"I didn't have the courage to say the Irish would win" - John Kirwan 3 weeks ago

"I didn't have the courage to say the Irish would win" - John Kirwan

"A quick shout-out to our new Irish listeners - thanks for the feedback."

The reaction of New Zealand's top rugby pundits to Ireland's historic series win really does make it taste so much sweeter. Folks like John Kirwan, Liam Napier, Isa Nacewa, Liam Napier, Elliott Smith, Justin Marshall, Jeff Wilson, and more, are passionate Kiwis and rugby nuts.

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To hear the glowing, respectful terms in which Andy Farrell's side have been discussed, not just over the weekend but all tour, has been heartening. Sometimes in Ireland [see, end of 2018!], we may get ahead of ourselves when a sporting team, or star, starts turning heads.

So, to hear those in New Zealand, where rugby is a religion, speak highly of this Irish side backs up what many of us have sensed since the team overcame a tough start to the 2021 Six Nations and started to really build something positive.

John Kirwan Tadhg Beirne of Ireland charges forward against the All Blacks. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)
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'All Blacks rugby empire is crumbling'

In our final dip into the Kiwi media reaction, it must be noted how the likes of New Zealand Herald, Dominon Post and Stuff all covered Farrell's team, and the rugby they not only played, but the way they imposed their game on others. For great tactical and player insights into the Steinlager Series, the Aotearoa Rugby Pod was a fine listen, too.

Over on Rugby Direct, Liam Napier and Elliott Smith gave SportsJOE a shout-out [thanks!] and welcomed along the extra feedback and input they had received from Irish listeners over recent weeks.

The podcast played a clip of Smith's match commentary, for Newstalk ZB, from Saturday's Third Test, in which he described the 'All Blacks empire well and truly crumbling'. That's how seriously they take their union, down there.

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Napier and Smith discussed possible squad changes, ahead of The Rugby Championship, and the sword now dangling over the head of besieged All Blacks coach Ian Foster. Both men said Ireland were deserving winners of the series, mirroring a general theme from the Kiwi media after the 2-1 result fell in Ireland's favour.

John Kirwan

"The Irish were amazing" - John Kirwan

The first rugby port of call for many Kiwis, on a Sunday night, is 'The Breakdown' on Sky Sport NZ.

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This week, the usual Sky pundits of John Kirwan, Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson joined host Kirsty Stanaway and Leinster legend Isa Nacewa.

"The Irish were amazing," said Kirwan, an All Blacks legend and 1987 World Cup winner, before making an admission:

"I didn't have the courage to say the Irish would win [on the previous show] but I felt in my heart they might."

In fairness to 'JK', he had been the one to state, ahead of the Test Series, that Ireland were coming to New Zealand as favourites, and that the hosts were in the odd position, in his eyes, of being underdogs.

Jeff Wilson interviewed Dane Coles at the end of the Third Test, in Wellington, and heard the All Blacks hooker declare, "If we can sort our shit out, we'll be a quality side."

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In marvelling over how Ireland varied their kicking strategies and danced to the tune delivered by Johnny Sexton, Wilson remarked, "I don't know if we can play like Ireland."

"I don't think we should play like Ireland," said Kirwan, who advocated the ABs playing to their strengths and not getting hung up on those of the opposition. Oh yes, and sort the breakdown out too.

"There is something amiss," mused Justin Marshall as they discussed the pressure Ian Foster is under and possible coaching and playing squad changes.

Rest assured, though, you can bet New Zealand will have their act together for the 2023 World Cup, in France.


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