that effectively ended the game for us.
“Personally, I need to make that jump to become world class. The coaches tell me, and I know myself, that it (tackling) is the one area of my game that requires a little bit of improvement. It all comes down to technique and timing. If you look at that tackle (tonight), I probably needed the support of, in this case, Darce (Gordon D’Arcy) to hit in with me. He went out to cover. In that regard, it would have been great to have an insurance policy.
“I was enjoying myself for 70 minutes, I thought I was playing well. Tactically, I think we were outsmarting them a little. I kept asking Brian every few phases – ‘are you happy with me dictating and kicking the corners, putting the ball in behind them?’ And he was. We were getting good return.
“When the All Blacks were turned, they were a different team. They tried to force the play from their own half. They threw one or two passes behind each other and we definitely had them rattled.
“The conditions in both matches were different, but we progressed more than they did between the two games. Once we got back into the match and crept closer to them, they looked more rattled than they did last week. That’s why we should be kicking ourselves for letting it slip.”