Autumn Internationals Preview: Ireland v New Zealand

Ireland RugbyDate: Saturday 20th November
Kick Off: 17:30
Venue: Lansdowne Road

Declan Kidney’s team selection for the All-Blacks game on Saturday has faced some fierce criticism since it was announced yesterday. The controversial selection of Eoin Reddan, Mick O’Driscoll and John Hayes on the bench raised some eyebrows due to their recent poor form.

Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tom Court make up the Irish front row that will surely be tested, John Hayes manages to keep a spot on the bench surprisingly after his poor performance in the Samoa game and although many have been calling for Mike Ross to get a chance to prove himself at this level, it is obvious that he is not featuring in Kidneys current plans.

Ireland’s game plan has depended heavily on the set piece, and they need parity in the scrum and lineout to secure territory. Mick O’Driscoll struggled in the South African game against one of the most experienced and best lineouts in world rugby. The All-Blacks do not have same experience at hooker or 2nd row that South Africa have and they should be much more competitive.

Devin Toner secured 100% of lineout ball against Samoa last week and he rightly can feel hard-done-by for not getting a starting place this weekend.

There was some better news for the Irish lineout with the withdrawal of Kiwi lock Brad Thorn who has been ruled out of playing on Saturday after failing to recover from a hamstring strain. He has been replaced in the starting XV by Anthony Boric with Samuel Whitelock coming onto the replacements bench.

David Wallace will have his hands full contending with Richie McCaw, and there are no surprises in the selection of his backrow partners Ferris and Heaslip. Jamie Heaslip will have a huge point to prove against the All-Blacks after his early exit in the Summer game in New Plymouth. He will need no motivation for a big performance: he owes it to his team-mates.

The selection of Reddan at scrum half has Irish rugby fans scratching their heads. He had a truly awful game against South Africa. New Zealand are lethal on the deck and at ruck time, there will be no time for Reddan’s slow ponderous passes. I promise you something, he will be turned-over repeatedly by the Kiwi backrow.

We can only hope that Kidney will make the changes early on if this happens and not to leave it with 20 minutes to go. In my mind Declan Kidney missed a real opportunity in the Samoan game not to start Peter Stringer with Jonny Sexton, as this would be my starting half-backs going into the 6 Nations and World Cup next year.

Ronan O’Gara can feel a little aggrieved not to be starting, but I think that Kidney has made the right choice at out-half. Sexton is the future, and he is going to be the first choice 10 going into next year. Having a player of O’Gara’s vast experience on the bench is like having a massive insurance policy, if it’s not working out for Sexton on the day, Ireland know that O’Gara can come off the bench cold and close a game out.

The centre partnership of D’Arcy and O’Driscoll are going to have to vastly improve on their recent performances. Their defensive abilities will be truly tested when facing the onslaught of Conrad Smith an Ma’a Nonu. And with Sonny Bill Williams waiting for his chance to spring from the bench, there will be no respite for the full game. The ever dependable Tommy Bowe and Luke Fitzgerald will provide support out wide, whilst Rob Kearney returns from injury to take his fullback jersey from Fitzgerald who filled in admirably for him last week.

The Irish pack will have to turn in a huge performance to compete with the Kiwi’s. The lineout will be more competitive, and in the backrow we may have a very slight edge. But Reddan is the real weak link in this team,

Realistically, The weather is the only thing that will save Ireland now. The current weather forecast for Saturday is showers, the forecast for Ireland’s chances against the All-Blacks is equally gloomy.

Prediction: New Zealand by 15+

Ireland team (v New Zealand): C Healy, R Best, T Court, D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, S Ferris, D Wallace, J Heaslip, R Kearney, T Bowe, B O’Driscoll (C), G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald, J Sexton, E Reddan. Replacements : S Cronin, J Hayes, D Toner, D Leamy, P Stringer, R O’Gara, K Earls.

