Player by player analysis following three-Test series
Rob Kearney (Played three).
Was given more work defensively in the first and third Tests than he was in the entire Six Nations, saving a brace of tries in the first game, and despite looking utterly frustrated somehow managed to maintain his quality and energy in a rapidly sinking ship.
Fergus McFadden (Played three, one try).
One of the Ireland’s two try scorers constituted a rare high. His willingness cannot be faulted but was left horribly exposed in both Tests, especially the first. Scarred by this experience, would probably be better at centre.
Brian O’Driscoll (three).
Off the pace and out of position in the first Test, barnstorming in the second, a rare bad day in the third when his offloads looked forced in Ireland’s underdeveloped offloading game. This time leaves NZ with mental scars but will bounce back.
Keith Earls (two).
Ireland’s most threatening runner performed credibly in the first Test, missed the second with a pectoral tear, recovered to reluctantly play on the left, and Saturday’s experience won’t have endeared him to the position.
Gordon D’Arcy (one).
Stepped into the breach for the second Test in Earls’ absence, tackled (Sonny Bill Williams was largely nullified) and passed especially well, and allowed O’Driscoll to rediscover his mojo – which he might have anyway – before a groin injury ended his tour. Wow, was he missed.
Paddy Wallace (one).
Pitched into the third Test three days after answering an SOS from his family holidays in Portugal and struggled to cope with the high intensity and tempo the All Blacks set. Drew the shortest straw of all.
Darren Cave (0 +1R).
A trying eight minutes with the game long since up in Eden Park, during which he conceded a penalty for tugging off the ball and was sucked in for Conrad Smith’s try. Needs to learn from this experience.
Simon Zebo (one).
A real talent with pace and strength to burn, and an eye for the try line who has made rapid strides this season, but exposed to this level in the first Test when he missed four tackles. Needs to make this a huge benchmark in his career, and improve his conditioning and defence.
Andrew Trimble (one +1R).
Didn’t show the same footwork and elusiveness as he did on last visit here three years ago and hasn’t been in the best of form but was reasonably effective in the second Test and can feel aggrieved at his treatment. Why on earth wasn’t he played on the right wing even once?