One of the most anticipated games this year will take place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin this Saturday as the 2nd ranked Ireland take on the number 1 ranked and current World champions, New Zealand.
Ireland and New Zealand last clashed heads in 2016 where Ireland famously beat the All Blacks 40-29 in Chicago before losing at home in Dublin two weeks later 9-21.
The closest Ireland came to a home victory over the All Blacks was back in 1973 when they were able to hold the AB’s to a 10-all draw at the famous Lansdowne road and they will be looking for their first home victory against the AB’s.
Just like last weekend against Argentina, Ireland will be looking at IRB Player of the Year Nominee, Jonathan Sexton, to keep up his good form and guide his team through the game as he has done the whole season with great success.
He will have a tough battle on his hands against back-to-back IRB Player of the Year, Beauden Barrett, who always seems to lift his game to a new level as soon as he wears the black jersey.
The AB’s will also be looking at a match winning performance from Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock who will be playing their 50th test as a locking pair.
The All Blacks only made one forced change to the starting line up with Ryan Crotty replacing Sonny Bill Williams who is out with an AC joint injury.
Ireland has made four changes with Rob Kearney back for his first game since the June internationals. Garry Ringrose is in for Robbie Henshaw and two changes up front with Devin Toner in for Iain Henderson and Dan Leavy replacing the injured Sean O’Brien.
Prediction: Ireland will have to keep the All Blacks under pressure for 80min to give themselves a chance. It will be a close game with the AB’s taking it in the last 10-15min. AB’s to win it by 8-10points
Ireland: 15. Rob Kearney, 14. Keith Earls, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Bundee Aki, 11. Jacob Stockdale,
10. Jonathan Sexton, 9. Kieran Marmion, 8. CJ Stander, 7. Dan Leavy, 6. Peter O’Mahony,
5. James Ryan, 4. Devin Toner, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 2. Rory Best(C), 1. Cian Healy
Replacements: 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: 1. Karl Tu’inukuafe, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Owen Franks, 4. Sam Whitelock, 5. Brodie Retallick, 6. Liam Squire, 7. Ardie Savea, 8. Kieran Read(C), 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Beauden Barrett, 11. Rieko Ioane, 12. Ryan Crotty, 13. Jack Goodhue, 14. Ben Smith, 15. Damian McKenzie
Replacements: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Ofa Tuungafasi, 18. Nepo Laulala, 19. Scott Barrett, 20. Matt Todd, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Richie Mo’unga, 23. Anton Lienert-Brown