Ireland winger  Andrew Conway makes a break for the opening try during the Guinness Series match against South Africa  at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland 38 South Africa 3 In the end it was a pummelling, but Ireland had to put in plenty of hard graft and tackles before decorating the game with (...)

Bundee Aki at the Ireland rugby squad training centre at Carton House, Co Kildare. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

During my apprenticeship, I was told by Ronan O’Gara to think three or four phases ahead after any set piece attack. Playing international rugby nowad(...)

15 Jared Payne Serene for an hour, proving once again that he must remain as the Ireland fullback, but like many backs became irrelevant as Springb(...)

Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray looks to run past the attempted tackle of South Africa openside Siya Kolisi during the second Test at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

South Africa 32 Ireland 26 For the best of an hour, Ireland had played so well that they were fully worthy of their 26-10 lead and were within 20 min(...)

New Zealand centre Ma’a Nonu (left) and wing Julian Savea take part in a training session at the Pennyhill Park Hotel in London on Thursday ahead of their World Cup final against New Zealand at Twickenham. Photograph: Getty Images.

Ma’a Nonu has always been a phenomenon but maintaining that explosiveness, or being bothered to live up to his talent, took a little longer. The eye (...)

Dan Carter is the complete player. His tactical kicking, his passing, his defending were all on the money against South Africa at Twickenham. Photograph: Martin Bureau/AFP/Getty Images

On the evidence of the past fortnight New Zealand would beat Australia by 20 points if Saturday’s game was anything other than a World Cup final. Ever(...)