Winning this series against the All Blacks on home soil would be Ireland's greatest ever achievement

Risks will need to be taken and some very brave calls will need to be made, especially early on and I think we have the players to make them.
Winning this series against the All Blacks on home soil would be Ireland's greatest ever achievement

Rieko Ioane of New Zealand, center, can't get past the defense of Ireland during their second rugby union international match in Dunedin, New Zealand, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)

“YOU miss 100% of the shots you never take.” 

This is a quote used by many to stimulate the minds of those who are presented with a once in a life time opportunity.

As a result of some incredible bravery and 117 years of trying by those who have gone before, Andy Farrell and his players have put themselves in a position where not very many will ever walk, however, it is going to take something extra special if this squad of players and coaches are going to reach the zenith of touring rugby.

Risks will need to be taken and some very brave calls will need to be made, especially early on and I think we have the players to make them.

To leave the land of the long white cloud with a test series victory is an achievement that in my opinion is parallel to winning a Six Nations Grand Slam and to do it for the first time is something that can never be achieved again.

Everyday we all make some bit of history, but to make history that the entire rugby world will learn about and will never forget is so exceptional that Ireland will need to play at a level twenty-five percent over and above where they peeked last weekend.

Like so many others, I didn’t think that Ireland had the mental or physical capabilities to turn over an All Black side in their own land, but I was wrong.

From one to fifteen and any substitution that graced the field that day did so with a clear and accurate set of directives in their minds.

Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, center, passes the ball during their second rugby union international match against New Zealand in Dunedin, New Zealand, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)
Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, center, passes the ball during their second rugby union international match against New Zealand in Dunedin, New Zealand, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)

First of all, they had to do their own job to the highest standards possible and after that, if they had anything else left in the tank, it had to be shared with those who were wilting. 

Up to the final whistle these warriors never allowed the mental stresses that coincide with leading the All Blacks get the better of them and it must be exactly the same for tomorrow.

To paint the best analogy possible for how rugby is viewed in New Zealand and what it means to them, try equating it to Soccer in Brazil, Gaelic football in Kerry or oxygen to fire. 

Without it many of the folks would have nothing to look forward to and their lives would be cold and meaningless without it. 

In other words it's far more important than religion.

The backlash from the New Zealand media and public after last week’s loss was just biblical with many mediums screaming for the heads of Ian Foster and his coaching staff to be fired immediately. 

Expressions such as insipid, substandard, dull, uninspiring and dreadful were used to describe the All Blacks performance and these words formed sections of headlines that adorned all the New Zealand papers on Sunday morning. 

And to make matters worse what followed throughout the week only became more spiteful.

If there was ever a team that had a gun to their heads you would have to say that team are the All Blacks and unless they produce a winning score line on the various scoreboards dotted around the Sky stadium in Wellington, Foster and co might as well just head straight from his viewing box to the airport. 

Many already believe that his goose is already cooked and that either Joe Schmidt or Scott Robertson are lined up to take over.

It is going to be fascinating to see how this very injured animal reacts to having so much pressure on its shoulders and even more fascinating to see how Farrell and his key players look to twist the knife even further.

Ardie Savea of New Zealand, right, is tackled by Ireland's Gary Ringrose during their second rugby union international match in Dunedin, New Zealand, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)
Ardie Savea of New Zealand, right, is tackled by Ireland's Gary Ringrose during their second rugby union international match in Dunedin, New Zealand, Saturday, July 9, 2022. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)

The news of Johnny Sexton's and Peter O’Mahony’s availability for this game must have come as a very welcome gift for Ireland's coaching team because an Irish team without the shrewdness of Sexton or the guile of O’Mahony is like having an Irish pub stocked with English ale. 

It just doesn’t work.

On Farrell's wish list for this game will be the following.

1. A quick score to settle the nerves and implant even more doubt in the heads of the Blacks.

2. At a very minimum a solid scrum on their own feed.

3. Dominance at the breakdown.

4. No stupid penalties or silly little indiscretions. If the Blacks are to gain territory or score points they must be made earn them.

5. Get the referee on their side as soon as possible. Yes sir, no sir and the attitude must be faultless, even if he is wrong. 

Last week’s match day official Jaco Peyper didn’t fall for any of New Zealand’s trickery and you can be sure Wayne Barnes from England wont either so, if Sexton and O’Mahony can sway the English man's perception of what is happening, the outcome of this game could boil down to one or two decisions by Barnes.

Would winning this series be Ireland's greatest ever rugby achievement?

For me, I think it probably would because, if you can go to the home of the best and steal the very DNA that keeps their country alive, it will bring the sport to levels never witnessed previously and the respect it will earn Irish rugby will simply be priceless.

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