Croke Park will be turned into a cauldron of excitement once more on Saturday as Ireland entertain the All Blacks on home soil for the first time since November 2005. The second match of the GUINNESS Series 2008 and of Declan Kidney’s coaching reign will see Ireland again chasing that elusive first win over New Zealand.
IRELAND v NEW ZEALAND, Croke Park, 5.15pm (live RTE Two/BBC 2 Northern Ireland)
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Team News: The Ireland team to play New Zealand in the second game of the GUINNESS Series 2008 has been named. Coach Declan Kidney has made six changes to the side which beat Canada 55-0 in the opening game.
Girvan Dempsey comes into the starting line-up at full-back and Tomas O’Leary is selected to start his first international at scrum half, having previously come on as a replacement against Argentina on the 2007 summer tour.
Both Keith Earls and Eoin Reddan revert to the replacements bench after starting last weekend.
The remaining four changes are all in the pack with Rory Best and John Hayes starting at hooker and prop respectively following their introduction as replacements last week.
The back row combination also sees changes with Alan Quinlan and David Wallace, who were both try-scoring replacements against Canada, starting on either side of the scrum.
The team will be captained by Brian O’Driscoll for the 50th time.
Meanwhile, team captain Richie McCaw is one of eleven changes coach Graham Henry has made to the New Zealand side to face Ireland at Croke Park.
Henry has retained just four players from the starting line-up for last weekend’s 32-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.
The New Zealand think-tank has selected a largely first choice team to take on Ireland.
Joe Rokocoko, who will be winning his 50th cap, Ali Williams, Keven Mealamu and Ma’a Nonu are the only survivors from the Scotland game, with second row Williams the only player to start the first three Tests of the All Blacks’ autumn programme.
Dan Carter is back in his familiar number 10 role, ready to lock horns with Ronan O’Gara. Carter kicked 11 points in New Zealand’s 21-11 win over Ireland in Wellington in June.
New father Mils Muliaina, winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, centre Conrad Smith and scrum half Jimmy Cowan have also been recalled in the backs.
In the pack, the experienced Rodney So’oialo, Jerome Kaino, Brad Thorn, Neemia Tialata and Tony Woodcock have all been reintroduced.
IRELAND: Girvan Dempsey (Terenure College/Leinster); Tommy Bowe (Ospreys), Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt), Luke Fitzgerald (Blackrock College/Leinster), Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster); Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Tomas O’Leary (Dolphin/Munster); Marcus Horan (Shannon/Munster), Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), John Hayes (Bruff/Munster), Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster), Alan Quinlan (Shannon/Munster), David Wallace (Garryowen/Munster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster).
Replacements: Jerry Flannery (Shannon/Munster), Tony Buckley (Shannon/Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), Shane Jennings (St. Mary’s College/Leinster), Eoin Reddan (London Wasps), Paddy Wallace (Ballymena/Ulster), Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster).
NEW ZEALAND: Mils Muliaina (Waikato/Chiefs); Joe Rokocoko (Auckland/Blues), Conrad Smith (Wellington/Hurricanes), Ma’a Nonu (Wellington/Hurricanes), Sitiveni Sivivatu (Waikato/Chiefs); Dan Carter (Canterbury/Crusaders), Jimmy Cowan (Southland/Highlanders); Tony Woodcock (North Harbour/Blues), Keven Mealamu (Auckland/Blues), Neemia Tialata (Wellington/Hurricanes), Brad Thorn (Tasman/Crusaders), Ali Williams (Tasman/Crusaders), Jerome Kaino (Auckland/Blues), Richie McCaw (Canterbury/Crusaders) (capt), Rodney So’oialo (Wellington/Hurricanes).
Replacements: Corey Flynn (Canterbury/Crusaders), John Afoa (Auckland/Blues), Anthony Boric (North Harbour/Blues), Kieran Read (Canterbury/Crusaders), Piri Weepu (Wellington/Hurricanes), Stephen Donald (Waikato/Chiefs), Isaia Toeava (Auckland/Blues).
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Jonathan Kaplan, Cobus Wessels (both South Africa)
Television Match Official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Match Odds (Paddy Power): Ireland to win: 4/1; Draw: 33/1; New Zealand to win: 2/9
Pre-Match Quotes: Declan Kidney (Ireland) – “New Zealand are the Tiger Woods of world rugby – they’re the level that every team compares themselves to. They’re an extremely good side.
“A number of players left their shores but they didn’t panic and brought a lot of guys in.
“Supposedly they picked their second team against Scotland but look what they did (they won 32-6). It just underlines the strength of their squad.
“Thankfully they’re only able to pick 22. They have huge experience. They’ve stated they want to complete a Grand Slam tour and they started extremely well against Scotland.
