‘Their physicality is second to none’ - Papalii

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Named to start, Papalii said it was good to learn what it was like playing the northern sides.

Reviewing Ireland's play ahead of the Test showed how physical they are, and it would be a case of matching fire with fire.

"After the Welsh game I felt like I'd been hit by a bus. I've got to give them credit, and they are fit teams as well. So we've always got to try to have that edge against them, but their physicality is second to none," he said.

"It's the way the game should be played and I love it."

Papalii said while there was stiff competition for the starting role, there was great support from the other open side flankers Sam Cane and Ardie Savea.

"It makes the job so much easier when everyone is open," he said.

"We're tighter, and still growing with each other and we just want the best for each other."

While Cane was still working his way back into the side after injury, his aura was around the side. Papalii said having him close and being able to pick his brain was something he appreciated because of the experience both as a player and a leader.

It was similar having Savea alongside. Papalii said he couldn't explain what it meant to play alongside Savea. But his qualities were the same on and off the field.

"It's just awesome to be playing with a man like that. Our job roles don't change, he just does everything, and does everything well and to the best of his ability, so it makes my job easier and I think it makes Ethan Blackadder's job easier as well, by the way he plays the game. He plays the game the way it should be, and that's someone I am always inspired to try and play like," he said.

He was a newer player on the 2018 tour when the All Blacks lost to Ireland. He remembered the feelings in the dressing room, and that would be some motivation for those involved.

"I think they've learned the lessons from that game in 2018 and this week they've got around each other to trust in the process and go week-in, week-out, so nothing changes," he said.

The Irish were a team the All Blacks respected and always had done, and, like the New Zealanders, they were a team that did the basics well, and it was once they had achieved that, that they revealed their attacking hand.


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