/ Rugby

Quinlan backs Ireland to upset All-Blacks

Updated: Monday, 02 Jun 2008 11:51

Alan Quinlan believes there is a confidence and belief within the Irish squad to finally topple the mighty All-Blacks
Alan Quinlan believes there is a confidence and belief within the Irish squad to finally topple the mighty All-Blacks

Ireland have been quick to assume the role of underdogs for Saturday's Test against New Zealand, but that does not mean the players lack the belief they can win, according to loose forward Alan Quinlan.

Ireland have never defeated the All Blacks, home or away, in their previous 20 encounters. Their best result was a 10-10 draw at Lansdowne Road in January 1973..

'The mentality has certainly changed in Irish rugby,' he said. 'A few years ago we didn't believe we could win these games.

'It's always a hard game and the All Blacks will always be favourites when they play Ireland, but we play every game to win and Saturday will be no different.

'You need a lot of luck when you play New Zealand, especially away from home. We'll need a lot of things to go our way.

'There's confidence and a belief within the Irish players in the last number of years that if we play to our potential we certainly have a good chance.'

The Irish travelled to New Zealand two years ago for two Test matches and had opportunities to win both.

They led 16-8 at half-time in the first Test in Hamilton and were still in front going into the last quarter before Luke McAlister kicked a penalty and Troy Flavell scored the decisive try to give New Zealand a 34-24 victory.

In the second Test in Auckland a week later, New Zealand needed a try in the 70th minute from McAlister to seal the 27-17 win.

Although Quinlan did not play in either of those games, he believes the lessons taken on board from those two outings, and the fact that 11 of the starting XV from the Test in Eden Park are in this year's touring squad, will help the Irish.

He said: 'The core group of players have experienced those two Test matches in 2006. We did a lot of things right in both those games but came up short in both of them.

'We've probably learned that to get one over on the All Blacks we have to put in a massive, massive performance and get a lot of stuff right.'

Despite New Zealand undergoing something of a transition following last year's World Cup failure, Quinlan and fellow loose forward David Wallace expect the All Blacks to provide no less a challenge than in previous years.

Even without the intimidating presence of Jerry Collins in the back row, Wallace is not expecting an easy ride.

The 31-year-old said: 'New Zealand have great strength and depth and I think the guys who will come in are probably going to be just as good and probably hungrier as well.

'I don't think it's going to be any less intimidating,' he concluded.

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