Devin Toner believes Ireland dispelled the All Blacks’ “mystique” in Chicago, planting doubts in New Zealand minds ahead of Saturday’s Dublin rematch.
Ireland claimed their first-ever win over New Zealand in 111 years of trying at Soldier Field on Nov. 5, with lock Toner hopeful that historic victory carried with it some vital myth-busting.
New Zealand are gunning for revenge at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, with Toner challenging Ireland to seize every shred of mental edge from that 40-29 triumph in the USA.
“Everyone’s beatable, it is only 15 men against 15 men,” said Toner. “It’s a good thing that we won in Chicago; I didn’t want to keep going on having never won against them.
“Hopefully it removes the mystique a little. But while we know that it was a great performance by us, I think they did have an off day as well.
“There were a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes from them in Chicago and we know it won’t be the same this week. It’s going to be a completely different challenge this weekend.
“I think how we did so well in the last game was pressure: we built it through getting pressure off their lineout, getting up off their line, making them knock the ball on and putting that little bit of doubt in their head.
“I think that doubt and that seed is sown now. They know we’re a good team and we can get in their face. If they start sticking passes and getting the offloads they’re a different machine. But hopefully we’re in the back of their heads now.”
One man who did shine in Chicago was Robbie Henshaw, who is fast developing the leadership drive to become a genuine Test match “superstar”, according to his Ireland centre partner Jared Payne.
Henshaw truly came of Test match age in the Windy City and ploughed over for the fifth and decisive try at Soldier Field.
Payne said: “I think he’s getting better and better, the way he conducts himself off the pitch now, he’s become more of a leader than when he first started out.
“He backs himself a lot more now. He’s got the physical attributes to become a superstar, and the more confidence he gets in himself off the pitch and the more he starts to lead people it’s going to come out more in his game, and I think you’re slowly starting to see that.
“Hopefully that continues: because when you’ve got someone playing that well beside you it’s pretty easy almost to just jump on a free ride off him.”
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY