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GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v New Zealand

GUINNESS Series Preview: Ireland v New Zealand

The GUINNESS Series comes to a close in Dublin with both Ireland and New Zealand chasing an historic win – Joe Schmidt’s men will bid to become the first Irish team to beat New Zealand, while the All Blacks are chasing a record 14th straight victory in the calendar year.

2013 GUINNESS SERIES: Sunday, November 24

IRELAND v NEW ZEALAND, Aviva Stadium, 2pm (live RTÉ Two/BBC Two/IRFU Live Blog)

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Team News: The Ireland team to play New Zealand in the final game of the GUINNESS Series at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday has been named.

Brian O’Driscoll, Jonathan Sexton and Rob Kearney have been included in the Ireland starting line-up to face the All Blacks, having trained with the squad on Friday.

Head coach Joe Schmidt confirmed: “All three took full part in training today, Rob trained well on Wednesday, they have had the luxury of the conditioning we have done through the last three weeks, so it was just a case of getting them on the training pitch together and confirming they were fit to play.

“I think Paddy (Jackson) did really well against Samoa so we would have had confidence in Paddy, we have confidence in Johnny obviously because of the leadership and experience he has and that tips the balance in a week that wasn’t perfect for preparation at all.

“If we get an injury to someone like Gordon D’Arcy or get one elsewhere, having Ian (Madigan) on the bench just gives more flexibility where with Paddy, he plays 10 and doesn’t play other positions.”

The selected pack remains unchanged from last weekend’s clash with Australia and will feature Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien and Peter O’Mahony in the back row.

Team captain Paul O’Connell will be partnered by Devin Toner in the second row and Cian Healy, hooker Rory Best and Mike Ross pack down in the front row.

Conor Murray comes in for Eoin Reddan at scrum half and Dave Kearney, a two-try debutant against Samoa, earns his second cap on the wing in place of the injured Fergus McFadden.

D’Arcy wins his 75th cap for Ireland and will partner O’Driscoll in the Irish midfield for a record 52nd time. It will be O’Driscoll’s 128th appearance which sees him draw level with Ireland’s most-capped player, retired out-half Ronan O’Gara.

Schmidt added: “I do believe that in any two-horse race there are no certainties and I think winning will take an exceptional performance.

“The All Blacks have proven that as well as being a class side, when they have come under pressure they have overcome it, it was highly evident especially in the Rugby Championship against South Africa.

“You’re down to 14 men and down by six points…so to score two converted tries and win by eight points, that’s exceptional and it’s a clear sign of the self belief they have and we have to have that because you can’t win otherwise.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has finalised the team for their final match of their European tour against Ireland.

The strong All Blacks side, which boasts 798 Test caps and an average age of 26, features two injury-enforced changes from the team that beat England last weekend.

Aaron Cruden replaces Dan Carter at out-half and Wyatt Crockett comes in for Tony Woodcock at loosehead prop. Beauden Barrett and Ben Franks have been promoted to the replacements bench.

Winger Cory Jane also returns to the starting line-up, replacing Charles Piutau, while Luke Romano starts in the second row with Brodie Retallick on the bench.

Steven Luatua will line out at blindside flanker with Sam Cane coming onto the bench to cover the loose forwards, and Andrew Hore takes Keven Mealamu’s place at hooker.

The selected matchday squad also features the inclusion of uncapped half-back TJ Perenara among the reserves.

Hansen said: “This Test against the Irish is another great opportunity for the team to put in a performance we can all be proud of.

“Though we have won the last two Tests on the tour (against France and England), we would like to see an improvement on those two performances.

“We love playing in Ireland and have a lot of respect for the Irish. We well remember the second Test against them in Christchurch last year (when the All Blacks just won 22-19) and we know that if our minds aren’t totally on the job in our preparation this week and in the game on Sunday, then we will suffer.”

IRELAND: Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster), Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Dave Kearney (Lansdowne/Leinster); Jonathan Sexton (Racing Metro 92), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster); Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Devin Toner (Lansdowne/Leinster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster) (capt), Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Sean O’Brien (UCD/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Dublin University/Leinster).

Replacements: Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Jack McGrath (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Declan Fitzpatrick (Dungannon/Ulster), Mike McCarthy (Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Isaac Boss (Terenure College/Leinster), Ian Madigan (Blackrock College/Leinster), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster).

