Captain’s Run done and Caelan Doris was on media duty as Ireland finished their last run out at Stade de France before Saturday’s Quarter Final Clash.
The Leinster and Ireland No. 8 spoke about the impact of the travelling Irish fans and also the messages from home, “In these big weeks you draw on some of the emotion, the pride. [I’ve been] talking to a few friends back home in Mayo, seeing how they are behind us and how so many people in the country are behind us. Over here we definitely get a sense of it.
“That is the motivation for us, trying to continue to inspire them and do them proud knowing that so many are coming over to support us. Sometimes you can almost get too emotional, then you bring yourself back into process, focus, detail, focus, going through how we are going to make them proud and how we’re going to get to the next step. It’s always a balance in these big weeks.”
The last time Ireland met the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup was a tough day for Irish Rugby but since then Ireland have won a test series in New Zealand. Doris says the palyers are drawing on that and the fact that several players didn’t feature in that 2019 Quarter Final, “It feels like it is a different group.
“It feels like quite a long time since the last one. Obviously neither of us [he and Sheehan] were there last time. There’s been a lot of experience over the last three or four years with this group. We’ve built a lot of confidence through those experiences, through some pretty big wins – New Zealand last year, New Zealand at home, South Africa.
“It’s been quite a big journey with this group and through the coaches, through our plan, through the players’ ability and our want to get better, there’s a lot of belief that has been built in this last period.
“So, we are drawing on that and not looking back too much further. I am sure some of the more experienced, older guys might take some things going back even longer but the last three or four years has been an unbelievable journey for us and there’s a lot of belief and confidence that has come from that.”
And what about the Haka? “It will be excitement and a lot of nerves. Nerves for me peak a couple of hours out, and as we get to the changing room and out onto the pitch for the warm-up they dissipate a bit. In those few minutes there will be nerves, excitement. Kind of an eagerness to get stuck in.
“In terms of haka, we will do what we’ve done quite a bit in terms of the 10-metre line, maybe flirting with it a bit. But looking forward to it big time.”
Asked about the Ireland captain, Jonathan Sexton, Doris said that while every game Ireland play now may be Sexton’s last, it is not detratcing from his focus, “Even last week building into Scotland, obviously there was a chance that could be his last ever game; he said that to us as a group. What an unbelievable player and leader he has been for Ireland for so many years.
“I think all the players would agree that the standards he sets raise everyone else’s game. He is almost like having another coach on the pitch. He seems to have like a bird’s eye view, he seems to see everything regardless of where you are.
“He catches every mistake, you can’t get away with anything with him around, which is obviously a good thing for the most part, except when he is shouting at you for those few seconds.
“He definitely brings us to another level, so valuable for the younger guys, for the two of us coming in. The way he prepares for a game, he absolutely loves the game, puts everything into it. The utmost professional.”