“The spirit in their squad is massive and this is probably the toughest time to play them because they’re going for the Grand Slam.
“We have to do something that hasn’t been done before and we’re under no illusions as to the size of the task. It’s as difficult as it gets but that’s what top level sport is all about.
“We didn’t perform as well as we’d like in the third quarter against Canada but had a great bench, and when they got into the match we finished strongly.
“The fact we held them scoreless meant it was a good day for us. We haven’t read too much into the result because Canada are a young, developing team. We had an advantage in that respect.
“We’d wish the game had been a little bit closer so I could have found out a few things, but I’d take a 55-0 against the All Blacks.”
Graham Henry (New Zealand) – “There is always edge before a rugby Test and there is probably more edge this time because of the significance of the game.
“Ireland are a very strong side and we’re playing at a venue which is very historic. I think it’s quite emotional and while you need to control those emotions, I did walk up into the terraces and I think that’s hugely significant.
“You need to think what it’s all about and I think it’s a privilege for the All Blacks to play there.
“We respect Ireland and recognise that they have a very good squad so we have selected our side accordingly.
“We haven’t played England or Wales yet but we think the Irish have some players who can make significant in-roads in this game.
“They toured well and played exceptionally well in Wellington, and in Sydney against the Australians and were unlucky not to win that night.
“Declan has coached Munster successfully for quite a while and I have seen Munster play. I believe they will play a similar style and that they’ll play up to the very best of their ability and hopefully we’re good enough to handle it.”
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Recent Form – Ireland – 2007/08: Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: Scotland 31 Ireland 21; Rugby World Cup Warm-Up: Ireland 23 Italy 20; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland 32 Namibia 17; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland 14 Georgia 10; Rugby World Cup Pool D: France 25 Ireland 3; Rugby World Cup Pool D: Ireland 15 Argentina 30; Six Nations: Ireland 16 Italy 11; Six Nations: France 26 Ireland 21; Six Nations: Ireland 34 Scotland 13; Six Nations: Ireland 12 Wales 16; Six Nations: England 33 Ireland 10; Summer Tour: New Zealand 21 Ireland 11; Summer Tour: Australia 18 Ireland 12; 2008/09: Autumn Test: Ireland 55 Canada 0
New Zealand – 2007/08: Rugby World Cup Pool C: New Zealand 76 Italy 14; Rugby World Cup Pool C: New Zealand 108 Portugal 13; Rugby World Cup Pool C: Scotland 0 New Zealand 40; Rugby World Cup Pool C: New Zealand 85 Romania 8; Rugby World Cup Quarter-Final: New Zealand 18 France 20; Summer Test: New Zealand 21 Ireland 11; Summer Test: New Zealand 37 England 20; Summer Test: New Zealand 44 England 12; 2008/09: Tri Nations: New Zealand 19 South Africa 8; Tri Nations: New Zealand 28 South Africa 30; Tri Nations: Australia 34 New Zealand 19; Tri Nations: New Zealand 39 Australia 10; Tri Nations: South Africa 0 New Zealand 19; Friendly: New Zealand 101 Samoa 14; Tri Nations: Australia 24 New Zealand 28; Autumn Tour: Australia 14 New Zealand 19; Autumn Tour: Scotland 6 New Zealand 32
Previous Meetings: 21
2008: New Zealand 21 Ireland 11, Westpac Stadium
2006: New Zealand 34 Ireland 23, Waikato Stadium; New Zealand 27 Ireland 17, Eden Park
2005: Ireland 7 New Zealand 45, Lansdowne Road
2002: New Zealand 15 Ireland 6, Carisbrook; New Zealand 40 Ireland 8, Eden Park
2001: Ireland 29 New Zealand 40, Lansdowne Road
1997: Ireland 15 New Zealand 63, Lansdowne Road
1995: Ireland 19 New Zealand 43, Ellis Park
1992: New Zealand 24 Ireland 21, Carisbrook; New Zealand 59 Ireland 6, Athletic Park
1989: Ireland 6 New Zealand 23, Lansdowne Road
1978: Ireland 6 New Zealand 10, Lansdowne Road
1976: New Zealand 11 Ireland 3, Athletic Park
1974: Ireland 6 New Zealand 15, Lansdowne Road
1973: Ireland 10 New Zealand 10, Lansdowne Road
1963: Ireland 5 New Zealand 6, Lansdowne Road
1954: Ireland 3 New Zealand 14, Lansdowne Road
1935: Ireland 9 New Zealand 17, Lansdowne Road
1924: Ireland 0 New Zealand 6, Lansdowne Road
1905: Ireland 0 New Zealand 15, Lansdowne Road
IrishRugby.ie Prediction: Ireland to win by less than 7 points