Jamison Gibson-Park is too modest to admit it, but he must feel an enormous sense of personal satisfaction at having won a series against the All Blacks in his old stomping ground.
ibson-Park won a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes during his time in Wellington, but was always looked upon as an impact sub.
Even after he arrived in Leinster, he was forced to bide his time, playing second fiddle to Luke McGrath, but Andy Farrell saw something others didn’t.
Leaving Sky Stadium on Saturday night, the Ireland scrum-half must have felt like he proved his Kiwi doubters wrong.
“I never dreamed of a day like this to be honest,” Gibson-Park said. “I was rooming with Garry Ringrose and he said to me: ‘When was the last time you played here?’ I was like, ‘June 2016’, and he said to me: ‘Could you have ever dreamed of being back here in six years playing for Ireland?’
“I said no, obviously. It has been one heck of a journey and one to be proud of. My family were here too.”
It’s been an emotional few weeks for Ireland’s three Kiwis as Gibson-Park, James Lowe and Bundee Aki came full circle in terms of their international careers. For those three, Saturday’s historic achievement is momentous.
“The best by far,” Gibson-Park said when asked where it ranks for him.
“I mean I have had some special moments over my career and this was definitely the best. It was pretty surreal when the final whistle went. Obviously as part of a 2016 squad winning Super Rugby here – I didn’t play a massive part that year so I suppose that has a little bit to do with it as well – but it was a pretty amazing feeling.
“We are obviously unbelievably grateful for the support from the people back in Ireland and even for those in the crowd today and over the last couple of weeks. It has just been really amazing to see Irish people walking the streets around Auckland, Dunedin and Wellington, knowing they’re here to support us. I hope they are proud of us.”
Gibson-Park will enjoy a few weeks off back home with his family in New Zealand before he returns to Dublin for Leinster pre-season training. After an outstanding season, the scrum-half is looking forward to some down-time.
“We came down here with the intention to win. It is a testament to everyone involved, not just the players but the management that we did what we did. It is hard to put into words how awesome it is.
” It is just a hell of a buzz man, I am really stoked. I know a couple of lads in that (All Blacks) team; I know how they are feeling but in the same breath we work incredibly hard and we deserved the series win. It is a pretty unbelievable feeling, we have to enjoy these moments.”