LES KISS CALLED the planning of it superb and there were few arguments against.
Declan Kidney is well known for his meticulous preparations and it was no mistake that Ireland journeyed to Queenstown for five days after the draining second Test against the All Blacks.
Stunning scenery, laid-back locals, crisp, clear weather and plenty of sustenance at Fergburger – the perfect spot to recharge the batteries.
The Irish players are nearing the end of an 11-month season but are confident that they have enough gas sloshing around the tank to charge headlong, one last time, into the world champion All Blacks.
The mood in the camp, from Sunday to Thursday, changed from gutted to serenely positive.
Kidney was in good form as he announced the team for the third Test and even lingered nearby as Keith Earls gave an interview, coughing ‘Bullsh*t’ before scurrying off with a smile on his face.
Chance to end on a high
Brian O’Driscoll cracked a joke about the ability of Aaron Cruden to replace the injured Dan Carter – ‘They managed OK in the World Cup, didn’t they?’ – but his determination to defeat the All Blacks has shone through all week.
Saturday’s match will be the 18th time the Irish captain has lined out in a senior fixture in New Zealand.
He has five wins – two with the British and Irish Lions (Bay of Plenty, Wellington) and three at the World Cup with Ireland (USA, Italy and Australia).
There have been 12 losses, including the World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales and a 19-13 upset by the New Zealand Maori when he captained the Lions.
The Lions then lost the first Test, after O’Driscoll was spear-tackled early on, and there have been nine turnovers, playing for Ireland, by the All Blacks.
You can be sure that the talismanic centre will leave every ounce of effort and perspiration on the Waikato Stadium pitch to get that elusive win in the green jersey.
If the Irish team were hoping for further, breath-taking vistas to propel them towards Saturday’s Test match, downtown Hamilton is not providing them.
Winger Fergus McFadden was quick to tweet a view from his hotel room in a town that endures the nicknames of ‘The Tron’ and ‘Cowtown‘.
Irish supporters will be hoping that McFadden is as quick on the wings as he is to unleash his wit and typing fingers.
As for the rugby, here is what the Leinster man had to say at the Irish Captain’s Run on Friday:
Overall, as a team, we definitely stood up to them better at the breakdown and defensively; only conceding one try.
Personally, I would have liked to have got my hands on the ball a bit more, it was a wet night. It was one of nights for a winger when you do get your hands on the ball, you have to make it count.
*You can follow all the latest news, comments and goings on from the Irish camp by following @patmccarry on Twitter and by regularly checking in with TheScore.ie.