Iain Henderson says Ireland must target win over NZ after South Africa series loss

Iain Henderson in action against South Africa in Port Elizabeth
Iain Henderson played in all three Tests in South Africa

Ireland must target a first Test win over New Zealand in the two games in November after the narrow series defeat in South Africa, says Iain Henderson.

The Springboks edged out the Irish 19-13 in Port Elizabeth on Saturday to compete a 2-1 series win after losing the opener in Cape Town.

"No Irish team has ever beaten the All Blacks and I don't see any reason why we can't," said Henderson.

"We've got two opportunities to go and do it."

The Irish face the All Blacks in Chicago on 5 November before Steve Hansen's side play in Dublin two weeks later.

Henderson, who started all three Tests in South Africa, says the Irish will go into both games full of belief after earning a first away win over the Springboks.

"One thing we can take from this is that as a side, even being a young side, we've made history once on this tour and there's no reason why we can't do it again," he said.

Paddy Jackson shows his disappointment after Ireland's defeat
Ireland wasted chances to win both the second and third Tests in South Africa

Irish squander chance to win Springboks series

However, Henderson admitted the huge sense of disappointment in Joe Schmidt's Ireland squad at failure to take a glorious opportunity to earn an historic series win in South Africa.

Having won the opening game despite CJ Stander's red card, the Irish let a 16-point lead slip in the second Test and spurned a couple of try-scoring opportunities in the decider and finished the game hammering on the Springbok line.

"It's a massive shame," Henderson admitted.

"Nobody goes out there believing that we can't win, we went out there and gave it everything."

The Irish put it up to the South Africans despite being without injured big-name performers such as Johnny Sexton, Sean O'Brien, Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo.

As Schmidt handed out debuts to Tiernan O'Halloran, Quinn Roux, Sean Reidy and Matt Healy, the Irish used all 32 members of the squad during the series and Henderson believes the future of the team is bright.

"There are so many class players coming through. It's good to see a strong representation from Connacht, Matt Healy and Tiernan both doing really, really well. Kieran Marmion's sitting there too," added Henderson.