David Corkery on rugby: Blooding new Irish players is more important than beating the All Blacks

Ireland will face their biggest New Zealand challenge yet in the the three test matches over the coming weeks
David Corkery on rugby: Blooding new Irish players is more important than beating the All Blacks

Jonathan Sexton, right, and Joey Carbery during Ireland rugby squad training in Auckland. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

THEY say that revenge is a dish best served cold, but unlike the English, Aussies, and South Africans, the New Zealanders like to do their talking on the scoreboard.

When you’ve earned the privilege of becoming an All Black, you lose any kind of entitlement to offer excuses; retaliation or revenge is never spoken about because it would only distract them from the job at hand.

All Blacks have no time to look for justifications or incentives to hide behind and if they do offer some kind of excuse for a below-par performance, they will only point the finger of blame at the person they see in the mirror.

At any level, be it in sport or business, the ones who sit at the summit of their particular Everest never bitch or moan about the external influences that cause them to fail.

Instead, they look at what learnings they can take from the defeat, scrutinise what they did wrong, try to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, and move on very quickly.

It might have taken Ireland over a 100 years of shedding blood, sweat, and tears to achieve success against the mighty All Blacks, but now that the men in green have managed to achieve this on three occasions in recent times.

The next challenge is to beat them in their own back garden and this will offer Andy Farrell and his army of 40 players a challenge the likes of which they have never encountered before.

Sports psychologists will tell you that playing at the highest level is all about procedure, policy, routine, discipline, and remaining steadfast to the game plan you want to implement.

However, when there are 15 All Blacks navigating their way towards you in a confined area and they are running lines impossible to defend against, hitting you like you’ve never been hit before and scoring points like they are going out of fashion, all those hours spent listening to those experts who never played the game before will seem like a complete waste of time.


It reminds me of a brilliant quote from Mike Tyson when he stated: ‘Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’.

Only a fool would bet against the men from the land of the long white cloud winning all three tests in this series, albeit I really can’t imagine that Ireland will be lying down to have their bellies tickled either.

World Rugby insists on countries bringing their strongest and most decorated players when they go on tour to foreign lands, but for the life of me, I cannot understand why Johnny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony, Conor Murray, Keith Earls, Tadhg Furlong, and Cian Healy are not covering themselves in oil and soaking up the sun on some tropical beach at this stage of their careers.

Cian Healy of Ireland leaves the pitch on a medical cart against the Maori All Blacks. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Healy of Ireland leaves the pitch on a medical cart against the Maori All Blacks. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

If Ireland are ever going to make it beyond the quarter-finals of a World Cup they will need to wrap a certain cohort of players in cotton wool. We all know these guys are good enough to make any World Cup squad and there are younger and less experienced players who would benefit massively from playing against the All Blacks.

There are members of this touring squad who have 20 caps to their name and they have never toured because of the pandemic. While Ireland’s chances of creating history would be significantly reduced if Sexton and co were not present, the squad that will travel to the 2023 World Cup would be so much stronger as a result.

To win a World Cup you must have a minimum of three players in each position capable of competing at the highest level.

The news that broke early in the week that Joe Schmidt has joined the All Blacks coaching ticket in a bid to minimise the level of disruption caused by a Covid outbreak might seem a bad thing but with Schmidt being so rigid in his systematic ways of coaching, Ireland’s familiarity with him might just aid Farrell.

No side in the world is unbeatable but with New Zealand playing at home and with the Irish players coming off the end of a very disappointing season, the only game that I can see them causing New Zealand any trouble in, is in tomorrow’s first test.

This is going to be one hell of a series and I just hope that all the good work that has gone on over the last few years is not eroded away over a three-week period.

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