James Ryan agrees with Andy Farrell’s warning that Ireland only have to slip up once to be burned by the All Blacks.
He knows this week is different. And if he didn’t know it himself, he only had to see the reaction of loved ones when this fixture was nailed down by the IRFU.
Ryan is a laid back guy but concedes his pulse is racing faster now.
“When the All Blacks come to town you sort of feel like the whole country gets involved with it,” he said.
“Being in a full Aviva for the first time in a long while will be very good. Obviously I’ve loads of family and friends coming.
“This is the kind of game they all crawl out of the woodwork for!”.
He remembers the last meeting of the sides in Dublin, Ireland’s historic 16-9 victory, as a “special night”.
But the World Cup quarter-final loss a year later was a gut punch. That’s the one that has remained more in the memory.
“The World Cup’s the pinnacle,” he said.
“Losing in the manner we did was very tough to take so it takes time to go away.
“We’re on a bit of a journey now, we’ve learned the lessons over the past few years and trying to take them forward.
“That’s why I tend to think of that game rather than the game in 2018.”
The 25-year-old said: “We can’t miss a moment. That’s the mantra that we’ve touched on the last few weeks.
“That comes in everything – our attack, our defence, our energy, our bench is massive this week, how we make each other feel, how we make the guys next to us feel is huge.
“If you switch off for a split-second, that’s all they need to get into the game.
“We’ve got to be as connected and as focused for the full 80 minutes as we probably have needed to be as a group.”
Ryan believes it represents the biggest challenge Ireland have faced in two years under Farrell’s stewardship.
And there will be three more shots at the All Blacks on their turf next summer.
“We’ll get a good idea of where we sit,” he said. “I said to the lads that they’re a team we’ll get to know pretty well this season, which will be good for us in the long term.
“We’ve just touched on the step up that it is.
“They’re one of the top one or two in the world, so we’ve mentioned that everything we’ve done up to this point won’t be good enough with these guys.”
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