Trust between players and coaching staff paves way for success in New Zealand – The Irish Times


Offering an informed opinion from outside a team is invariably trickier when unaware of the important conversations and decisions within the group, those that turn a group of players from losers to winners in a short time. time without too many visible changes.

The consensus, of which I was a vocal member, was that Ireland would not win the second Test due to performance issues stemming from Eden Park. New Zealand would be better and Andy Farrell’s side would be a bit more mentally and physically anxious, further reducing their ability to cause an upset.

Local media, especially broadcasters, felt that while Ireland were a good team, they could not afford to win on New Zealand soil. I don’t know if it seeped into the consciousness of the All Blacks, but they were nowhere near the level required or expected. They got trapped in a cul-de-sac of indiscipline with no way to turn around.

While I played against them – those New Zealand players and teams from 2005 to 2012 were some of the greatest ever to wear the silver fern – we produced performances that genuinely stressed the All Blacks, but we had none not enough in the tank to be able to see it all the way to victory.

My view on the likely outcome of the second test was based on my experiences playing under similar circumstances. I was delighted to be wrong as this team shattered the penultimate glass ceiling – beating New Zealand in a World Cup tournament is last on a to-do list – in their rivalry against head to head with the All Blacks.

In Dave Remnick’s book, King of the World: Muhammad Ali and the rise of the American hero, there’s a great segment that reveals how world heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson was paralyzed with fear at times.

His trainer Cus D’Amato lectured his boxers on the principle “that all other things being equal, the fighter who understands his own fears, manipulates them, uses them to his advantage, would win”. D’Amato’s biggest regret was not being able to help Patterson embrace and use his fear to win.

The relationship between a coach and players can be precarious, subject to violent mood swings in the mood music based on victory and defeat, but respect, honesty and inclusiveness are at the heart of collaborations the most successful. Developing a game philosophy should be a shared endeavor between coach and players. if this balance is distorted one way or the other, it can ruin this harmony.

What is abundantly clear is that Andy Farrell and his coaching staff have a great relationship with their squad of players. This reinforces the idea that coaching the person is arguably as important, if not more important, than the tactics. The coaching cohort clearly has the confidence of these players.

I’ve been coached superbly, coached poorly and everything in between and I believe that very successful coaches take time to understand and appreciate the diverse personalities and qualities of the people they work with. By choosing an almost identical Irish team for the second Test, it demonstrated significant trust and confidence from the coaching staff in the players.

Niamh Briggs argued last week that it’s a morale boost to have the support of a coach after underperforming in a game. The alternative is a coach handing out ultimatums: “Step up or I’ll find someone who will.” It was a familiar refrain in certain setups when I was a gamer and was rarely effective as a psychological gambit, creating uncertainty more than anything else.

Farrell encouraged his players to perform and drew a huge response from players like Tadhg Beirne, Caelan Doris and James Ryan who weren’t at their best seven days earlier. Beirne benefited from last week’s physical blowout after a long layoff and was everywhere last weekend from the time he took that break in midfield in the build-up to Andrew Porter’s first try .

The same can be said of Ryan and Doris, who both made individual contributions that helped others grow in the game. Under the watchful eyes of Paul O’Connell and John Fogarty, Ireland repaired a piece stopped which had malfunctioned during the first test.

It was Ireland who were the first to intimidate the free kick, which kept New Zealand clear of the 22 visitors in the first half hour of the game. Ryan was aggressive through the air on the New Zealand throw and there was more energy and momentum to his game. Sam Whitelock was a huge loss for the All Blacks.

The coaching staff of Ireland is the best collective. By reviewing areas for correction, coach and player come together to find a solution and agree on an approach. I believe there is complete confidence in the game plan in the Irish side, one that has evolved from a difficult start to where it is, playing for a series win in New Zealand.

The occasional speed bump aside, the mantra emanating from camp about the evolutionary process has been relentlessly positive and consistent without feeling forced or contrived. There has been diligent development in the building blocks of the game: attack, defense, breakdown and set piece.

Ireland has sometimes been a joy to watch. The philosophy in attack is not that difficult to discern, it is quite simple but it comes with a huge sense of commitment. Ireland are playing at pace and with variety down the line. The way Farrell’s team identified and isolated the New Zealand front line in open play was too consistent to be a coincidence.

Ireland managed to separate their opponents at crucial moments and the only downside was that they weren’t that bit more precise and composed when playing with a two-man advantage. Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony featured prominently, with the Munster captain putting in one of his best performances in a green shirt.

He played without fear, summoning an emotional energy that is often the preserve of those who understand and are at peace with the playing trajectory of their career.

Pete is 32: I had a similar experience when I was 33 against the All Blacks at the Aviva stadium. I knew I would probably never face them again and put on one of my best performances. A bit like Edith Piaf, I didn’t want any regrets. Johnny Sexton has been excellent at defining Ireland’s attacking form, choosing wisely for the most part.

Compare that to what is happening in the New Zealand camp, where head coach Ian Foster was pushed over the edge. They’re not the All Blacks’ best team, but there doesn’t seem to be a strong bond between players and coaches, a bond that can help turn a good team into a great one.

The skills of the New Zealand players ensure that they don’t need a lot of coaching at Test level, just with a framework of play that allows them to bring that talent to the opposition.

When I reviewed the All Blacks there was more time spent on individuals rather than their systems because they had so many quality players. There doesn’t seem to be the same feeling with this team, highlighted by a lack of depth in the tight five and serious questions over who is best suited to fill in the iconic, pivotal 13 shirt.

Foster will seek to address disciplinary issues that were completely unacceptable in Dunedin, demand improved accuracy and aim to restore a sense of calm within the All Blacks ranks. They panicked on the last day and can’t afford to do it again.

Farrell again found the right tone in what he said this week. It’s so important to save last weekend’s achievement and give everything to the cause on Saturday. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cherish. For 80 minutes in Wellington, nothing else matters.


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