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Friday 24 November 2017

Coetzee: Ireland could be All Blacks of Europe

Head coach Allister Coetzee. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Head coach Allister Coetzee. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

South African coach Allister Coetzee has dressed Ireland up as the All Blacks of Europe ahead of the Test match at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening (KO 5.30).

He followed this by showering Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton with the kind of praise that will ensure they will be singled out for special treatment.

"Every Test we play is about making sure we improve as a group and it's making sure that the playing process is followed towards 2019," said the head coach.

Captain Eben Etsebeth has recovered from an ankle injury to lead from the front.

This international will take place in the afterglow of the Springboks finest performance for some time against the world champions in Cape Town, albeit a losing one.

"It's an important autumn series for us, to make sure that the Test we played last against New Zealand, that's the standard basically.

"For us, it's important because we have a huge respect for Ireland, they are a quality side.

"It's almost close to your All Blacks side in Europe."

It would seem Coetzee hangs much of the reason for this on the influence of half-backs Murray and Sexton. If you look at their history against the All Blacks, I think they've won three of the last four and it says a lot."

Coach Joe Schmidt had 37 of the 38 personnel involved in the extended squad. Leinster's Adam Byrne, Dan Leavy, Dave Kearney and Andrew Porter and Munster's Chris Farrell, Ian Keatley, Darren Sweetnam returned unscathed from PRO14 action. Kieran Treadwell will be in camp tomorrow after Ulster's flight from South Africa was delayed.

As a footnote, Leinster Academy players Cormac Daly, Harry Byrne, Myles Carey, Tommy O'Brien, Gavin Mullin, Peter Sullivan, Tom Roche and Jack Kelly were all drafted in for an invaluable experience last week.

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