New Zealand team (v Ireland): M Muliaina, C Jane, C Smith, M Nonu, H Gear, D Carter, A Ellis; K Read, R McCaw (C), J Kaino, T Donnelly, A Boric, O Franks, H Elliot, T Woodcock. Replacements : A Hore, J Afoa, S Whitelock, L Messam, A Mathewson, S Donald, S Bill Williams

By Conor Buckley

6 thoughts on “Autumn Internationals Preview: Ireland v New Zealand

  1. Hey Conor, its all so true unfortunately,
    I just don’t understand the thinking on Reddan. I trust Kidney and his coaching team but just can not fathom the thinking here. Surely Stringer deserves the start and should be teamed with Sexton? The all Black combination does not play together so i don’t get why the thinking has to be that scrum and out half are a joint combination.
    Reddan can not really be an option for world cup? Do you not consider Tomás O’Leary as a starter option for the world Cup?
    Someone said during the week that “Hayes has toured more than the Rolling Stones”, He has been great but he too looks like he is struggling now and it must be time to give Ross his chance we can’t count on Hayes for 60 mins anymore, not fair to him not fair to us. No point in arriving at the world Cup with a knackered hayes and not enough prop experience before big games.

    On a positive. I hope Earls get a shot and breaks into the open, he has not had huge game time but is a real winner and could score a late one… lets hope its not one to late and actually one that counts!

    NZ by 10 points me thinks and dreams for better.

  2. Yes, Tomas O’Leary is number 1 going into 6N and RWC, has been a little unlucky with injury but should be back soon (broken thumb)
    Earls had a storming game on Tuesday night against Australia, some great breaks.
    I can’t remember who described playing John Hayes in the front row at 37 as “borderline abuse” – but I agree with it!

  3. 22

    Agree re backs. Mind you I think any combination of 9 or 10
    Will struggle behind that pack

    Mick o Driscoll is a journey man I’d say. If he’s good enough how can
    they still overlook bob casey ( I’m not a fan of his but Irish have best
    in the premiership)

    O Callaghan got the calls wrong v SA.

    Prediction: forwards to be blown away and backs living off scraps all day

  4. When all is said and done that was a great match full of thrills and spills, a great advert for the game of rugby football. Somebody has to lose and as ever (‘ v ‘ NZ) it was us. But both sides can take pride in giving the paying public value for money, ultimately that’s what the job of professional sportsmen is.
    I personally, though an out and out Irish (and Leinster ) supporter felt quite satisfied come full time, having watched 80 mins of an engrossing contest.
    A number of points, I felt as did many others that it was a poor second row, Mick O’Driscoll is an honest grafter but he is not up to the level of a top flight international team, and I don’t rate O’Callaghan very highly either. We were poor in the lineouts (the hookers aren’t always to blame you know), and the almost unprecedented site of losing the first 3 kick-off receptions. The latter were clean losses no fumbles or knock-ons, clean losses. Oh PoC where are you.

    Though all the stats seemed to be in the all Blacks favour (principally any time in our 22 they came away with points, bar once) this was with a little rub of the green a game we might have stolen. The last NZ try was scored I feel because we where chasing the game at that point, so discount that. Earl’s try may well have been allowed. We also in the latter stages, spurned at least two kickable shots at goal (Sexton had a good game overall didn’t he), so lets see how that adds up.
    Final score NZ 38 Ireland 18
    less last try -5 6 spurned penalties
    5 Earls’s try
    2 conversion (touch wood, but makeable from the right hand side
    35 31

    Would have made it interesting in the final few minutes, wouldn’t it. Like I said we could have used a rub of the green.

    Based on what I’ve seen recently in Internationals, Magners and Heineken here’s my team for the 6 nations and RWC. I’ve left Tom Court on the bench (unfairly) due to his ability to cover both sides, and Keith Earles is there for his skill and ability to cover positions from 11 to 15.

  5. Saturday restored alot of faith in the Irish setup, Ireland hold no fear in facing NZ, we have proved in the last 2 meetings that they are beatable, (even though they tonked us both times). I really wonder if they will implode at home under the domestic pressure next September?
    Fact of the matter is for any NH team to beat NZ, you need a PERFECT 80mins, and hope that NZ make mistakes.

  6. Hey Gerry, I was not lucky enough to be at the game but it was great to watch it on TV. We really gave it a go and it was great to hear the crowd get into it as well. earls unlucky for sure, it is such a fine line at that level.
    i think this will bring a big change in the belief within the team and from outside.
    the big lessons for me were the restarts and forwards Kicking the ball here and there. Our defense was strong and with a few fit bodies back POC things can change for the better.
    Sexton did well and really put his body on the line. What about the Heaslip Dash! felt bad for Best he looked like he got hammered there.

    The level of injury now shows the depth of squad we need.
    But most of all we have nothing to fear.

    well Done Ireland!

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