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All Blacks v Ireland preview

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith
Sonny Bill Williams. On the bench but he will still be on camera - a lot.

The All Blacks have named a strong side for the weekends Rugby international against Ireland at Aviva Stadium.

They are going to need it as well. Never in recent seasons have I heard such confidence from All Blacks supporters. It is starting to rival the airs of superiority that swirled around the All Blacks before their 2007 Rugby World Cup Quarter Final loss to France.

Ireland are one side where the form book doesn’t matter. On their day they can beat anyone. Australia nearly found that out in the 1991 World Cup Quarter final when Ireland lead with a couple of minutes to go.

The Irish are writing their side off at every opportunity and apart from the usual polite ‘respect for Ireland’ comments the All Blacks and their supporters aren’t far behind them. A lacklustre showing against Samoa last week added fuel to the chorus singing about Irelands guaranteed demise.

Ireland are a very good side who are perfectly capable of doing what their predecessors have never done and beat the All Blacks. For that to happen three things would have needed to come to pass.

1. The All Blacks need to be over confident. They are at their weakest being the front runners. Painful memories still linger of the ‘invincible’ 1995 All Blacks who were going to deal to South Africa in the World Cup Final.

2. The All Blacks to pick a rotational squad that is more about giving people a go than winning at all costs.

3. Ireland need to come out fizzing but with their brains switched on. The passion needs to last a lot longer than the first ten minutes.

Thankfully for All Blacks supporters only two of the the three factors are still in play with Graham Henry and Co. picking pretty much the best they had available.

Alby Mathewson starting instead of Andrew Ellis, and Sam Whitelock in for Tom Donnelly would have been preferable but on the whole it is a good team, which is more than capable of dealing to Ireland provided they don’t read how good they are in the newspapers.

Cory Jane makes a welcome return from injury on the right wing in place of Isaia Toeava.

It would have been good to have Jimmy Cowan on the bench as extra insurance at halfback but for some reason Graham likes him wearing a tie on match day.

Jerome Kaino is back in on the blindside replacing Liam Messam, who provides the loose forward cover on the bench.

Sonny Bill Williams gets the chance to come fresh off the bench and run at a tiring Ireland in the final 20 minutes.

Congratulations to Richie McCaw and Mils Muliaina for passing the great Sean Fitzpatrick’s All Blacks record of 92 test appearances (provided they don't get injured at training).

It would be good to see the All Blacks put some time into working hard in the forwards an establishing a platform before spinning the ball wide. Against England, Australia and to a lesser extent Scotland they were guilty of trying the flashy stuff early without sucking in the opposition forwards from the midfield defensive screen.

The All Blacks
Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Daniel Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Tom Donnelly, Anthony Boric, Owen Franks, Hika Elliot, Tony Woodcock. Reserves: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Sam Whitelock , Liam Messam, Alby Mathewson, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams.

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