Irish coach Eddie O’Sullivan was given ample warning of New Zealand’s intent at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday; a 41-3 victory achieved with consummate ease against the northern hemisphere champions.
And if that wasn’t enough, lock Chris Jack issued an ominous warning: “We made a lot of mistakes early on and probably could have got more points in the first half. In a tight game, if you don’t have the number of opportunities we created against Wales, we could end up losing. We have got to learn from that,” Jack warned.
“The start was pretty intense. They came out with a lot of passion and we knew we had to meet it and try and squash it as soon as we could.
“We felt we had done that by the end of the first half and after that it really opened up for us and became more of a free-flowing game.”
However, coach Graham Henry preached caution: “Lansdowne Road against the Irish will be a very difficult encounter. It’s very difficult to play over there.”
The All Blacks are on a mission to complete one of the most remarkable years in the history of the game. Not content with a 3-0 series whitewash of the Lions and a Tri-Nations triumph, they are now chasing only their second Grand Slam tour of the home nations.
On Saturday, playing well below their capabilities, it was easy. O’Sullivan will have to join a magicians’ club to find a way of beating them next weekend, now that the Grand Slam show is on the road.
New Zealand scored five tries, a hat trick from Rico Gear and a couple from star performer Daniel Carter.
However, Carter is likely to be rested against Ireland, before returning to tackle England at Twickenham.
“The way the tour is structured I will possibly not be involved. I am always keen to play in the black jersey but Graham has made it pretty clear what his plans are,” said Carter.
“We are here to develop this team and I think giving every guy a run and game time will help us do that.”
Wales were short six, maybe seven, of their best players, for Saturday’s clash. Yet, the groundswell of opinion was that the guys coming in would do as well as the guys ruled out.
But on Saturday it was no contest. New Zealand, at their best, could have won by 60-plus points, highlighting the fact that teams like Wales or Ireland, with limited playing resources, need to have everyone available and playing well to mount a challenge.
Ruddock stated the obvious: “We spent too much time in our own half.
“We tried to play catch-up for too long. I was not particularly happy with the set pieces and when we played the way we wanted to play, we made too many mistakes.”
The obvious question was whether Ireland could beat this mighty side. “Yes, I believe they can, but it will be terribly, terribly hard. It will take a very special performance,” he said.
Talk about stating the obvious.
: G Thomas, Morgan, Taylor, Sweeney, S Williams, S Jones, Phillips, D Jones, Davies, A Jones, Cockbain, Sidoli, J Thomas, Charvis, Owen. Replacements: Byrne for G Thomas (58), Robinson for Sweeney (69), Cooper for Phillips (49), R.Thomas for Davies (62), Horsman for A Jones (6), Charteris for Cockbain (63), Sowden-Taylor for Charvis (69).
: Muliaina, Gear, Smith, Umaga, Rokocoko, Carter, Kelleher, Tialata, Oliver, Hayman, Jack, Ryan, Collins, Masoe, So’oialo.
: L MacDonald for Muliaina (73), Cowan for Kelleher (69), Woodcock for Tialata (52), Hore for Oliver (66), McCaw for Masoe (66).
: Chris White (RFU).