Best hopes referee Peyper is on tune
Ireland’s hopes of backing up the historic win over New Zealand a fortnight ago could rest in today’s match referee Jaco Peyper being less harsh on them than he was in the Six Nations defeat to France, says captain Rory Best.
The South African official’s penalising of the Irish scrum, his error in calling a knock on in an Irish try when the ball came off the midriff not the hands of Robbie Henshaw, and failing in coach Joe Schmidt’s eyes to sin bin two French players for a late hit on Jonathan Sexton and a high tackle on Dave Kearney left a sour taste in the losing side’s mouth back in February. However, Best said he hoped the match would be free of such contentious issues as the Irish seek to become the first side since South Africa in 2009 to win back to back Tests against the world champions. “We had a few angling issues last time (with Peyper) at the scrum,” said the 34-yearold hooker, who will win his 99th cap. “The All Blacks, though, are a different style of scrum to the French. “We’ll have a lot of confidence in him as a referee and hope he can produce because we don’t intend to change anything in the way we are disciplined... we have no intention of changing from two weeks ago.” All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who despite the bookies dictating otherwise claimed his side were the underdogs going into the game after losing for the first time in 29 Test meetings stretching over 111 years to the Irish in Chicago, said he was looking to the Kiwis’ characteristic of resilience to see them bounce back. “There’s a lot of resilience in New Zealand and a lot of earthquakes,” Hansen told the Daily Mail. “That’s (resilience) been passed down through generations, being looked down on as colonials-that created a fierce determination for the early All Blacks teams. “Those standards have created a legacy for today’s All Blacks. We’re only passing through.
“None of us earn the jersey. The responsibility is to make sure the jersey is better than how you found it.”
Ireland assistant coach Greg Feek knows exactly what Hansen is referring o as he wore the All Blacks jersey 10 times as a prop and was part of the 1999 World Cup squad that lost sensationally to France in the World Cup semi-final. “I remember getting back after the ‘99 World Cup, a few guys said what are you coming back here so early for because we had failed. “It’s moments like that where you realise the weight in terms of expectations.”
As if there wasn’t enough emotion surrounding the game at Lansdowne Road two late great players for each side will be prominent in their thoughts. Legendary wing Jonah Lomu was also part of that 1999 All Blacks side and the fact the anniversary of his death a year ago-after years of battling kidney disease-fell on the eve of the match focussed a lot of the present squad’s thoughts on him.
“He was an inspiring man, he went through a lot of his own personal battles and faced a lot of adversity in his life away from rugby,” said second choice fly-half Aaron Cruden.
“Hopefully the boys use a bit of that on the field.” For the Irish there will be no repeat of forming the figure 8 — in memory of Munster coach and former No8 Anthony ‘Axel’ Foley who died in October aged 42 — like they did in Chicago as the All Blacks performed the haka. “Of course he will forever be in our minds,” said Best. —AFP