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24th Oct 2023

“We didn’t forget that” – Brent Pope on Ireland comments New Zealand used as motivation

Patrick McCarry

New Zealand

Brought to you be Heineken

“As Ardie Savea said, ‘We kept receipts’.”

With New Zealand facing South Africa in the final of the World Cup, this weekend, the latest House of Rugby had a distinct Kiwi flavour.

Brent Pope has been living permanently in Ireland since the early 1990s and may use the odd ‘we’ when discussing Ireland, but he remains a New Zealander to his very core. The former Otago No.8, who only missed out on the 1987 World Cup through injury, found it tough to stay neutral when Ireland faced the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter final, earlier this month.

With New Zealand victorious, and now eyeing up South Africa after walloping Argentina in the semi-final, Pope joined Sene Naoupu and Máire Treasa ní Dhubhghaill to look ahead to rugby’s showcase final.

He also spoke, on a couple of occasions, of remarks coming out of Ireland – from players, fans and certain quarters of the media – that the All Blacks latched onto for motivation.

Brent Pope on comments that drove All Blacks on

Early in his appearance on the show, Brent Pope touched upon comments made ahead of the quarter final in which Ireland players gave credit to former coach Joe Schmidt yet lavished Andy Farrell with praise for creating a more relaxed environment.

Pope also spoke of the All Blacks being described as ‘a Tier 2 side’ but that must have been a remark made, in jest, by supporters as the coaches and players were nothing but respectful of Ian Foster’s side in their media briefings.

Peter O’Mahony was picked up on the referee’s microphone, during last summer’s Second Test win over the All Blacks, calling Kiwi skipper Sam Cane ‘a s**t Richie McCaw’. Tadhg Beirne told reporters, ahead of the World Cup quarter final, that the Kiwis brought in beer from their ‘home’ dressing room to help Ireland with their celebrations, after they had secured the series win in Wellington.

One difference maker since that Test Series, in the summer of 2022, was Joe Schmidt having a great say in how the All Blacks went about their business. “He’s an absolute genius,” declared former Ireland centre Sene Naoupu. “I admire him as a former colleague, and as a friend. You could see it in the breakdown work he did with [New Zealand]. They were able to his execute his plans to within the millimetre.”

Pope, who remains in touch with Schmidt, said the man that led Ireland to three Six Nations titles would have been hell-bent on turning his old side over, for the Kiwi cause.

“I used to say, ‘I’m going to show them’. And that would be a really human part of being a rugby coach or a player. When people doubt you, the one thing you want to say is, ‘I’m going to show them. I’ll show them that I was the best coach in [that] country and you shouldn’t have doubted me.

“And I think that is a real motivational driving force, not only for Joe but for the whole group. And it’s like Ardie Savea said, ‘We kept receipts’. They came out on our home patch, beat us out there and made history. We didn’t forget that.

“And they used all that – the things that Peter O’Mahony said, or didn’t say – they used that in a melting pot of motivation and said to the team, if we don’t come out with our very best performance, we’re not going to beat Ireland. Let’s use that they haven’t been past the quarter final, let’s play on that. We’re aggrieved that they came out to New Zealand on our own dung patch, they said, and beat us. They were keeping all those receipts and they delivered on the day.”

As for who wins this weekend’s final, Pope joked that it was going to be an Ali vs. Frazier bout of epic, heavyweight proportions.

Naoupu and Pope are both siding with the All Blacks to win their fourth World Cup, and agreed their was another ‘receipt’ they are holding on to – losing the 1995v World Cup final to South Africa.

These guys sure do hang on to their receipts, aye?


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