While Declan Kidney commented that he was "glad" Samoa were not in Ireland's world cup group, his next opponents were laying siege to the Scottish line. The All Blacks eventually won 3-49 at Murrayfield, as the new star of New Zealand rugby, Sonny-Bill Williams, arrived on the international scene.

 "In the end we probably felt we were worth our win," said O'Driscol following the Samoa game. "It's a lot easier being in the winning one than a losing one, irrespective of the manner you lose in. It's nice to be back in winning ways. It is nice to remind ourselves what that feeling is like and no better week to do it than coming in to face a test match against the All Blacks." 

Although Ireland are back to winning ways, two unconvincing performances (against South Africa and Samoa) are not the ideal preparation for the arrival of the biggest rugby show in town - the All Blacks. But, is it an indication of where the team has come under Kidney. 

The last World Cup showed Ireland had little strength in depth, if any. That has changed under Kidney's guidance. While Ronan O'Gara had little competition for that out half position under Eddie O'Sullivan, Jonathan Sexton has become a reliable alternative. Ian Humphries and Ian Keatley may also challenge in the future.

 During his tenure, Ireland have not only become Six Nations and Grand Slam champions (2009), but Kidney has developed a squad that, on its day, can compete with the best. At present there are viable replacements all around the field if/when injury restricts Kidney's first choice. The only problem for Kidney is time. In trying to develop, the players need time to create playing relationships between new players. 

"We are not exactly firing on all cylinders," said Kidney, "to the extent that we are probably turning over a bit more ball than we want to, but we are having a go at it and when you are trying to develop, if you don't try things you are never going to learn, (and) to get things exactly right.  

We all know we can be hanging onto the ball better than we are doing but we have to try things. I would prefer to try things and make a few mistakes than not try stuff and I think that is where we are at the moment." 

When quizzed on what those "things" were, Kidney replied: "We are trying to play with the ball in hand a little bit more rather than kicking it as much as we did before. Obviously you need to be strong at set pieces to go with that.

"You are looking to have options to the right and left hand side and then it depends on how your breakdown goes, and depending on the tempo of the ball you are getting. So we know there are three areas we need to work on which are - base handling, our accuracy at the breakdown and being in the set piece as we possibly can." 

But after an unconvincing win against Samoa, preceded by six successive defeats, is there another level which this Irish 'Golden generation' can find against the All Blacks? 

"Absolutely," was the response of Luke Fitzgerald. "You only have to look at the strike runners we have available to us and the playmakers on the inside. Its just about getting one of those days where everything clicks and then you (the media) can get off our backs," said Fitzgerald with a laugh. 

"I don't think it is a matter of playing a different type of game. You always have to go up a notch against them. They have been consistently the best team in the World since I don't even know since when. Everyone is really excited about the opportunity next week," concluded the 23 year-old.

Facing the All Blacks is a true test of how far this team has come under Kidney. Teams take time for partnerships to develop and for the team to become consistent. Kidney's dilemma is that he needs to develop a squad that can challenge at next years world cup.

His players need to find their feet quickly. Otherwise, while a cricket score similar to that New Zealand notched up against Scotland is unlikely, it could be a very long day at the office for Kidney and Ireland this Saturday.

Benson Stanley of the All Blacks is tackled by David Wallace of Ireland during the International rugby test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Ireland at Yarrow Stadium on June 12, 2010 in New Plymouth, New Zealand