All Blacks lock Brodie Retallick knows just how important New Zealand’s clash with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night is.
The Test match pits the top two sides in the world rugby rankings against one another as Ireland look to topple the All Blacks for the second time in three years and cement themselves as genuine contenders to New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup throne in Japan next year.
Retallick, who was one of New Zealand’s stand out players against England in their narrow one-point victory at Twickenham, is well aware of the significance of the clash.
Speaking to the media during an All Blacks press conference in Dublin, Retallick suggested that whoever wins Saturday’s game can call themselves the best side in the world.
“Yeah, it’s huge for us,” began Retallick.
“Most of us playing this weekend came early from Japan to get these two games right. There’s been a lot of talk, it’s one vs two so that’s the way we see it.
“Whoever comes out on top is going to be the number one team so it’s a massive game, there’s been no shortage of edge throughout the week.”
Ireland know that despite the vulnerabilities in this All Blacks side, they will still need to put out a huge perform if they are to emulate their heroics of Chicago in 2016.
A historic victory over New Zealand would cap off an unprecedented year of success for Joe Schmidt’s side, having already won the Six Nations Grand Slam as well as a Test series against Australia.
The All Blacks have already outlined that they are extremely wary of the danger that Ireland pose to the world champions, with Retallick identifying the front row as a particular position of strength.
“We are always looking at everybody, how the team plays and their structure.
“Obviously, we’ve played them a handful of times over the last few years, their front rowers are big men who are mobile and like to carry the ball hard as long as your loose forwards so like it was in previous battles between the All Blacks and the Irish it’s going to be physical.”
Retallick’s partner at lock Sam Whitelock, who together will notch up 50 caps as a pair against Ireland on Saturday, was keen to point out that even though it’s easy to get lost in the hype of such a big game, the edge is certainly still present.
‘The hype is awesome,” said Whitelock.
“These are the games you want to be a part of. As a rugby player you want to get out there and test yourselves against the teams who are right up there and this is one of those weeks.”
“It’s great to see that there’s been plenty of edge this week . We’ve training this afternoon so hopefully, we’ll get into it.”