Best: Irish will have to play even better to beat All Blacks
DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland's maiden win over the All Blacks this month to end 111 years of rugby heartache was lauded as one of the greatest moments in Irish sports.
Up there with Munster beating the All Blacks in 1978, Dennis Taylor winning the 1985 snooker world championship, Barry McGuigan the world featherweight boxing title in 1985, beating Italy in the 1994 World Cup, the 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam, and Rory McIlroy's 2011 U.S. Open triumph.
Two weeks after the momentous 40-29 win over New Zealand in Chicago, Ireland captain Rory Best said that in anticipation of a typically furious response from the Kiwis, they will have to produce their mightiest effort to pull off a repeat result on Saturday at Lansdowne Road.
"Big one-off performances and then a drop off isn't acceptable anymore with this group of players," Best said on Friday at the captain's run.
"We'll need a performance that's up there with the best we've ever produced in an Ireland shirt."
To their benefit, Best said they have had much more time to prepare even more intensively for the rematch.
"We've put the pressure on our group of players through the coaches to make sure that the preparation we did two weeks ago won't be enough," he said.
"It's got to be more, so we put that pressure on ourselves internally, and we've made sure that everything we covered two weeks ago, we've covered that and more."
New Zealand has reinforced its pack with world-class locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock following injuries, seemingly reducing areas for Ireland to exploit, and giving the All Blacks more options to apply pressure.
Best said a review of the Chicago match showed lots of areas they could improve, notably in defence. The Irish scored a record five tries against New Zealand in a highest-ever score, but also conceded four tries.
"We've had three weeks together now so we should be better than we were in Chicago," Best said. "Defensively, we should be better and we need to be better."
Ireland handed Kieran Read his first loss as New Zealand captain, and that made the last two weeks uncomfortable, he said. He sat out the win over Italy in Rome last weekend to be fresh for this Saturday's game.
"That defeat in Chicago makes guys uncomfortable, suffering the loss and how to deal with it," Read said. "So you might look back on this as defining."