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'A One-Sided Rugby History' - What The New Zealand Media Are Saying Ahead Of Saturday

'A One-Sided Rugby History' - What The New Zealand Media Are Saying Ahead Of Saturday
By PJ Browne
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After breaking a 111-year run without victory against the All Blacks a fortnight ago, Ireland have an opportunity on Saturday to reaffirm their place at the top of world rugby. They could become the first time since South Africa in 2009 to beat the All Blacks twice in a calendar year.

Revenge is in the All Blacks nostrils, though. There's definitely a sense that they feel they did not do themselves justice in Chicago.

Writing for Stuff.co.nz, Hamish Bidwell took a look at the encounters between Ireland and New Zealand, concluding it to be a 'one-sided history' barely deserving to be termed a rivalry.

Good luck to the Irish.

If you huff and puff long enough, the odds are you'll blow your opponent's house down eventually.

So, 111 years and a goodly number of thrashings after their first encounter in 1905, Ireland finally did beat New Zealand in a rugby test. Congratulations to them, but that 40-29 victory in Chicago hardly means we have to start viewing this as one of the game's great and enduring rivalries.

Ben Strang and Llew Jones, also for Stuff.co.nz, took a look a the 'tactical tweaks' which Steve Hansen will make for Saturday's game. The lineout - where the All Blacks struggled in Chicago - is one of the key areas where they will look to improve. The return of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock to the second row will certainly aid that.


This is a big one for the All Blacks. They were dominated by Ireland in Chicago, particularly at lineout time.

With an unfamiliar lock pairing, Dane Coles struggled to hit his targets, often over throwing them. That isn't all down to Coles. He was forced to keep the ball away from Irish nuisance Devin Toner, who dwarfs the New Zealand locks.

New Zealand's lineout success was only 80 per cent as a result. They found success when they showed variation in their lineouts, removing men to make use of their speed.

Expect Kieran Read to call for several four or five-man lineouts, making the most of the fact they are faster than the Irish. With extra room to move, you'd expect the lineout to start humming again. Toner will have to work on the move, something a man of his size is unlikely to do too well.


The Whitelock/Retallick combo is an element on which much of the All Blacks' hopes of improvement are being laid.

Gregor Paul of the New Zealand Herald writes:


The lineout had been superb all season and then had a 40-minute malfunction without Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick. The return of those two will go a long way to restoring order at both the set piece and collisions.

With better lineout ball will come the opportunity to launch more effective attacks. If there is sharper handling then it will allow the All Blacks to play in front of the gainline and then compound the misery by attacking with momentum off second phase.

Win the nasty stuff in the forwards and it creates time and space for the key decision-makers Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett to wield their respective influence. It's not such a complicated business.

Gregor Paul also writes that tomorrow's game will show whether or not Steve Hansen has done what the World Cup winning coach believes his job to be: 'create an environment where they can use that motivation to the best of their ability to go out and perform'.

The performance on Sunday will be the ultimate proof as to how well Hansen managed to do that, but the players have indicated they have found the week to be equal parts sobering, inspiring and cathartic.

It's the catharsis that matters most. There's no value in chastening players if they can't emerge energised and confident and it's the way Hansen puts his players back together again that sets him apart as one of the world's best coaches.

The whole point of the review exercise was not to humiliate players and then hope that would serve as their motivation for the rematch. It was about forcing them to see the mistakes they made, evaluate why they made them and then build strategies on how they can avoid repeating those errors.

It's one year today since the tragic death of Jonah Lomu at the age of just 40. All Blacks out-half Beauden Barrett, along with several other players and head coach Steve Hansen, says Lomu has been in their thoughts this week.

He is huge in the All Blacks' history and we are aware of the anniversary. We don't need any more motivation, but we are thinking of him and the impact he had on the All Blacks jersey.

Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

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