Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Injured prop Ross back for second test

Mike Ross. Photo / NZ Herald.
Mike Ross. Photo / NZ Herald.

Ireland have reclaimed their best tighthead prop and reunited the old midfield firm for tomorrow's second test against the All Blacks.

Mike Ross has overcome a calf injury to return to the front row while Gordon D'Arcy will play alongside his captain, Brian O'Driscoll, for the 48th time in an international.

The tourists have made two other changes with Andrew Trimble on the wing and Kevin McLaughlin taking up the blindside flanker duties.

O'Driscoll said there was no feeling of resignation in his side for this test.

Every time players pulled on test jerseys they were playing to win, he said, and defeat just meant learning lessons and hitting the training paddock with more finesse and intent.

"We have to play a lot better than we did and not make as many turnovers," the captain said.

The intensity at Eden Park was up a notch from anything the Irish players had been involved in lately.

At times they had been lethargic and they needed to be set much earlier to challenge the All Blacks in every area of the park.

"Fitness levels are very strong amongst the squad and we don't have that in reserve, it is just a case of switching on upstairs first and making sure you're ready to go when you have to defend and in attack as well," O'Driscoll said.

O'Driscoll may not have many more tests against the All Blacks and always counselled his younger teammates to give the next shot their best, in case they never got another.

"I have tried to live that way and will continue to live that way for this weekend and then we'll see what comes after that," he said.

Coach Declan Kidney said predicted poor conditions would not favour either side. The side who adjusted best would achieve more.

"It is a matter of making the right decisions at the right time during the game," Kidney said.

"Obviously we took a heavy hit on the scoreboard on Saturday but we were also long enough in the game to realise that if we get our parts right then that closes up considerably."

Turnovers killed Ireland as it would any side who made that number of concessions to the All Blacks.

They were also having to cope with the three-test programme, which was a new concept for the team.

O'Driscoll grinned as he reflected on the last time he was in Christchurch, seven years ago, when a cleanout from Tana Umaga and Keven Mealamu ended his Lions tour. "Time heals all wounds, even shoulder wounds," he said.Wynne Gray

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf02 at 26 Oct 2014 11:23:24 Processing Time: 592ms