Andy Farrell is looking to end his first tour as Ireland’s defensive coach with a series victory against South Africa.
The former England assistant joined Joe Schmidt’s set-up earlier this year but sat out the RBS Six Nations due to the terms of his contract with the RFU, making the current tour of South Africa his first involvement.
Farrell’s influence has been hailed by a host of players over the course of the last three weeks as Ireland go into the series decider in Port Elizabeth level with the Springboks.
And the former dual code international is enjoying the experience.
“It’s everything that I hoped it would be,” Farrell said.
“I said when I started, it’s a fantastic time to come into this job because of the games that we were going to go through within my first year.
“A Test series in South Africa, it really doesn’t get any harder than that.
“I think we’re in a fantastic situation now at 1-1 with a chance to win a Test series 2-1 and find out and give the players the experience of the cauldron of the Test match at the weekend to see whether we can or we can’t.
“I think it’s fantastic for the players. It’s certainly fantastic for me.
“You find out a lot about what we need to improve on and what we’ve got and what we’re doing well. We’ve certainly seen that.”
Farrell has been pleased with what he has seen from Ireland so far, particularly during the first Test win over the Springboks in Cape Town when they claimed a first victory against the hosts on South African soil despite CJ Stander’s red card.
However, Farrell believes that there is more to come.
“I don’t think we’ve set the bar anywhere yet,” he said.
“It was a heroic performance in the first Test, down to 13 and 14 men.
“It was an unbelievable performance of true grit but we’ve said to the lads this week: we’re looking for a benchmark performance to take forward and I think there’s more in us, a more complete game, and we’ll need to show that at the weekend.
“There’s plenty that we need to improve on, which is great.
“You would expect, wouldn’t you, that to win a Test series in South Africa you need to be at your best.
“We can still improve and hopefully that benchmark game is coming this weekend.”
Despite the fact that today’s game is the final act of a long season, Ireland skipper Rory Best believes his side are fully focused on the task at hand.
Four years ago, they lost 60-0 to the All Blacks in Hamilton at the end of a World Cup campaign, but the Ulster hooker reckons there are no fears of a repeat.
“It’s a massive Test match, it’s an opportunity to go out and win a Test series in South Africa,” he said.
“I think there were times when you got to the last game of the season and you’ve one foot on the beach and that’s definitely not the case now.
“Look, it’s been tough and we knew all of that but look we have one big push left, one massive 80 minutes to try and do something that no other Irish team has done and very few touring teams have done - and that’s win a Test series in South Africa.”