The World champions All Blacks are aiming the first perfect season in professional rugby when they face Ireland in Dublin on Sunday to become the first international team in the professional era to enjoy a perfect calendar year. If New Zealand beat Ireland they will have 14 wins out of 14 this year, that is a very special stat. A very few would bet against New Zealand. Especially after thinking what an outstanding period maintained by the World Cup holders.
They have unbelievable strengths but supporters believe it is Kieran Read who pulls it all together. Ireland are the final obstacle between a New Zealand side whose best result against the New Zealanders a 10-10 draw in 1973. New Zealand, the world champions have lost just one match since they lifted the World Cup on home soil in 2011 – against England at Twickenham last year. They are now in such a rich vein of form and it is seen that they are in fact in strengthened form since that 2011 triumph. All credit goes to Steve Hansen and his selectors for creating the greatest New Zealand team. Although New Zealand has been several steps ahead of Ireland for a long time, they can be a speed bump on the All Blacks’ road to history. However, 81-year-old former Irish hooker Ronnie Dawson who captained the British and Irish Lions in six Tests and was also Ireland’s first-ever coach when he was appointed in 1969 without any hesitation admitted that there was much to be improved on if the Irish are to beat the All Blacks for the first time and prevent them to complete a perfect season – 14 wins in 14 matches in 2013. “There were areas where they should have been much better, especially the skill factor and their defense. I think for things to go better on Sunday, all the basics of the game have to be executed in a much better manner and if they manage that then they can at least equal the All Blacks there.” Dawson said at a ceremony where he was inducted, along with among others Scotland’s Gavin Hastings and former Wallaby scrumhalf George Gregan, into the IRB’s Hall of Fame in Dublin.
There are two major changes to the New Zealand back-line which started against England last week. These are – Aaron Cruden replaces the injured Dan Carter at fly-half and winger Cory James comes in for Charles Piutau. The New Zealand team coached by Wayne Shelford, won all seven of their Tests in 1989 and was the last group of All Blacks to achieve the feat when rugby was still an amateur sport. Dawson, who won 27 caps for Ireland, captaining them in 11 Tests before retiring from international rugby in 1965, mentioned that Schmidt will also change the mentality surrounding the Irish national side, expressly the excuse for some poor results as being down to a slow process in changing personnel. he said “Joe Schmidt is an excellent coach and rugby man and he will certainly know what is required. He is more than capable of setting things right in a week and steering the Irish on a good course. If he manages that well it will be up to the players then but miracles do happen.”
Can you watch the match – live stream, Start time, Rugby news, TV channels, live scores Today
One of the New Zealand tour matches on November 24, 2013 will happen at the Lansdowne Road. Here is where to watch Ireland vs New Zealand live online or on TV.
Date: Sunday, November 24
Kick-off: 14:00 (14.00 GMT; 03.00, Monday, November 25 NZ time)
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Expected weather: Partly cloudy but dry, slight breeze high of 9
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Greg Garner (England)
Television match official: Graham Hughes (England)
Assessor: Donal Courtney (European Rugby Cup)
Players to watch:
For New Zealand:
A few players have got a chance to make a statement and to actually impress Coach Steve Hansen. At this moment Skipper Richie McCaw and No.8 Kieran Read are in a class of their own. Moreover, in the backline Aaron Cruden and Cory Jane will want to make the most of their opportunity to start. A change to the back-row sees Liam Messam given a well-earned rest as youngster Steven Luatua starts. He has been short on opportunities this November series after what was an outstanding Rugby Championship showing. Wyatt Crockett will have to show that he can anchor the scrum without being penalized too often and in the second row Luke Romano will use his physicality to make an impression.
It is feeling slightly harsh to drop Luke Marshall. Ireland coach believes Gordon D’Arcy is the answer for this game at least though and it will be a big asks for the veteran to halt the in-form Ma’a Nonu. Skipper Jamie Heaslip will look to get his team over the advantage line. Veteran players like Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell really need to step up and produce a big performance if the home sides are to have any chance of competing.
Head to head:
Rob Kearney and Israel Dagg, both players are very safe under the high ball and will look to control territory from the back. Just mark Kieran Read’ was the message from the Wallabies to Jamie Heaslip when they talked at the after-match function last weekend. Number eight Read has crossed for a remarkable six tries in his last six Tests – setting up a few in the process. It is quite rightly being spoken of as the favorite to claim the IRB Player of the Year award. Ben Smith is still adjusting to outside center and he will be faced with the vast experience of Brian O’Driscoll which should be a fascinating clash.
2012: All Blacks won 60-0 in Waikato
2012: All Blacks won 22-19 in Christchurch
2012: All Blacks won 42-10 in Auckland
2010: All Blacks won 38-18 at Aviva Stadium
2010: All Blacks won 66-28 in New Plymouth
2008: All Blacks won 3-22 at Croke Park
2008: All Blacks won 21-11 in Wellington
2006: All Blacks won 27-17 in Auckland
2006: All Blacks won 24-23 in Hamilton
2005: All Blacks won 7-45 at Lansdowne Road
2002: All Blacks won 40-8 in Auckland
2002: All Blacks won 15-6 in Dunedin
2001: All Blacks won 29-40 at Lansdowne Road
Ireland desperately needs to avoid those lapses in defense that led to Australia profiting last weekend. Ireland is going to play with plenty of passion as they look to put things right. The All Blacks will be highly motivated by the goal of going unbeaten. Let’s watch out for New Zealand by 15 points!
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.