David Corkery: This group of players have created a legacy

A first series win for Andy Farrell's side over the All Blacks as history in made as Sexton proves what a great captain he really is
David Corkery: This group of players have created a legacy

Ireland’s Rob Herring scores his sides fourth try

OMG!!!

History created again, but this time the history carries with it a wave of substance that Irish rugby has never ridden before.

To win a test series in New Zealand is a feat that only a tiny proportion of rugby players can ever say they achieved, and for this group of players, their names will now be etched in a kind of granite that is 100% unbreakable.

I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated a game of rugby so much as this one, and there were two reasons for that.

Firstly, I was deliberating on whether or not Ireland would be able to maintain the same level of intensity as they produced during last week's historical victory because, to beat any All Black team, you have to play with a kind of forceful accuracy that normally only originates every now and then, so to find it two weeks on the bounce is just incredible and I don’t care how sub-standard this particular New Zealand team are. 

They are the All Backs and to be an All Black you have to be one hell of a player.

In the first and second test of this series Ireland managed to cross the All Blacks try line within the first five minutes of the game commencing. 

So, when Josh van der Flier appeared from the bottom of a maul smiling with a kind of grin that can only be achieved when you score a try against the mythical All Blacks after one hundred and eighty seconds of the game commencing, the boost that it gave all in the Irish camp can only be equated to the shock that it bestowed on the men in the black jersey.

Garry Ringrose of Ireland is congratulated by teammate after scoring a try during the third rugby international between the All Blacks and Ireland in Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Elias Rodriguez/Photosport via AP)
Garry Ringrose of Ireland is congratulated by teammate after scoring a try during the third rugby international between the All Blacks and Ireland in Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Elias Rodriguez/Photosport via AP)

I have no idea how a side with the All Blacks pedigree could allow for this to happen three weeks in a row, and from what I heard in the build up to this game, Sam Kane and his players had referenced the opening quarter as the key to halting Ireland's advances and winning this series.

I also have no doubt that this loss will mark the end of Ian Foster's reign as coach to his country because the blazers in New Zealand will look at this loss as an embarrassment of monumental proportions and when you come from a land where rugby is viewed higher than religion, the only way to defend it is by swinging an axe with immediate resolution.

On the other hand, Andy Farrell has brought his stock price to a whole new echelon and the level of trust he has placed in his players has been rewarded with the kind of performances that all coaches crave.

In rugby, trust is a very strong entity to have between coach and player and clearly Farrell and his coaching team have created a bond with this group of players that allows for the team’s performance to cope with the pressures that come hand in hand with international rugby.

How many times have Johnny Sexton, Peter O’Mahony, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Farrell referenced a “happy camp” whilst being interviewed and when you ply your trade in a place where you enjoy working, it makes it so easy for a trusting relationship to infiltrate the very ethos that great teams thrive on.

Ireland's Johnny Sexton reacts following his team's win over New Zealand
Ireland's Johnny Sexton reacts following his team's win over New Zealand

The second thing that I was looking forward to witnessing on Saturday morning was the reaction from the home side and how they would respond to the external stresses that they found themselves under because of their previous week’s loss and their demotion to fourth place on the world rankings table of merit.

Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne and Johnny Sexton celebrate at the end of the game
Ireland’s Tadhg Beirne and Johnny Sexton celebrate at the end of the game

I might be wrong, but I can’t ever remember seeing the All Blacks looking up at others from such a humble position and Ireland can take massive solus from putting them there. 

God knows they have heaped enough misery on us over the years and whilst knocking others is not what sport is about, its always nice to avail of a small bit of revenge.

I have no idea what kind of a character Sam Cane is behind closed doors, however, what I can tell you is that he is not the kind of fearsome captain that we have become accustomed to witnessing in an All Blacks jersey. 

New Zealand's Will Jordan, right, leaps to catch the ball during the third rugby international between the All Blacks and Ireland in Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)
New Zealand's Will Jordan, right, leaps to catch the ball during the third rugby international between the All Blacks and Ireland in Wellington, New Zealand, Saturday, July 16, 2022. (Andrew Cornaga/Photosport via AP)

At times he looks as if he is almost afraid and that someone has just stolen his lunch money for the day.

In contrast, I do know what Sexton is like and if someone stole Sexton's lunch money, not only would he get it back, but he’d end up with more than he was originally given by his mom.

To be a captain of substance you need to be able to speak with your eyes, direct with your actions and gain the respect of those you command by proving your honesty, and to say that the Leinster man has all these attributes is putting it mildly.

I could go on and on about Sexton's contribution to Irish rugby, but on this occasion I believe it would be highly disingenuous because to have achieved what Ireland has achieved on this tour there needed to be a squad that were all prepared to suffer.

This group of players have created a legacy that unless they somehow go on to win a World Cup will never be replicated and because of their actions, Irish rugby will be forever respected and feared.

I really can’t put it any stronger than that.

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