Jump to main content


Bradley Looks Forward To ‘Fascinating Game’

Bradley Looks Forward To ‘Fascinating Game’

After a journey of 29 hours from London to Sydney and on to their final destination, Ireland interim head coach Michael Bradley and his touring squad were happy to see the arrivals hall at Wellington Airport.

Many observers feel that Saturday’s Test match is probably Ireland’s best chance to score the nation’s first ever win over New Zealand, with Graham Henry’s All Blacks squad currently going through a transitional phase after a disappointing World Cup campaign.

But Michael Bradley, who, apart from Gordon D’Arcy and Andrew Trimble, has a full squad to choose from, feels the newer players will not weaken the home side.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

“I’ve never ever seen a bad All Blacks side. New Zealand have a tremendous tradition in rugby and consistently produce excellent players,” said the interim Ireland coach.

“We’re probably at a little bit of a disadvantage on the basis that you will have (new) players playing for the jersey, for New Zealand, on Saturday and as always those players will lift those other players around them so it should be a fascinating game.”

With the New Zealand players having played under the IRB’s Experimental Law Variations during the recent Super 14 competition, Bradley is admittedly interested to see how the All Blacks will adapt on Saturday to a game played under the ‘old’ laws which have been used in the Northern Hemisphere this season.

“We have the advantage of not transferring to the ELVs, in terms of the coaching side of it and getting the players thinking in terms of the advantage and disadvantage of playing those rules,” he said.

“On the other side, having looked at Super 14 matches, the amount of time the ball is in possession and the speed at which the game is played is now considerably faster than what it is played without them (the ELVs).

“So we are going to have a meeting of the two (different styles) and it will be the first game played under those conditions, so we will see how it goes.”

Whatever happens, the former Ireland scrum half certainly has a confident bunch of players at his disposal this week.

“You could see the confidence particularly when the Munster lads arrived. There is an awful lot of confidence in the squad, obviously generated from the provincial wins (in the Heineken Cup and Magners League).

“This Test represents a good challenge for us. Ireland haven’t beaten New Zealand and we’re conscious of that but any side is vulnerable in a one-off,” he added.

The availability of team captain Brian O’Driscoll, who confirmed he would play following the death of a close friend, is a further boost to Ireland’s cause. O’Driscoll is currently on his way to Wellington, along with Guinness Premiership finalists Eoin Reddan and Geordan Murphy.

Bradley said: “Brian found himself in tragic circumstances last Tuesday, but he has coped very well with it. We are delighted that he is coming out.

“We were always fully confident that he would come out. He’s a strong character and he’s always stood up to challenges in his life. This one was probably one of the hardest ones he’s had to face.”

The Ireland players who arrived on Sunday had a short training spin indoors at Western Suburbs RFC. The squad will train at Porirua Park in the week leading up to the Test.

“There are a lot of Irish players looking to get a second crack at New Zealand. A lot of them (from the 2006 tour) are in the squad at the moment. Previously, in 2002, Ireland got quite close to them,” Bradley explained.

“I think New Zealand would be quite wary of Ireland, and prior to the World Cup were making utterances in the direction that Ireland had the potential to do well in the competition. As it happened we didn’t do as well as we would have liked to but the players have something to prove in that area.”