Malcolm O’Kelly still has vivid memories of Ireland’s Test against South Africa two years ago.
The hosts 17-12 triumph at Lansdowne Road was only their second win over the Springboks, the initial victory coming in 1965, and left Jake White choking on his impertinent statement that only three Irish players would get into his Bok side.
Perhaps White’s assessment of Ireland was skewed by his side’s impressive Tri-Nations showing but it certainly acted as a motivation for the Irish who were determined to prove him wrong.
O’Kelly, who had 66 caps at that stage, remembers the comments well, but doesn’t believe they were designed to insult. He did however stress that it had given his side the impetus they needed ahead of the November Test.
“He was being very honest,” O’Kelly told the Irish Independent. “But, typically Irish, we’ll use anything to drive us on.
“Whatever White said, he probably regretted. He had confidence in his own team, that, I believe, was what he based his comments on.
“I think every coach should have that confidence in his team. But it did help us a bit in our preparation, it gave us a little bit more anger.”
Predictably, White has been far more conservative in his views on this installment of their Irish sojourn, even going to the extreme of suggesting that the match would be the sternest test of his relatively inexperienced side.
O’Kelly believes Saturday’s Test is likely to mimic their last encounter. “It should be another great game,” emphasised O’Kelly.
“It was also a great defensive effort and I’d imagine that it will be something similar on Saturday.”
Easterby rejects the notion that the Boks will be a soft target considering that they have opted to rest key players and added that they were braced for an almighty tussle.
“They beat the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations and that takes some doing,” he said. “They are a new side with a few new faces. But the guys coming in will be as good as, if not better, than the guys they have replaced.”