NO EXCUSES FOR THE ALL BLACKS AFTER IRISH DEFEAT
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.”