All Blacks side to play Ireland on Saturday named

The All Blacks team has been named to face world number two ranked Ireland at Aviva Stadium, Dublin, on Saturday 17 November (Kick-off: 7.00PM Ireland time)

The matchday 23 is as follows (with Test 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)

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)

The matchday 23 features just the one change from the team which beat England last weekend: Ryan Crotty comes in for the injured Sonny Bill Williams, with Anton Lienert-Brown coming into the run on reserves in the 23 jersey.

All Blacks Head Coach Steve Hansen said: “This will be another great challenge for our squad and one that we’re all really looking forward to. These are the types of Test matches that gets everyone up — it’s number one versus number two — and there’s a real excitement that’s building as we get closer to Saturday.

“The earlier part of our week has been about getting our processes and clarity right, focussing on our core roles and the execution of our skills and then going out and training well.

“On Saturday we’ll be playing an opponent who will want to keep the ball for long periods of time, and if they aren’t getting what they want, then they’ll kick and try to pressure us.

“For us, we’ll need to be strong at set piece, both on our ball and theirs, and be prepared to work hard with or without the ball. When the momentum comes our way, we’ll need to take the opportunities that will come, as the team that makes the most of their opportunities will win the game.”
Steve Hansen added: “As always, we’ve been given a warm welcome by the Irish public and we look forward to playing our part in what will be a wonderful game at one of the great rugby stadiums.”

Meanwhile, it will be a significant match for three All Blacks.

Aaron Smith will play his 82nd Test match and become the most capped All Blacks halfback in history, overtaking Justin Marshall, while Brodie Retallick and Samuel Whitelock will set a new record for an All Blacks starting lock partnership, starting in their 50th Test together.

“On behalf of the All Blacks, we want to congratulate Aaron, Brodie and Sam on their achievements,” Hansen said.

Key facts – All Blacks vs Ireland

• The All Blacks and Ireland have played each other 30 times, with 28 wins to the All Blacks, one to Ireland and one draw. The last match was in Dublin in November 2016, which the All Blacks won 21-9.
• All Blacks Captain Kieran Read celebrated 100 Test wins last weekend – he’s the fourth player in history to record 100 Test match wins, behind Richie McCaw (131), Keven Mealamu (114) and Tony Woodcock (102).

• Beauden Barrett has become the first player to score 100 international points this year. He is on 106 points, with South African Handre Pollard on 100 and England’s Owen Farrell on 91.

All Blacks assistant coach speaks about Success

On Tuesday in the leafy suburb of Newlands assistant coach Ian Foster rolled into the press conference bang on time at 12h30 and proceeded to hold court for 20 mins in an engaging conversation, even having to navigate the proverbial silly question that always rears its head be it a visiting rugby team or music star “Please have you got some words for all you Cape Fans “ – cringe.

This writer went the more cerebral route and took a leaf out of the management books and asked the question about Success and how ,success can be a bad teacher.

Ian’s answer was short and crisp yet rather telling in that you measure success with results ( the world looks at success as a win or loss ) and you could even break a game down into sections as well .”The previous week we had a successful 1st half against Argentina yet the 2nd half was not as crisp.

“How successfully did we play ? Can we get better? -Yes we can. and that is what drives us.” remarked Ian Foster

Their is no complacency in what we want to do -We want to put on an 80 min performance ”

Ominous warning indeed even after the 57 nil demolition of the Boks in Albany a few weeks back.

“It was a special game,but we did not perform the week after that .”

“What happens in the past is poor indicator for future performances.” This test on Saturday will be special ,in fact all test matches against the Boks are special test matches .

“The Boks bring out the best in us for sure .SA vs All Blacks you have to be 100% otherwise you feel it.”

After Ian spoke Dane Coles and Sam Whitelock discussed forward play and getting the body and time clock ready for the week.

Not too much on the field running around is key this week and today Wednesday is the day off for the team .The All Blacks name their team on Thursday morning.