NEW ZEALAND: Israel Dagg (Hawke’s Bay/Crusaders); Cory Jane (Wellington/Hurricanes), Ben Smith (Otago/Highlanders), Ma’a Nonu (Wellington/Highlanders), Julian Savea (Wellington/Hurricanes); Aaron Cruden (Manawatu/Chiefs), Aaron Smith (Manawatu/Highlanders); Wyatt Crockett (Canterbury/Crusaders), Andrew Hore (Taranaki/Highlanders), Charlie Faumuina (Auckland/Blues), Luke Romano (Canterbury/Crusaders), Sam Whitelock (Canterbury/Crusaders), Steven Luatua (Auckland/Blues), Richie McCaw (Canterbury/Crusaders) (capt), Kieran Read (Canterbury/Crusaders).

Replacements: Dane Coles (Wellington/Hurricanes), Ben Franks (Hawke’s Bay/Hurricanes), Owen Franks (Canterbury/Crusaders), Brodie Retallick (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs), Sam Cane (Bay of Plenty/Chiefs), TJ Perenara (Wellington/Hurricanes), Beauden Barrett (Taranaki/Hurricanes), Ryan Crotty (Canterbury/Crusaders).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (France), Greg Garner (England)
Television Match Official: Graham Hughes (England)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 10/1; Draw: 50/1; New Zealand to win: 1/20

Pre-Match Quotes: Les Kiss (Ireland) – “New Zealand can move the ball quicker than anyone, they back their skill sets. I don’t want to build them up any more, but they do deserve all the press they have had.

“They can have the blowtorch of pressure right on their belly and they still find ways out of those situations. This is the mightiest challenge in rugby but it doesn’t scare us off.

“I always feel under pressure, don’t worry about that, and it gets bigger when you play teams like the All Blacks. It was clearly a frustration last week against Australia, it definitely didn’t go according to plan.

“We always talk about the need for intensity and aggression in defence, and this week has been no different. We didn’t bring that last week, but we’ve spent time on that now, certainly.

“We’re seeing the green shoots of progress internally, we have to trust that. Hopefully we see some gains. We have a camp at Christmas and then the Six Nations will be upon us before we know it.

“But we can’t focus on any of that this weekend: the challenge that’s in front of us is pretty evident. If we do enough things right in this game we believe we can win it.

“We have to be accurate and physical, and if we get the little technical things right, and build those up, then we will have a chance.”

Richie McCaw (New Zealand) – “It feels like I’m only just getting started to be fair. So it’s bit of a weird one really, for this time for me. But I’m just stoked to get a few games in a row, and another chance on Sunday.

“There’s no doubt it’s been a positive, to get to the end of this tour, and to feel like you’re only just getting going. I would have liked to have a few extra games this year, but the way it is is the way it is.

“But it’s certainly made it all a little bit easier. It’s always a great atmosphere in Dublin, and when we played here two or three years ago it was brilliant.

“It’s never been easy, it’s always a hell of a battle, when the crowd get behind them (Ireland) in a good atmosphere, it’s always a tough place to play and that’s what we’re expecting.

“That (chasing a 14th straight win of 2013) does add a little extra to this game, as I said it doesn’t actually change how you prepare. We’ve had a good week and the guys are excited to get out there, keen to get out on the track.

“I think you do talk about the chance to make history – in the context of that being a by-product of getting the job done on Sunday, and getting the week right.

“We said at the start of the week there would be a lot of talk about it being the end of the season and all those things that come with it, but we just have to go about our business.

“I think we’ve done that as well as we can, so now it’s just a matter of putting a performance out there. It would be pretty nice to be sat there after 80 minutes with grins on our faces.”

Pre-Match Links –

#BehindTheGreen: Quinny Inside The Ireland Camp

O’Connell Focused On Producing ‘That Big Performance’

Plumtree: There’s Been An Extra Edge To Training

Head-To-Head: Ireland v New Zealand

Irish Rugby TV: Team Announcement Press Conference

Irish Rugby TV: Isaac Boss

Irish Rugby TV: Gordon D’Arcy

Worldwide Coverage Of Ireland’s Clash With New Zealand

Recent Meetings –

2012: Summer Tour First Test: New Zealand 42 Ireland 10, Eden Park, Auckland
2012: Summer Tour Second Test: New Zealand 22 Ireland 19, AMI Stadium, Christchurch
2012: Summer Tour Third Test: New Zealand 60 Ireland 0, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Support Ireland on www.irishrugby.ie/facebook or search #IRLvNZL on www.twitter.com/irfurugby.