The Ireland squad returned to training at Porirua Park on Thursday, running through their drills and defensive and attacking patterns as Saturday’s Test match against the All Blacks edges ever closer.
The centre partnership of Brian O’Driscoll and Paddy Wallace, who has come in for the injured Luke Fitzgerald, looked particularly sharp during Thursday’s training session, with the Ulsterman readying himself to face the All Blacks for the first time at senior level.
Having worked closely with him over the past couple of weeks, Ireland defence coach Graham Steadman has praised Wallace for his attitude on the training pitch.
“What has been impressive with Paddy is the fact that he has been very patient. His attitude throughout the World Cup and the Six Nations leading to this trip has not been diminished,” Steadman said.
“I think now he has got his opportunity, he’ll grasp it with both hands.”
In their previous two games against New Zealand on the 2006 tour, Ireland leaked some crucial late scores which led to their downfall in both Tests.
Steadman knows that those defensive errors cannot be made this time and he is bracing the players for a hard night at the office, with ‘discipline’ one of the key words.
“The All Blacks will pose problems all over the park if we give them time and space to execute so what we’ve got to do is cut down on space. The players have got to work really hard off the ball,” explained the former Great British rugby league international.
“With the light footwork and the offload game which the All Blacks can certainly play if given time and space to execute, it will cause us problems.
“So it’s important that we are technically smart and we are disciplined and composed throughout the 80, 85 or 90 minutes, whatever the case may be.”
For photos of the Ireland squad’s training stint at Porirua Park on Thursday, please click here.