Kearney comes in as Ireland host All Blacks

Rex Christensen
November 18, 2018

Having scaled new heights in recent seasons under Schmidt, Ireland - despite the loss of Robbie Henshaw, Sean O'Brien, Conor Murray and Dan Leavy through injury - have never been as equipped to challenge the All Blacks' status as the world's best.

The All Blacks escaped from Twickenham unscathed last weekend, despite going 15-0 down to England.

An Irish visit to the New Zealand half came and went with Whitelock picking off Seán Cronin's throw, but Luke McGrath and Stander forced a turnover at the other end as the clock ticked into the last 10 minutes.

"We won't care about the performance [against New Zealand] if we get a result", O'Driscoll said.

But Scott Barrett got up to disrupt the lineout, allowing the men in black to emerge with the ball and clear the danger.

Best will win his 113th cap on Saturday amid questions over his role as Ireland's number one hooker heading towards next year's World Cup due to both his age and his lineout throwing, which came under pressure from the Argentinians in last week's 28-17 victory for the hosts.

The two best teams on the planet going toe to toe.

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"New Zealand have some fantastic lineout forwards".

"It is one and two, so whoever wins will be the best side in the world regardless of rankings".

It seems the flawless irony, knowing you have earned the All Blacks' respect once they start disrespecting you.

"You've got to admire all of that, it's winning and they'll punish you". "It's been on the calendar for 12 months, ' he said. This time of year particularly, we're coming to the end of our season and we've got to find ways to get energised and play with real goal". - New Zealand's Beauden Barrett has scored 106 Test points in 2018, the most of any player and one of just two (Handre Pollard, 100) to have reached a century this year.

"What most people don't understand is that everybody we play has the game of their lives, because we're the team that they want to beat and they get up for it", he said. They are incredibly physical in the tackle area and the carry and at the breakdown.

"But there will definitely be a feeling that you can get a one-up on someone you could find yourself meeting at some stage in the World Cup, because they're the best team in the world, and from Ireland's perspective that's either going to be at a quarterfinal stage or in the final".

Read, for his part, said he was looking forward to an "awesome Test". "I know we have to prepare as well as we can physically".

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