Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Andy Farrell has liberated the Ireland players from Joe Schmidt | Andy Dunne

Former Leinster and Connacht out-half Andy Dunne believes that Andy Farrell has liberated his squad and allowed them to earn the respect of New Zealand.

Former Leinster and Connacht out-half Andy Dunne joined OTB Sport's Aisling O'Reilly to discuss Ireland and Andy Farrell.

Ireland beat New Zealand for the third time since 2016. The third time in history.

The game finished 29-20, but New Zealand were lucky to be so close. James Lowe, Ronan Kelleher and Caelan Doris scored tries for Ireland. New Zealand scored tries through Codie Taylor and Will Jordan. Ireland's forward pack dominated upfront while the back line was able to pull New Zealand in different directions.

Andy Dunne notes that this was a very different performance from Ireland's last victory over New Zealand in Dublin.

"We beat them in 2018 playing a very different way," Dunne said.

"In 2018 we played some brilliant set-piece plays. A whole lot of heart and effort and physicality, with physical exertion and spirit. Today we had all those things but what we had was creativity. It looks like a team that is liberated in terms of their attacking play.

"These fellas are courageous."

Jonathan Sexton was on the field for Ireland. He was an integral piece of the backline as he always is. But Ireland created through Hugo Keenan and Garry Ringrose also. Bundee Aki showed off his range of passing to great effect. Ireland were not relying on a kicking game nor were they only allowing Sexton to take risks.

Andy Farrell allowed his team to play off-the-cuff rugby but also implemented structured attacking designs away from set pieces.

The set pieces were still sound and the physicality was still there. Ronan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong and Andrew Porter dominated in the front row. James Ryan and Iain Henderson matched their counterparts in the second row. There was no competition between the two back rows. Ireland dominated.

Ireland's style of play perfectly blended the different qualities of the team.

"If you ask a workhorse to run into a brick wall 10 times he'll do it. I think these fellas are being asked to run into a brick wall three times and the other five or six times they're being asked to look for space. That seems to have empowered them. It seems to have freed them up in terms of their athleticism, their natural skill.

"I think the management deserves huge credit for making a fundamental shift in how Irish rugby teams are playing now. It's a great follow-on from that first half in Japan."

Joe Schmidt built the foundations of this team so he deserves a lot of credit. Schmidt developed many of the players who started and came off the bench. The older players in the squad spent their primes under Schmidt. He was a stubborn, rigid coach but also a very good coach to a point.

Andy Farrell was part of that Ireland coaching staff so he carries over relationships with those players. But Farrell is now in position to connect with the younger players coming through. Dunne notes that you can see those younger players enjoying themselves in this squad.

Schmidt's teams had success but excitement wasn't a word associated with them, so that stood out to Dunne.

"It was interesting to hear Caelan Doris' interview after the game. He said they're enjoying their rugby. It's a long time since I've heard that from an Irish player. I think players have said the right things and put their heads down and been industrious, but you can actually see there's a level of enjoyment there.

"And why wouldn't there be?

"If you're asked to attack space and you're asked to express yourself on the field, with that level of empowerment what you're going to get with this calibre of players, they're not going to let you down. The shackles have been taken off them a bit. Joe Schmidt deserves a lot of credit for what he did for Irish rugby but also the criticisms were that he tried to control every facet of the play.

"It doesn't look like the management are doing that with this team. They're allowed to go out and make mistakes. They're allowed go out and take risks. It shows in how they carry themselves around the field. The energy levels never disappeared."

Ireland beat New Zealand in previous games. In 2016, Ireland shocked them in Chicago. It wasn't seen as a watershed moment despite it being a historic result. In 2018, the perception was that New Zealand were at a low ebb so the result wasn't a surprise.

This New Zealand team is good. It's very, very good. Ireland didn't catch them out. And even though Beauden Barrett was injured, New Zealand have no argument against the fact that they were simply outplayed and overwhelmed.

"29-20 arguably flattered New Zealand. We had over 70% of possession and territory in the first wasn't plucky. It was entirely deserved. It was a game where we deconstructed a side like New Zealand and thoroughly deserved to win. It's just hugely, hugely refreshing."

Dunne believes this will be the first time New Zealand see Ireland as a true peer.

"I'm not so sure they had a newfound respect going into the game. I think deep down there was a level of arrogance in New Zealand that last time in 2018 was a blip, because they gave us a good old-fashioned hiding in the World Cup. They perhaps felt that revert to type and that normal order was restored.

"I think this is a game that's really going to make the All Blacks...finally look at Ireland as a peer."

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