The Ireland squad enjoyed a run-out at match venue Yarrow Stadium on Friday as they prepare to face New Zealand. There are no late injury worries, although team captain Brian O’Driscoll is recovering from a bout of vertigo.
There is a quiet confidence about the Irish camp as they complete their preparations for Saturday’s Test against the All Blacks.
All Blacks assistant coach Steve Hansen feels that the home side can ‘physically dominate Ireland’ with their chosen tight five, which includes prop brothers Ben and Owen Franks.
That statement has been duly noted by the Irish management, and forwards coach Gert Smal is clearly relishing the confrontation that will play out in wet and windy conditions.
“It’s a tough challenge playing one of the best scrumming packs in world rugby, but I think the Irish are very like the South Africans and we like a challenge like that, especially if people are saying it openly in the press,” he said.
“So, with my experiences of the Irish, and I’ve had some great ones over the last two years, they can go and fetch when nobody else can fetch it, so I hope that we can keep that culture in the team and that will come through on Saturday.”
Meanwhile, hooker Jerry Flannery (calf) and winger Shane Horgan (stomach problem), who have remained in Ireland for treatment, are still hopeful of linking up with the squad Down Under.
Ireland defence coach Les Kiss explained: “They are having their medical work done on them back home, just getting a sense of where it all stands.
“We’ll probably have some decision shortly but we would hope that they could join us over the next week or so.”
Click here to view photos of the Ireland Captain’s Run session at Yarrow Stadium.