THE Irish are at a crossroads.
Straight ahead, the sign says, is a rocky road to a historic first series win in SA, and their first in the southern hemisphere since their tour to Australia in 1979, with the Springboks standing in their way.
To the left is a lonely path home, carrying what would feel like a consolation prize of having won their first match in SA, 26-20 at Newlands two weeks ago.
They have been the better side for a game-and-a-half so far this series and it would be a crushing blow if they exit stage left.
As such, the significance of Saturday’s series-deciding Test against the Boks at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is certainly not lost on their players.
“It’s important to get some perspective back and remember that we still have a great opportunity to create a bit of history,” said Irish winger Andrew Trimble.
“We are probably more aware now of how tough it’s going to be to achieve that than we have been prior to this week. The Springboks are physical, fast and whenever they click, they are very difficult to stop — three phases in a row make it difficult for you to turn possession over,” he said.
Lock Devin Toner, the tallest man in this series at 2.1m, said the stakes riding on this game were at the back of the players’ minds, but would not distract from the way they intended to play.