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Smal buoyed by Irish atmosphere

Forwards coach Gert Smal insists the atmosphere in Ireland's camp is good with the team invigorated by the prospect of Saturday's clash with New Zealand.

Declan Kidney names his side to face the All Blacks at Aviva Stadium at lunchtime on Thursday with the make-up of the pack and half-backs uncertain. The Irish have never beaten New Zealand in 23 previous attempts but Smal believes they are capable of ending that barren run.

"This is just my personal experience but there is a lot of negativity around the team at the moment," he said. "A lot of things being said about the players' confidence, but I really don't feel it being in the team environment."

Smal added: "This is where composure comes into it because what you don't want to have is too much fear and you don't want to have too much confidence, so you have to get that balance.

"Playing against the number one team in the world there will be plenty of motivation. The players will also back themselves and there is a lot confidence that we can take them on."

Smal has drawn encouragement from Ireland's 66-28 defeat by New Zealand in June, when they overcame the sending off of Jamie Heaslip to score a flurry of second-half tries.

"The danger of New Zealand is that they have a lot of brilliant individuals. If you let them play they can hurt you," he said.

"We proved, even with 14 men, during the summer tour that if you attack them there are opportunities for tries.

"There weren't a lot of teams that scored four tries against the All Blacks up to that stage. We should not wait to see what they can do to us. It is important that we have a mindset to attack them.

"To beat the All Blacks you have to be on top of your game. You have to go and fetch it in some places where you have never been before. That is what it takes to beat the All Blacks."


From Belfast Telegraph