Justin Marshall: Replicate Christchurch without ‘choking’ and Ireland could win

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Justin Marshall: Replicate Christchurch without ‘choking’ and Ireland could win
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Justin Marshall: Replicate Christchurch without ‘choking’ and Ireland could win

Justin marshall played Ireland three times during his 81 Test career with New Zealand and never came close to being upset.

He scored a try in a 63-15 rout at Lansdowne Road [1997], and started at scrum-half for a two-game swing in 2002 when the All Blacks saw off the tourists 15-6 and 40-8. He retired from international rugby in 2005 after helping his country to a 3-0 series win over the British & Irish Lions.

He took his rugby boots to Wales soon after and taught Mike Phillips a thing or two about scrum-half swagger at Ospreys. He finished out his career with season-long stints at Saracens and Ospreys before returning to New Zealand to take up commentary work with Sky.

It was in his commentary role, at a chilly AMI Stadium in Christchurch last June, that Marshall witnessed the All Blacks pushed to the brink by Ireland. Inspired by Conor Murray and Sean O’Brien, Ireland led the second Test of their three-match tour 10-9 at the break. With the Kiwis reduced to 14 men with six minutes to go, Jonathan Sexton missed a penalty from the halfway line. The home side rallied and Dan Carter got a late drop goal to snatch a 22-19 win.

“That was a game that Ireland should have won but they choked,” Marshall told TheScore.ie. “They had New Zealand where they wanted them but did not show any composure.”

He added, “That is actually a game that Ireland should be studying closely on the video-tape this week. They got into so many scoring positions in that game but didn’t take their opportunities. They should see how they unsettled the All Blacks in that game, especially at the breakdown, and replicated.

“They were brave in that game and took risks. If they can do the same, with the match at home — and with the added motivational factor of it being Brian O’Driscoll’s last game — they must have a chance.”

Dan Carter drops a last-minute drop goal to break Irish hearts in 2012. INPHO/Billy Stickland

The All Blacks live to win rugby games but they appreciate being pushed to their limits in securing victory. Marshall expects Ireland to throw every last punch at their guests and feels a rousing Irish performance must be in reserve.

He said, “I was surprised to see how easy Australia won last week. When I saw the Ireland team, on paper, I thought they would give the Aussies a run for their money.

I got the sense that most of their big guys were not playing to their potential. I’d imagine they’ll be a hell of a lot better against New Zealand. Joe Schmidt knows the ins and outs of that team and knows how they’ll like to play.”

Marshall believes the Australia game ‘did not go his way’ for Brian O’Driscoll but expects the world-class operator to give his all in a desperate effort to knock over the world champions.

The other Irish dangermen, says the former Crusader, are the “exceptional” Tommy Bowe, Cian Healy — he’s got some great skills for a prop — and Sean O’Brien. When speaking about the Tullow Tank, Marshall and former Ireland openside David Wallace are in agreement on where he would be best suited in the Irish back row.

“O’Brien is a very good player but I wonder if he is playing in the right position. I think he would be best at No.8. He is brutally strong and a great ball carrier that commits defences and gets over the advantage line.”

Marshall spins a pass during New Zealand’s 15-6 win over Ireland in 2002. INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ex New Zealand International scrum-half Justin Marshall was in Dublin to announce an incredible prize on the Guinness Plus App. For the New Zealand match, Guinness Plus is giving rugby fans the chance to win the opportunity for them and three friends to enjoy a pint and talk all things rugby with Irish International legend Keith Wood at their local pub.

For a chance to win people simply need to download the Guinness Plus App and ‘check-in’ to their local participating pub on Sunday, 24 November before 11.59pm. The Guinness Plus App is available to download for iPhone and Android Smartphones from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store now.

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