Jerry Flannery reflected on a near-perfect autumn by declaring Ireland had lived up to their reputation as Grand Slam champions.
The Irish completed their November internationals with a brutal 15-10 triumph over South Africa played against a macabre backdrop of heavy fog that added to the intensity of the spectacle.
Occasionally thrilling, mostly ugly but always compelling, a match billed as the 'battle of the hemispheres' produced a third successive victory over the World Cup holders.
For once the Tri-Nations winners had been sent packing by the masters of Europe, and Flannery was delighted by Ireland's refusal to dine out on past achievements.
“It would have tarnished the Grand Slam had we shown up this autumn and had a poor series,” said the all-action Munster hooker.
“We've come a long way and I take satisfaction from the way things haven't dropped off after the Grand Slam. I was worried that might happen but the players and management took steps to ensure it didn't.
“We wanted to test ourselves against South Africa to see how we are progressing as a team. This win is a big lift for us because we have massive respect for the Springboks - they're an awesome side.
“We're still no world beaters but we've progressed from the Six Nations. We're proud of what we've achieved.”