Ire­land can in­flict pain on All Blacks

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: New Zealand were pun­ished for show­ing “a lack of re­spect” to Ire­land when they lost in Chicago and could be in for an­other shock in Satur­day’s re­match at Dublin’s Aviva Sta­dium, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Lions wing Luke Fitzger­ald.

Joe Sch­midt’s side de­liv­ered one of rugby’s big­gest shocks of the year by win­ning 40-29 11 days ago to end the All Blacks’ 18-game win­ning run and be­come the first team since South Africa in 2004 to score 40 points against them.

Fitzger­ald, who re­tired from rugby ear­lier this year with 34 caps for Ire­land and one for the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Lions, said Steve Hansen’s world cham­pi­ons would be a tougher propo­si­tion on Satur­day as Ire­land bid to be­come the first side to post back-to-back vic­to­ries against them since South Africa in 2009.

“Do I think we can beat New Zealand again? I ab­so­lutely do,” said Fitzger­ald. “It’s a re­ally uphill task, they’ll be re­ally hurt­ing after that (de­feat in Chicago).

“I think they showed a lit­tle bit of ar­ro­gance there and lack of re­spect with some of their se­lec­tions.

“I think they’ll be re­ally, re­ally pumped up for this one. I’d say they’ll do a lit­tle bit more re­search be­hind the scenes on us. I’d say they were a lit­tle bit un­der-cooked in that depart­ment and, from my own per­spec­tive, some of the se­lec­tion mis­takes that they made they won’t make them again.”

New Zealand bounced back from the loss by mak­ing 12 changes to score 10 tries in a 68-10 win over Italy last Satur­day, when Ire­land also played free-flow­ing rugby to beat Canada 52-21.

The All Blacks are hop­ing influential sec­ond row Sam White­lock is fit to re­turn after in­jury, al­low­ing them to move Jerome Kaino back to flanker. Ire­land ruth­lessly ex­ploited that scrum weak­ness in Chicago and Fitzger­ald ex­pects a sim­i­lar gameplan on Satur­day.

“The things we did well, we can def­i­nitely do again,” he said. “I think the pres­sure we got on all around the park, the de­sire we showed... I think in front of a packed Aviva Sta­dium we can def­i­nitely do that again.”

Ire­land’s stand­out player in Chicago, scrum half Con­nor Mur­ray, has re­cov­ered from a mus­cle in­jury and is fit to play.

Joe Sch­midt

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