PREVIEW: All Blacks vs Ireland

Getty Images     16 Nov 2018     Getty Images

Match details: All Blacks vs Ireland, Saturday 17 November, 7pm Ireland Time (Sunday 18 November, 8am NZT), Aviva Stadium, Dublin

Played: 30
Won: All Blacks 28, Ireland 1
Drawn: 1
Last time: All Blacks 21, Ireland 9 (19 November 2016)
Referee: Wayne Barnes

The All Blacks have made just one change to the side that edged England 16-15 at Twickenham last week with Ryan Crotty starting at second five-eighth in place of the injured Sonny Bill Williams. Anton Lienert-Brown comes onto the bench for what will be his 32nd Test match. Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has made four changes to his side that beat Argentina 28-17 last weekend. In the backs, the experienced Rob Kearney replaces exciting youngster Jordan Larmour at fullback and Garry Ringrose comes in at centre for the injured Robbie Henshaw. In the pack, Iain Henderson makes way for Devin Toner in the second row, while the injured Sean O'Brien is replaced by Leinster teammate Dan Leavy at openside flanker.


It’s been a year of big Test matches for the All Blacks with the Bledisloe Cup on the line against Australia, two titanic Test matches against South Africa and the first Test against England in four years played at Twickenham. But none of those Test matches came with the billing of the world number one against the world number two. Ireland have become a genuine force in world rugby over recent years and if their victory over the All Blacks in Chicago in 2016 proved it, then their championship winning 6 Nations campaign and series victory over the Wallabies in Australia earlier this year certainly underlined the fact.
While Ireland’s ability to hold and recycle possession is renowned, the All Blacks can also expect an aerial onslaught from the men in green. Both first five-eighth Johnny Sexton and fullback Rob Kearney can put up booming high balls that will put pressure on the All Blacks back three. While such a threat would concern most sides, All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie has welcomed an aerial challenge from Ireland: "A lot of the time it is contested so getting up and taking that high ball is obviously the key for a start, then if we get an opportunity to counter we'll make the most of that as well," McKenzie said.


It will be a record-breaking night for three All Blacks in Dublin. Halfback Aaron Smith will play his 82nd Test match and overtake Justin Marshall as the most capped All Blacks halfback in history. In the engine room, Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock will set a new record for an All Blacks starting lock combination, starting in their 50th Test together. The previous locking record of 49 Tests was held by Robin Brooke and Ian Jones who dominated the All Blacks second row throughout the 1990s.
Johnny Sexton has scored more points against the All Blacks than any other Irish player with 49 points. Ronan O’Gara is second on the list with 38 points scored against the All Blacks.


1-Cian Healy, 2-Rory Best (c), 3-Tadhg Furlong, 4-Devin Toner, 5-James Ryan, 6-Peter O'Mahony,7-Dan Leavy, 8-CJ Stander, 9- Kieran Marmion, 10-Jonathan Sexton, 11-Jacob Stockdale, 12-Bundee Aki, 13-Garry Ringrose, 14-Keith Earls, 15-Rob Kearney
Reserves: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-Jack McGrath, 18-Andrew Porter, 19-Iain Henderson, 20-Josh van der Flier, 21-Luke McGrath, 22-Joey Carbery, 23-Jordan Larmour.

All Blacks (caps in brackets)
1. Karl Tu’inukuafe (11) 2. Codie Taylor (40) 3. Owen Franks (105) 4. Brodie Retallick (73) 5. Samuel Whitelock (107) 6. Liam Squire (22) 7. Ardie Savea (33) 8. Kieran Read – captain (116) 9. Aaron Smith (81) 10. Beauden Barrett (71) 11. Rieko Ioane (22) 12. Ryan Crotty (43) 13. Jack Goodhue (6) 14. Ben Smith (75) 15. Damian McKenzie (21)
Reserves: 16. Dane Coles (58) 17. Ofa Tuungafasi (24) 18. Nepo Laulala (15) 19. Scott Barrett (27) 20. Matt Todd (16) 21. TJ Perenara (53) 22. Richie Mo’unga (6) 23. Anton Lienert-Brown (31)