Dan Carter calls Ma’a Nonu his “go-to” guy,

Dan Carter calls Ma’a Nonu his “go-to” guy, and the classy No 10 is happy to have the hard-running second five-eighths back for Saturday night’s pivotal test of the rugby year.

Carter (96 tests) offered an insight into the value of the enigmatic Nonu (81) in the All Black game plan when he spoke about the return of the dreadlocked No 12 today after training in west Auckland.

Nonu was given the Pumas test off to rest an ankle that’s been giving him a bit of gyp this season. He will return to face the Springboks at Eden Park in the clash of the Rugby Championship’s unbeaten sides.

And as much as Carter enjoyed what he termed a “great debut” by Auckland youngster Francis Saili at No 12 in the rain in Hamilton, he admitted feeling comforted Nonu would be back.

Nonu may be the man no-one wants at Super Rugby level, but he remains a prized asset in the All Blacks.

More so when, like Carter, you have to deal with a rushing Springbok defence intent on forcing you out of your comfort zone.

“Ma’a has been in good form for the All Blacks all year, and he’ll look to continue that,” Carter said.

“He’s excited to play as well. Having to sit back and watch last weekend would have been frustrating for him, and he’ll be in for a big game.”

Carter then expanded on what made Nonu such a key man to have back in the lineup.

“He’s just one of those reliable guys who can get you over the gain line whenever you need it,” he said.

“He is a bit of a go-to man for myself. His footwork and his strength are real attributes that encourage me just to give him the ball and let him get us going forward.

“His experience is important as well. He’s played in a lot of big matches in his career, and for an occasion like this he’s nice and relaxed and thinking clear as well, so he’s a good player to have outside.”

All Blacks training today also saw comeback wing Cory Jane return to action after spending most of the year recovering from a serious knee injury.

Jane has been in and out of the All Blacks camp this season as he’s continued his rehab but stepped things up notably today.

“It was awesome to see CJ back out there running and training,” Carter said. “He’s an awesome player, and to see him get on the other side of a tough injury it’s encouraging.”

Meanwhile, All Black lock Sam Whitelock had his game face on nice and early when he fronted the media today.

Never one to give much away at the best of times, the taciturn Canterbury lock was playing things pretty close to his chest ahead of what should be a mighty rumble up front at Eden Park.

“Any test match is special, but at the moment the Springboks are playing outstanding rugby, and we want to measure ourselves against that,” Whitelock said.

Beyond that he didn’t really want to buy into elevating this first clash of the year between the world’s top two sides.

His “next test” is always his biggest, he shrugged, and matching the opposition pack’s physicality was a constant at this level.

A large media group probed for insight from one of the All Blacks’ most consistent – and talented – forwards, but were getting none.

Asked if he felt their lineout would be targeted by the Boks, Whitelock said: “Any test every forward pack prides itself on their set piece, and they’ll want to make sure theirs is fine and apply as much pressure as they can on ours.

“That’s a week-in, week-out thing. This game is huge for us so we’ve got to make sure we can adapt on the run and deal with those pressures.”

Whitelock was also asked if there was any need to rally round young No 7 Sam Cane who steps into Richie McCaw’s boots this week for the biggest test of his life.

Again the poker face.

“The beauty about this team is everyone is here because they’re good enough to be here. Sam is no different. He’s excited just like the rest of us. We don’t need to protect anyone. If he gets that opportunity he’ll be out there giving it his best which will allow him to express himself.”

So, are Whitelock and his mates up front ready to stand up and match the expected physical brutality of the South African forwards?

“It’s just a normal test match. If you give anyone a chance you make it harder on yourselves, so we’ve got to start well and the set piece is huge.”

The consolation is this: Whitelock definitely plays a better game than he talks one.

– © Fairfax NZ News

Sharks to up their physicality tonight against the Crusaders

The word from the Sharks this week is that they are going to have to up their physicality tonight against the Crusaders and the retort from the New Zealanders is that they will give as good as they get.

Yesterday, Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder told The Mercury that the need to win the physical battle had likewise been highlighted in the Crusaders camp.

