New Zealand 12-23 Ireland: Irish ‘back themselves against anyone’ – Andy Farrell

New Zealand 12-23 Ireland: Irish 'back themselves against anyone' - Andy Farrell

Ireland have won four of the last seven meetings against New Zealand having never beaten them before 2016

Head coach Andy Farrell says Ireland “back themselves against anyone” after they beat the All Blacks in New Zealand for the first time to set up a series decider in Wellington on Saturday.

Ireland lost the first Test 42-19 in Auckland but comfortably defeated their 14-man hosts in Dunedin.

Farrell is braced for a Kiwi backlash but insists his side will approach the Wellington finale brimming with belief.

“We always get a response, don’t we?” he said.

“Everyone knows that, history tells you that. We’re used to it by now. We’ll look forward to that.

“We’ve created a little bit of history for ourselves, little old Ireland, but we’ve earned the right to take it to the last weekend to see what we can do in the final week.

“The players back themselves against anyone and the more we can keep giving them these occasions of playing the best teams in the world, the better they’re going to get.”

Having taken the lead through Andrew Porter’s third-minute try, Ireland did not trail at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium as they delivered a stylish 80-minute performance to keep the series alive.

The Irish also benefited from playing against 14 men for much of the second Test following Angus Ta’avao’s 31st-minute red card, which followed fellow All Blacks Leicester Fainga’anuku and Ofa Tu’ungafasi being sin-binned.

And while Ireland absorbed some pressure in the second half, Farrell said he was heartened by the growing composure within his ranks.

“I suppose the most impressive thing that we are doing pretty well at this moment in time is understanding where we’re at, each moment at a time and staying calm and not getting too overawed or frustrated with errors or decisions or not executing,” added the 47-year-old.

“We’re pretty good at trying to stay neutral and stay on task and it’s helping us to play in these big games and compete.”

Andrew Porter with Tadhg Beirne after the game
Leinster prop Andrew Porter (left) scored both of Ireland’s tries in Dunedin

Farrell is expected to give his fringe players a run-out at Wellington’s Sky Stadium against the Maori All Blacks on Tuesday before the decisive third Test.

“There are bigger things to think about in regard of this tour for us,” said Farrell, whose second string lost 32-17 to the Maoris on 29 June in Hamilton.

“We’ve some young lads in that changing room that have been inspired by these lot (the Test team), who want to get back out there again on Tuesday night and perform well against the Maoris.

“These lads have taken a lot of pain, that’s what we’ve put them under, the pressure of taking them out of their comfort zone.

“The weeks have been totally different to what they’ve been used to before because of us trying to play five games in such a short space of time and there’s been no whinging.

“They’ve been mentally really tough and they’ll back the lads up as well to make sure they’re in good form for Tuesday night.”

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