First Test of year a challenge, says Smith
Conrad Smith expects the short time to get a new All Blacks team ready will make Saturday’s first Irish Test a difficult one, but he’s looking forward to the challenge.
Ireland head to Eden Park on Saturday seeking their first victory over the All Blacks, and face a new coaching team with several big names now retired from Test rugby after last year’s World Cup triumph.
The All Blacks team is likely to feature some new Test players and Smith says the game will be a different Test from any other this year.
“There’s not just the post-World Cup factor but a different coaching crew, and every time you assemble there’s obviously fresh faces and there’s a few here,” he said.
“The fact that we’ve only got a few days to prepare for it will be a challenge, but in saying that there’s a lot of motivation that comes from that as well,” he said.
Smith said the team had discussed how they wanted to move on strongly from the World Cup, unlike the previous two winners, England and South Africa, which struggled the year after their success.
“There wasn’t World Cups back in the 50s and 60s for those great All Black teams. We talk about that and we just start new and this is our chance to add something to the legacy, and it starts this Saturday.”
Smith says he’s also motivated for his battle with Irish star Brian O’Driscoll, who he says is “as good as they get”.
“It’s always enjoyable, regardless of whether they’re Test matches or franchise games, when you’re playing centres you respect it adds a little bit to the game.
“It never pans out to be a one on one duel, but when you know the guy wearing the same jersey opposite you is as good as Brian O’Driscoll it carries a little bit of weight.”© AAP 2013
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