Best tips Fitzpatrick to shine in tests

Published Friday, 08 June 2012
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As Ireland prepare to face New Zealand in their own back yard, hooker Rory Best has tipped Ulster team-mate Declan Fitzpatrick to shine on his international debut.

Best tips Fitzpatrick to shine in tests
Ireland face New Zealand this weekend. (© Getty)

Saturday's test match at Eden Park will be the first of three for the Irish - and they face a difficult challenge against the reigning world champions.

Best will be scrumming down with newcomer Fitzpatrick against the likes of Tony Woodcock and Owen Franks for the All Blacks.

However he says he is looking forward to the prospect after being impressed by the tighthead prop's attitude at provincial level.

"They have a lot of experience, we have Declan coming through. He knows that it will be a massive step up again," said Best.

"But questions were posed before the Heineken Cup semi-final when we (Ulster) lost John Afoa but Declan stepped up that day.

"I've played a lot of rugby alongside Declan, right from under-age groups through to Ulster. It will be a massive day for him but that is what Test debuts are all about and there will be no bigger day for him than this.

"It takes a lot to ruffle Deccie. He has been through a lot to get to this place but hopefully he seizes it with both hands. He is a quality player and I am looking forward to seeing him on this stage."

Best's international bow came against New Zealand was at Lansdowne Road in 2005 and he has now played against them on four occasions.

The 29-year-old recognises the challenge the Irish face this weekend as they try to overcome a team they have never beaten in 24 encounters - but he's optimistic.

"They are obviously a quality unit but we are closing the gap and we want it closed," he said.

"It is a strange one from an Irish point of view as they are the only top-tier team we haven't beaten. We see ourselves as a very good team.

"We have a lot of faith in the ability of this squad. We have done all our homework on the All Blacks but need to get our stuff right.

"We would not turn up tomorrow if we were not confident of winning. It is going to be a great challenge but that is what you want to do.

"You want to pit yourself against the best in their own back yard."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Gary in Belfast wrote (966 days ago):
It would be good if the writer of this article new something about local rugby and call Declan by his proper name Fitzpatrick
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