Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Loe: Young guns fire up for All Blacks

Liam Messam. Photo / Getty Images
Liam Messam. Photo / Getty Images

The standout factor from last night's match was the pure, rawboned intensity on display.

Maybe it came from the shock of the great escape last week but I can't remember an All Black display over the past decade where the intensity has been carried from the first minute to the last.

It was mightily impressive and when the replacements came on - and we needed a few - the machine kept on rolling on.

Hats off, too, to the new coaching panel who are picking the right moments to make substitutions.

Though the attack was impressive, the key to yesterday's victory was in the defence. It was a brutal, overwhelming blanket and meant the Irish were on the back foot for almost the entire match.

I was impressed with the impact of the young guns and in a way I thought they outshone their more experienced counterparts.

Sam Cane did everything we expected he might and perhaps a little bit more, while Liam Messam played like a man with a point to prove. He has been the nearly man at All Black level for a long time but the Chiefs stalwart creates a dilemma for the selectors, although it is a problem they will welcome.

The tone of the match was summed up by the performance and body language of the respective captains. Brian O'Driscoll looked a beaten man 10 minutes into the match while Richie McCaw was still buzzing as he conducted post-match interviews. It was a huge turnaround from last week.

Talking of McCaw, he didn't disgrace himself in the No 8 jersey as a smiling Kieran Read looked on from the grandstand.

I still have reservations over the scrum and Mike Cron has a bit of work to do.

They have yet to replace the power of Brad Thorn on the tighthead side and the Irish put up a good challenge throughout the series and even last night.

Andrew Hore has done well but it was great to see Keven Mealamu back out on the field and coming up with the bulldozing charges that have characterised his career. You could tell he was dying for a win and to be part of a dominant team after his miserable season with the Blues.

Overall though, the main lesson from this series is one that applied in my day and in every decade before. It's all about how you turn up on the day.

The skills are there - in some cases, they are simply incredible - but performance comes down to the top two inches and what's under the silver fern, It's about head and heart.

Last week, it was lacking; last night, it was on full throttle.

- Herald on Sunday

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Richard Loe is a former All Black and current columnist for the New Zealand Herald

Richard Wyllie Loe was a renowned All Black forward prop who plied his trade for the New Zealand national team between 1987 and 1995. Loe was well known by fans and team mates alike as an ‘enforcer’ on the pitch, a player who balanced his abilities with the ball with a tough-tackling prowess and a penchant for physicality. During an outstanding career Richard Loe represented his country of birth in no less than three World Cups, assisting the All Blacks to a famous victory in 1987. Along with fellow team mate and captain Sean Fitzpatrick, Loe formed one of the most formidable forward lines ever to lead the All Blacks. Despite his sometimes overly physical dominance on the pitch, Loe is regarded by former team mates as being an exceptional character and professional. Following retirement from rugby Loe became a sport columnist for the New Zealand Herald, a position he still holds today.

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