The All Blacks will visit the Aviva Stadium in November for what’s sure to be a terrific contest.
Ireland finally ended a 111-year wait for a victory over New Zealand at Soldier Field, Chicago in 2016, and though they lost the return leg 21-9 in Dublin, Irish legend Ronan O’Gara believes that his country won’t have to wait another century to cause an upset.
The closest Ireland have come to a home win in recent decades was a narrow 24-22 defeat in 2013, with O’Gara retiring from the game earlier that year.
Now based in New Zealand as an assistant Backs coach for the Crusaders, the 41-year-old spoke to the Otago Daily Times about the upcoming Autumn International, and he feels that the home support, along with the Test schedule, can play into the hands of Joe Schmidt’s side.
“New Zealand plays England the Saturday before Ireland,” O’Gara told the outlet, with whom he also discussed Ireland’s World Cup chances and his thoughts on Richie Mo’unga. “That’s two big games in a row and you have to remember these guys are touring, so will it be their full team and what combinations will they pick?
“For the Home Nations, it is the biggest game after the Six Nations. When New Zealand come, that’s the one everyone wants to be at.”
The All Blacks visit Tokyo to face Japan and play England in London in the two weeks prior to the Aviva clash, before travelling to Rome to round out their Northern Tour.
For ‘ROG’, home support can make the difference but only if the home side get off to a fast start like they did on that infamous day in Chicago, where they led 25-8 at half time.
“Home advantage is big,” he continued. “You’ll have 50,000 mad Irish people in there. If Ireland gets a start like they did the last time, I think they’ll finish the job this time.
“But I would like to think New Zealand in their heads will be thinking ‘we can’t start the game like that or give away easy scores’. It will be a great game, and tactically so interesting to see how both teams go about it.”
Steve Hansen’s charges currently lead the Rugby Championship with two rounds remaining despite a recent defeat to South Africa.