Ireland can challenge New Zealand insists Declan Kidney

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The Independent Online

Head coach Declan Kidney is adamant Ireland have it within their power to ignite their autumn when they face New Zealand at Aviva Stadium tomorrow.

It has been a challenging month so far, with a narrow defeat by South Africa which failed to mask Irish inferiority followed by an unconvincing victory over Samoa.

Kidney accepts Ireland have underperformed, but believes the team have been the architects of their own downfall at times.

"We know better than anyone else that our displays have been below what we're capable of in the last two matches," Kidney said.

"We must be firing on all cylinders against New Zealand, who are at the top of their game at the moment.

"But we also know that a lot of things have gone wrong in the last two matches that are within our control that we've been working to fix."

Ireland lacked conviction against Samoa, a team ranked 11th in the world, and have been fielding questions on their obvious lack of confidence since.

Ronan O'Gara admitted shortly after the match that self-belief had taken a battering, though every player to have spoken on the subject has subsequently denied it is in an issue.

Kidney has added his own cryptic take on the matter as Ireland target a first victory against the All Blacks in 24 attempts.

"I've never met anyone who is 100% confident," he said. "Everybody doubts their ability, so by definition you could say everyone in the world lacks confidence.

"Heading into every match you need a mixture of confidence and ability. If you don't have fear, you won't front up physically.

"The more matches you win, the more confidence you have, so you have to work on the fear factor.

"If you lose, you want to make sure the fear doesn't outbalance the confidence.

"I've already alluded to the anxiety of trying too hard and I know how hard these guys are working."

Leinster half-backs Jonathan Sexton and Eoin Reddan will start ahead of the Munster axis of O'Gara and Peter Stringer.

The only change to the side defeated by South Africa is the injury-enforced absence of Tony Buckley, who has been replaced at tighthead by Tom Court.