Unfortunately for Ireland the first and third match in this series is the true reflection of Irish International Rugby, rather than the big effort of the second test, and the scale of those defeats must be making a few of the Blazers in the IRFU more than a little uncomfortable about the extension of Kidney’s contract prior to the World Cup.
Frankly the tour has been a waste of time, minimal players developed and, more importantly, absolutely no desire or inclination to develop a game plan other than up the effort and give it a lash!
Fair enough, the great Kidney master plan nearly came off last week, through a huge effort from the players and a degree of complacency from the All Blacks, but that sort of strategy is only going to get you so far against the better sides in World Rugby.
No doubt the results would have been no better, and probably even worse, if the likes of Cave, Henry, Marshall, Zebo and Fitzpatrick had got some or more game time but they would have got valuable experience against the World Champions and Ireland would have learn’t something about the players. If the likes of Spence and Gilroy, a young man so ready for the big stage that his absence from the tour squad is perhaps Kidney’s most damming decision, had been included then perhaps they and we would have learnt a bit more!
Time for a few changes.
New Zealand Scorers: Tries: Cane 2, Williams 2, B Smith, Gear, Messam, Dagg, Thompson. Cons: Cruden 2, Dagg, Barrett 3. Pen: Barrett
Ireland Scorers: No one.
Ireland obviously think they can win this one with Paddy Wallace being flown straight into the team from his holiday in the Algarve. While delighted for Paddy who has had a great season, it does smack of short-termism from the Irish Management, who obviously think yet again that they’ve got stacks and stacks of time to develop players for the next world cup. Why take Cave, one of the more likely players to break into the team, and they not play him? At worst it would have been an ideal opportunity to have Cave on the bench in place of O’Gara with Wallace and Sexton starting?
Kidney’s love of all things Munster continues with O’Mahony recalled to the starting line up in place of the injured Heaslip, when surely Henry would have been the better option having outplayed O’Mahony on every occasion that it mattered. An obviously out of form Earls who is, no doubt in my mind, carrying several injuries is recalled in place of Trimble and the limited Murray continues in place of Reddan for some extraordinary reason?
Wheter Ireland win on Saturday or not, and I suspect it will be a rather emphatic not, this tour has been a huge disappointment in terms of experimentation and development.
It’s the lack of experimentation and development that makes Saturdays match reasonably easy to predict. Ireland’s forwards are usually only able to raise their game for one big effort and I suspect that was it last week. The All Blacks will realise that they have to make the effort this week and will raise their game and dominate proceedings up front either legally or illegally.
Ireland will fight a rearguard defence and look occasionally dangerous on the break until Paddy Wallace is taken off on the 50th minute to make way for O’Gara. The All Blacks will run in three late tries to pull away for a 30 point win.
Meanwhile back at home everything will be blamed on Paddy Wallace.
IRELAND: Rob Kearney, Fergus McFadden, Brian O’Driscoll, Paddy Wallace, Keith Earls, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Rory Best, Mike Ross, Dan Tuohy, Donnacha Ryan, Kevin McLaughlin, Sean O’Brien, Peter O’Mahony. Replacements: Sean Cronin, Declan Fitzpatrick, Donncha O’Callaghan, Chris Henry, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O’Gara, Andrew Trimble.