Munster centre Francis Saili has gone about kicking Ireland when they are down. With Ireland coming off the back of a desperately disappointing Six Nations, Saili was asked by reporters to look ahead to Ireland's clashes with his native New Zealand this November. He is not optimistic about Ireland pulling off a first-ever victory over the All Blacks:
There’s an opportunity for Ireland to beat New Zealand in Chicago and Dublin in November. I can’t see the day coming any time soon. I can’t see it in my head. You have to be truthful, although 2013 was a very close one. You almost took us then, so there is hope. Back home in New Zealand, the skill level is a lot better than it is here.
I am just being brutally honest. What is happening back home is way up there ... it is coming through from a young age and is consistent over the years.
All a little too honest in such close proximity of the first Six Nations we haven't won since 2012. As elements of the Irish media criticise Joe Schmidt's side style of play as not being free-flowing enough to harm the brutes of the Southern Hemisphere, Saili explained why he feels there is a chasm in the style of play between Ireland and the rugby-playing denizens of the Southern Hemisphere:
The weather is a factor. Back home, you’re playing on nice sunny days, you can throw the ball around and that’s the kind of game we play... free flowing, getting offloads away, and you can see that if you’re watching the Super 15s. It’s nice to watch.
As you may have realised, Ireland have never beaten New Zealand, with a solitary draw in 1973 our best results against the World Champions. We did, of course, come heartbreakingly close to doing so in 2013, and would have but for that pesky Ryan Crotty try in the final minute. This agonising defeat was flagged in a reddit post asking for responses to the greatest shocks in rugby since 2006:
We fully agree with that last comment. While Saili is pessimistic, he is also being realistic.