Ireland wing Jacob Stockdale says they will not be putting the All Blacks on a pedestal when they clash in Dublin on Saturday.
Stockdale, who only made his Ireland debut last year, grew up idolising the All Blacks. However, the 2018 Six Nations Player of the Year says he needs to see the All Blacks like any other opponent.
‘There’s a whole reel of players, Dan Carter was probably the biggest player in the world when I was growing up,’ Stockdale told the Irish Examiner.
‘They’ve got these guys who are legends of the game, so they’re obviously a bit different to any other team you play, but at the same time, we’re No 2 in the world at the moment and we can’t just be looking at them like they’re a group of legends.’
Stockdale paid credit to coach Joe Schmidt for the shift in mentality that has allowed Ireland to see themselves as one of the world’s best teams.
‘Where we’ve come in Irish rugby, we have changed, the team has changed to the point where we’re one of the biggest teams in the world.
‘We’re right up there mixing it with the very best and I think that’s not only testament to Joe [Schmidt] but to the coaching staff around him and the squad.’
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