NO EX­CUSES FOR THE ALL BLACKS AF­TER IR­ISH DE­FEAT

7 Days in Dubai - - SPORT -

New Zealand have in­sisted a hec­tic offfield sched­ule in Chicago had no im­pact on Satur­day’s 40-29 de­feat to Ire­land at Sol­dier Field. The All Blacks sur­ren­dered their record 18-match win­ning streak with their first loss to Ire­land, pay­ing the price for a lack­lus­tre open­ing. Ire­land raced into a 308 lead and though the back-to-back world cham­pi­ons fought back in the clos­ing stages, Joe Schmidt’s side were wor­thy win­ners.

New Zealand spent a large chunk of their week sat­is­fy­ing ma­jor spon­sor AIG’s re­quire­ments – but head coach Steve Hansen and full-back Ben Smith re­jected any no­tions that dented per­for­mance lev­els. “I think it’s the same for both teams, that al­ways hap­pens in the week that you have things to do with pro­mo­tional ac­tiv­i­ties and things,” said full­back Smith. “We thought we were re­ally fo­cused.”

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