Ciaran Fitzgerald: "What amazes me about New Zealand is that they get away with it"

He captained the Lions in 1983

BY Simon Maguire 18:21 Thursday 6 July 2017, 18:21 6 Jul 2017

All Black Andy Dalton with Lions' Ciaran Fitzgerald. Image: ©INPHO/Photosport

The Off the Ball Lions Legends night was a huge success at the RDS last week.

The team were joined by Woody, Willie John, Ciaran Fitzgerald, Mal O'Kelly, Nick Popplewell, Fergus Slattery, Luke Fitzgerald and Wally as they looked back over Tours past in front of a live audience.

Ciaran Fitzgerald was the captain for the 1983 Tour to New Zealand and he described it as the toughest place to tour. 

"I would think so from the intensity and the quality of the opposition," he told Ger Gilroy, adding: "But I would have great respect for their ability to play rugby. I would have great respect for, at the time, they all played the same level of rugby all the way up from schoolboy to youths to under-20s to senior level.

Ciaran Fitzgerald and Fergus Slattery. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"And I always marvelled...the New Zealand guys could put in a guy and he'd play the very same way. He'd ruck, body position low and they all knew what to do and I respected that very much. And also the fact that the people there were probably a bit too intense from our type of mentality in Ireland. We like a bit of fun, we like a laugh, we play hard but then we have a bit of craic afterwards. They don't have that much craic - in fact I would suggest they don't have any craic!

"But, I did admire that about them and it was an eye-opener and every week, every Saturday and every Wednesday - it was the same, the same, the same. Maybe a little bit of a step up but the intensity and the ferocity and everything and the off the ball stuff...and what amazes me about New Zealand is that they get away with it. 

"You know, they do get away with it...there was a touch of it in Lansdowne Road last Autumn. Some very, very high tackles and they get away with it. They're desperate to win matches and when you play them down there - that's even at a higher level," he added. 

Willie John McBride also told the story of the most infamous game he'd ever played in where one player ended up with 27 fractures. 

The full Lions Legends Night can be heard here:

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