“It always is when we are in South Africa,” the genial former All Blacks captain said. “When you play teams like the Stormers and the Sharks you know what is in store for you and if you don’t pitch up for the physical battle you can come badly second.

“It is the nature of the way the South African teams play. They are confrontational and you have to match them.”

The Crusaders have been doing that for the last three weeks. After an indifferent opening start to the season they clicked into form to beat the Bulls 41-19, then the Southern Kings 55-20 before outlasting the Stormers 19-14 last week.

Blackadder, one of the true gentleman of the game, said his team were thrilled to have the opportunity of taking maximum points from their South African tour by beating the Sharks.

History is certainly on their side. The Sharks have a disappointing record against the Crusaders, having won just twice in 16 encounters. But that statistic will not help the visitors tonight.

“It is about how long you can keep up the intensity in these games,” Blackadder said. “I feel that this year’s competition is even more physical than last year. Having said that, I am very pleased with how we have come through in training this week after the toll the Stormers game took on us. It is a short turnaround for us with it being a Friday game and the challenge is there for our guys to step up against a Sharks team that we respect and that will be refreshed from their bye.”

Interestingly, Blackadder said that the Crusaders had taken note of the tragic incident that occurred after the Rebels game and that while their job is to focus on the rugby, they would look forward to the Kings Park post-match experience.

“We were very sad to hear what happened. But the atmosphere on the Kings Park outer fields is special and we always look forward to mixing with the crowd after the game and will do so again,” he said.

Blackadder said his analysis of the Sharks’ season so far reminded him of his own team.

“I think both teams started slowly and are now building towards their best form,” he said. “The Sharks play a bit like New Zealand teams in how they try to use the ball and explore the width of the field.”

The Sharks scored a record 10 tries against the Rebels and while they will find the Crusaders’ defence an entirely different proposition to that of the Melbourne team, they have rediscovered their confidence to cross the try line.

“When we think of the Sharks we think of a team that was good enough to defy the odds and make the final of the 2012 competition,” Blackadder said. “That was some achievement.”

The Crusaders are a team that know better than anybody else what is required to make the Super rugby final. Since 1998, they have played 10 finals and won seven of them, and missed the play-offs just once.

But what will be bugging the good folk of Christchurch is that the last title was won in 2008 and that is four years too long for the most demanding fans in rugby.

But Blackadder knows that panic can only be counter-productive.

“You are under pressure but you have to enjoy what you are doing, otherwise it affects your decision-making, the players, and the people you work with,” he says. “It can’t all be about the one outcome – winning a title.”

He is inferring that each week you do the best you can to secure the result in front of you and then hopefully the title takes care of itself. And it has certainly worked for the Crusaders over the years. They tend to be slow out of the blocks and then build irresistible momentum towards the business end of the competition.

Blackadder’s countryman, John Plumtree, will have been telling his Sharks charges exactly that this week – you let the Crusaders get into their stride at your peril. And that should add up to an explosive start to tonight’s match. It will not be for the faint of heart as two determined, in-form teams fight for the upper hand in a game that is too close to call.

Sharks: Frans Steyn, Odwa Ndungane, Paul Jordaan, Meyer Bosman, JP Pietersen, Pat Lambie, Cobus Reinach, Keegan Daniel (captain), Marcell Coetzee, Jacques Botes, Franco van der Merwe, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jannie du Plessis, Kyle Cooper, Tendai Mtawarira. Replacements: Craig Burden, Wiehahn Herbst, Anton Bresler, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Riaan Viljoen, Louis Ludik / Sbura Sithole.

Crusaders: Tom Marshall, Adam Whitelock Robbie Fruean, Ryan Crotty, Zac Guildford, Tyler Bleyendaal, Andy Ellis, Luke Whitelock, Matt Todd, George Whitelock (captain), Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Ben Funnell, Wyatt Crockett. Replacements: Codie Taylor, Joe Moody, Dominic Bird, Jordan Taufua, Willi Heinz, Telusa Veainu, Israel Dagg.

Referee: Lourens van der Merwe

By Mike Greenaway

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