Planet Rugby

Preview: Ireland v New Zealand

22nd November 2013 14:40

Share:

Richie McCaw New Zealand and Ireland 2012

All Blacks: Perfect year?

New Zealand will be looking to become the first Test team in the professional era to enjoy a perfect calendar year when they take on Ireland in Dublin.

Few would bet against the All Blacks making it 14 from 14 in 2013 on Sunday after what has been an outstanding period for the World Cup holders.

On that point, world champions seldom continue in such a rich vein of form and it can be said they have in fact strengthened since that 2011 triumph.

Credit must go to Steve Hansen and his selectors for that as some are even talking about this possibly being the greatest New Zealand team, which is difficult to question seeing as four of their squad lead the list for most capped All Blacks. That in itself is something very special indeed.

So how have they got to within 80 minutes of this feat? Of course there is quality aplenty on the Test field and also in Super Rugby and the ITM Cup. However, what was apparent when Richie McCaw presented Dan Carter with his 100th cap after defeating England last week was an unrivalled squad unity. There spoke a leader full of respect for a man who - like himself - could have moved away from New Zealand for financially greener pastures...permanently I mean.

Carter, with admirable values, paid tribute to his father while the squad stood behind him. It was a shame that Twickenham had emptied at that point - whether fans were made aware of the proceedings or not is unclear - as there stood a group without even a hint of an ego.

England head coach Stuart Lancaster put it simply before last weekend's meeting: "New Zealand have become probably the most successful team in world sport." Not rugby, sport.

Kieran Read meanwhile stressed that the All Blacks have not played well in November and we'd also go along with that assessment - their peak performance of course coming in South Africa earlier this year. And the number eight is keen to finish in style in Dublin.

Ireland can be taken at 12/1 to win while the handicap start is +20 for the hosts. Those numbers were settled on after their dismal showing against Australia as slack defence was punished, something that will happen again if they don't shore up their wide channels.

They may draw upon 2012's second Test in Christchurch for confidence when they pushed the All Blacks all the way in an eventual 22-19 defeat, but we all know how New Zealand responded the following Saturday as they romped to a 60-0 victory at Waikato Stadium. Something like that sort of clinical performance would surely delight the in-form Read.

Joe Schmidt will, of course, be given time to instil his own ethos and playing style on this team and patience will be needed moving forward as they look to improve on a poor 2013.

A win on Sunday we're afraid is highly unlikely judging from last week as Brian O'Driscoll seems set to go through his international career without that scalp. One small consolation for the outside centre will be that he will equal Ronan O'Gara's Irish record of 128 caps.

An achievement of note but no one in world rugby will top New Zealand's should they complete what would be a remarkable clean sweep they fully deserve this weekend.

Ones to watch:

For Ireland: Slightly harsh to drop Luke Marshall? Maybe as he is probably the long-term future at inside centre for Ireland. Joe Schmidt believes Gordon D'Arcy is the answer for this game at least though and it will be a big ask for the veteran to halt the in-form Ma'a Nonu.

For New Zealand: A change to the back-row sees Liam Messam given a well-earned rest as youngster Steven Luatua starts. The latter's efforts this year for both the Blues and the All Blacks have been impressive and Sunday will be another chance to show he is the future at number six. Picked on tour ahead of Brad Shields, Luatua is a real workhorse who carries well and should be a handful for Ireland. It will also be interesting to see the impact young Beauden Barrett makes coming off the bench. He has been short on opportunities this November series after what was an outstanding Rugby Championship showing.

Head-to-head: 'Just mark Kieran Read' was the message from the Wallabies to Jamie Heaslip when they talked at the after-match function last weekend. It's a clear message of just how highly his peers rate Read and why wouldn't they? Number eight Read has crossed for a remarkable six tries in his last six Tests - setting up a few in the process - and is quite rightly being spoken of as the favourite to claim the IRB Player of the Year award.

Previous results:

2012: New Zealand won 60-0 in Waikato
2012: New Zealand won 22-19 in Christchurch
2012: New Zealand won 42-10 in Auckland
2010: New Zealand won 38-18 at Aviva Stadium
2010: New Zealand won 66-28 in New Plymouth
2008: New Zealand won 3-22 at Croke Park
2008: New Zealand won 21-11 in Wellington
2006: New Zealand won 27-17 in Auckland
2006: New Zealand won 24-23 in Hamilton
2005: New Zealand won 7-45 at Lansdowne Road
2002: New Zealand won 40-8 in Auckland
2002: New Zealand won 15-6 in Dunedin
2001: New Zealand won 29-40 at Lansdowne Road

Prediction: Ireland desperately need to avoid those lapses in defence that led to Australia profiting last weekend. If they can do that then it shouldn't be anything like the embarrassing 60-0 defeat they suffered in Hamilton in 2012. Let's go for New Zealand by 15 points!

The teams:

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 David Kearney, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (capt), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Kevin McLaughlin, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Luke Fitzgerald.

New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Ben Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (capt), 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Owen Franks, 19 Brodie Retallick, 20 Sam Cane, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Ryan Crotty.

Date: Sunday, November 24
Kick-off: 14:00 GMT
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Greg Garner (England)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)
Assessor: Donal Courtney (European Rugby Cup)

By Adam Kyriacou
@PlanetRugbyAK

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs ExeterGloucester vs Exeter Preview
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London WelshSale vs London Welsh Preview
London Irish vs SaracensLondon Irish vs Saracens Preview
Harlequins vs WaspsHarlequins vs Wasps Preview
Bath vs LeicesterBath vs Leicester Preview
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs NorthamptonNewcastle vs Northampton Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs ZebreMunster vs Zebre Preview
Cardiff Blues vs UlsterCardiff Blues vs Ulster Preview
Connacht vs LeinsterConnacht vs Leinster Preview
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs GlasgowNewport Gwent D
Scarlets vs Benetton TrevisoScarlets vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs EdinburghOspreys vs Edinburgh Preview
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs ToulonBrive vs Toulon Preview
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse14:45
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Castres vs Oyonnax18:30
Clermont Auvergne vs LyonClermont Auvergne vs Lyon Preview
Montpellier vs Stade Francais20:45
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs SharksBlue Bulls vs Sharks Preview
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Saturday , September 20
Hawkes Bay vs Bay Of Plenty14:35
Auckland vs North HarbourAuckland vs North Harbour Preview
Manawatu vs Southland19:35
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions 29 - 15 Pumas
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Counties Manukau 20 - 28 CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Report
Thursday , September 18
Northland 20 - 31 TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Report
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26