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Sunday 17 December 2017

Irish must be smarter in test two - O'Brien

Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien has pointed at how "clinical" the All Blacks are when they have possession. The message is clear, 'deny them ball and you deny them opportunity'.

"They are very clinical. You just can't afford to cough up soft ball to them. We have to be a lot smarter," he said, ahead of the second Test in Christchurch.

"We didn't have the ball for long periods of time and we had to make a lot of tackles in defence. It took its toll on us."

The Tullow man made a colossal 18 tackles for his country in Auckland. It merely delayed the inevitable tide of points which came with the tidal wave of possession.

He rightly brooks no argument with the theory that the Irish players are jaded after a 51-week season. This simply holds no water given the Player Management Welfare Programme.

In comparison to the English and French internationals, the Irish frontline players do not play as many games and ply their domestic trade in the PRO12 League - a world removed from France and England in terms of attrition.

"We know the schedule. We know we have another two Tests. After that, we can think about holidays or whatever but we have two games to play, two Tests, and we will be going hard.

"It is easy to lift yourself up for the world champions. This is where you want to be and who you want to test yourself against. It gives you a good idea of where you are as a rugby player."

Connacht tight-head Ronan Loughney, who made his debut as a replacement last Saturday, sees no contest between the dream of international rugby and the nightmare of suffering at the hands of the All Blacks.

"My debut was an amazing experience. It was a lifelong dream to put on the green shirt. Obviously, it was great opposition to do it against. They have been the best team in the world, on and off, for years now.

"It was a difficult result but it is good to get a taste of what that level is like. It is another step up again and I'm hoping to get another opportunity."

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