New Zealand v Ireland: ‘We want to test ourselves under extreme pressure’ – Farrell

New Zealand v Ireland: 'We want to test ourselves under extreme pressure' - Farrell

Ireland head coach Farrell oversaw a training session at North Harbour Stadium on Saturday

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell says his side want to test themselves “under extreme pressure” during their five-match tour to New Zealand.

Ireland will play three Tests against the All Blacks, plus two games against the Maori All Blacks, who will be their opponents in Hamilton on Wednesday.

“It’s unbelievably tough to come over here and be successful,” said Farrell.

“Challenges are there to make us better, make us stronger and we’ve got to be ready to meet those head on.”

Farrell has selected a 40-man squad for Ireland’s first tour to New Zealand since 2012, with the three Tests scheduled for 2, 9 and 16 July and the midweek games for 29 June and 12 July.

The Irish have won three of their last five encounters with the All Blacks, including a 29-20 success at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in November.

Now they are seeking a maiden Test win in New Zealand against the three-time world champions and also a first victory over the Maori All Blacks.

“Every time you put on the Irish shirt there is always an element of nerves, hoping we can perform and be as good as we were then [in Dublin in November],” added Farrell.

“In reality the boys know that’s not going to be good enough this time round. We know what we’re coming up against and Eden Park first up, we know how special that place is to the All Blacks.

“It’s great though. We want to see ourselves under extreme pressure and how we deal with that.

“How we go after the game is pretty important for us – you can’t just sit back and hope things are going to be alright. Our mentality is going to be important.”

Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw
Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw are again expected to be big figures for Ireland in New Zealand

Ireland have been preparing at North Harbour Stadium on the outskirts of Auckland in recent days and Farrell believes this tour against formidable opposition offers a much-needed opportunity for his squad to bond in light of the cancellation of recent summer tours because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This group should have gone to Australia and Fiji in the last few years. We have some lads on 20 or so caps that have never toured before so it’s pretty important that we get away together, enjoy each other’s company, but also test ourselves against the best team in the world,” explained Farrell.

“Some lads facing the Maori All Blacks on Wednesday have been dying for a chance to play in big games and then three days later we are playing a Test.

“It doesn’t get any more challenging but it’s where we want to be at a stage where a year or so out from a World Cup you want to find out more about ourselves and this is the perfect place to do it.

“I think the moral of the story back home after the Lions Series draw here in 2012 was one of success and that was the best of the best touring these shores, so you can see what type of test it is for little old Ireland.

“We brought a big squad so that we can give people opportunities.

“Everyone will play and we are open minded enough to see how people perform in those Maori games and leave places up for grabs in the Test squad.

“We are certainly not two sides. We are one team trying to do the best we can together.”

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