Brian O’Driscoll and the Ireland squad are ready for the training pitch with everything to play for following Saturday’s defeat by the All Blacks in their tour opener at Yarrow Stadium.
Four tries, three in the second half, gave Ireland some boxes to tick following a tough day at the New Plymouth venue.
Speaking afterwards, Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll said: “(Jamie Heaslip’s red card) certainly didn’t help matters. It’s difficult playing against the All Blacks with 15 players but when we lost Jamie and then Rog (Ronan O’Gara) to the yellow, we were chasing shadows a bit. It was a tough period.
“I don’t want to get into the fairness of them (the decisions). You’ve got to deal with these things and sometimes they’re the cards you’re dealt. You’ve got to suck it up.
“It was a bad defeat. But I’m ever positive and you’ve got to take the good things that you can out of every game. There were certainly some of those in the second half.
“I’m delighted that we were able to show a bit of bottle in the second half and play some good stuff.”
New Zealand used their numerical advantage to build a 38-0 lead, with Conrad Smith, Kieran Read, debutant prop Ben Franks and Jimmy Cowan (2) bagging tries, each converted by the in-form Dan Carter.
Ireland managed to hit back just before the break courtesy of a converted try from spritely replacement lock Dan Tuohy, who came on for hamstring injury victim Mick O’Driscoll.
Tries from Brian O’Driscoll, Tommy Bowe and Gordon D’Arcy also restored some pride for Ireland in the second period, although the All Blacks took their own try tally to nine – Smith, Sam Whitelock (2) and Neemia Tialata finished off the scores.
Ireland flanker John Muldoon broke his right arm during the opening half, sadly ruling him out of the rest of the tour.
Muldoon was brought to a local hospital with a suspected displaced fracture in his arm, and Mick O’Driscoll’s first cap since June 2009 was prematurely ended by back spasms which affected him down his hamstring.
Commenting on the injury situation, head coach Declan Kidney said: “Our doctor has just gone to the hospital now to see what the best (course of action is), whether they should operate on it straight away or just buy 24 hours and see what to do.
“Micko’s in a bit of discomfort at the moment. He’s just quite sore. He was good going into (the match). Sometimes these things have a way of sorting themselves out again. The next 24 hours will tell that.
“We’ll take a look at that (bringing a back row replacement in) because we just have the six back rows with us and we have a game (against New Zealand Maori) in six days’ time.”
He added: “We had to work our way through it (the sending-off) the best we could, but I think we lost discipline in what we wanted to try to do when we were down a man. Our discipline in our defensive shape wasn’t good.
“We let ourselves down and we will have to take a good look at that.
“We were in a fairly dark place (after the first half). So, yes, I was pleased with the second half but I wouldn’t be running away from the damage we did to ourselves in the first half.”