Irish have to raise the bar says Best

Fri, 18 Nov 2016 18:05

INTERVIEW: If Ireland are to become the first side in seven years to beat world champions New Zealand twice in a row they must play better than they did in Chicago, captain Rory Best claimed on Friday.

The 34-year-old hooker became the first Irish captain to savour victory over the All Blacks when they beat them 40-29 ending 111 years of anguish a fortnight ago.

And he says it is now crucial the Irish show they are a team capable of backing up a superb performance with another one and not like the Ireland of old.

"Two weeks ago we became the first [Irish] team to beat ABs but that happened because we put in a performance that we were happy with and performance that we can build on," said Best after the captain's run at Lansdowne Road.

"I don't think anything changes for us. We know they are the best team in the world and the reason they won 18 in a row up until two weeks ago is because they are a fantastic outfit.

"For us, we know that it is going to take a performance better than we delivered in Chicago and up there with some of the best performances that we have ever delivered in an Ireland shirt.

"That's the reality of playing the best team in the world and back to back world champions."

Best, who will win his 99th cap on Saturday, said one of the things coach Joe Schmidt has instilled in them since he took over in 2013 is to be consistent.

Best was part of the side that pushed the All Blacks close in New Zealand the year before in one Test before losing 60-0 in the next one.

"There's probably not many of us who played that day in Hamilton left," said Best.

"From that side of things, it is not something we dwell on. It was three-four years ago that Joe came in with his coaching team and the one thing we talked about is consistency. 

"I think to a large degree we have delivered that, probably more so than any Irish team that I have been involved in. For us, it is about consistency and making sure we back up what we delivered two weeks ago.

"We are always trying to push the boundaries of what we deem to be a good performance. Keep raising that bar."

Best, a member of the Ireland squad that won the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009 their first in over 50 years, said he anticipated a backlash from the All Blacks and captain Kieran Read.

"You do learn a lot from these sort of losses and you learn a lot about not just yourself but about your team and how they react to that," sad Best.

"I'm sure he as captain will be looking for a big reaction from his players."

Best, who took over the captaincy full-time in January after the retirement of legendary lock Paul O'Connell, says he is not thinking of what it will feel like should they win.

"Ultimately, Ireland's success under Joe has been all about minute by minute and that's what you always have to try and bring yourself back to," said Best.

"The only way to get to those dreams is to make sure that you win as many minutes along the way as possible."

Agence France-Presse