Ireland ‘in good place’ ahead of New Zealand tour


Eddie O’Sullivan says he hasn’t lost faith in Ireland’s chances of success in New Zealand this summer, despite a poor end to the season for all four provinces.

Leinster’s chances of a European and URC double have been crushed in recent weeks after defeats to La Rochelle and the Bulls, while Ulster suffered a painful URC semi-final loss to Stormers.

Munster’s season also came to a shaky end a week earlier, while Connacht’s failure to reach the play-offs meant they were inactive for several weeks.

Head coach Andy Farrell said yesterday he doesn’t believe there will be any lingering frustrations among his squad, which gathered this week for a mini-camp, before flying to Nova Scotia. Zealand for their three-test series next week.

And O’Sullivan says he has complete confidence in the players to turn over a new leaf in the Irish camp, based on his own experiences as head coach between 2001 and 2008.

“I think they’re well placed,” he said on this week’s RTÉ Rugby podcast.

“When I coached Irish teams, they could leave the province behind and draw a line. They wore a different hat.

“Guys would be a bit depressed, I remember Munster had some of those terrible defeats in Europe, but I always found the players had that ability to compartmentalize, and they pivot; that’s the next challenge, a green jersey rather than a red or blue jersey, I wouldn’t care too much about that.

“A change of scenery too, another country, a freshness in there.

Ireland toured New Zealand twice under Eddie O’Sullivan, in 2002 and 2006

However, the former Ireland boss believes Farrell will have to play a delicate balance with the team’s fitness during the three-and-a-half-week tour, in which Ireland will play five matches.

And while defeats to Leinster and Ulster mean Farrell now has a few extra days to prepare with his full squad, O’Sullivan says some players may be running out of playing time.

“Some guys might get too much rest,” he said.

“Bundee Aki won’t have played for two months in the first Test, he didn’t even play Connacht’s last game at Galway.

“The advantage for some guys is that they don’t fly after a final, there’s a bit of a respite, but some guys have been twiddling their thumbs for a few weeks, and that’s not good. either, you lose your acuity.”

“Whether that can last for all three games is another question. This first game will probably be the one they have a chance to win.”

Former Irish prop Fiona Hayes also joined Eddie and Neil Treacy on this week’s podcast, but admitted her confidence in Irish success in New Zealand was not as strong as it was a few months ago.

And she says she expects Ireland to really aim for the first Test in Auckland on July 2, as they seek a first-ever victory against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil.

“At first I thought we could really come out and cause an upset, just on the form of the players. Especially Leinster the last few weeks they look tired. Munster looked tired,” he said. she stated.

“I know Andy Farrell came out and said it was a different system, and you can’t watch the provincial games, but you can watch the players and how their form came into play, and what they looked like on the ground.

“They have some free time before the tour, but I certainly wouldn’t be so confident.

“It’s a chance to go to New Zealand, there are guys who know there’s a World Cup coming up, they’ll rest and get the bodies sorted, then we’ll probably see them go, hammer and pliers.

“Whether that can last for all three games is another question. This first game will probably be the one they have a chance to win.”

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