THE ROPE-A-DOPE HAS dragged on for 108 years with with Ireland sharing the spoils on one occasion. The other 26 rounds have gone to the All Black corner.
This Sunday at Lansdowne Road, Ireland will pitch their greatest ever player and his teammates into battle against the world champions. Let us cast our doubts to one side and focus on the positives as, for the 28th time, 15 Irishmen look to create history.
Here are nine reasons to be hopeful ahead of Sunday’s clash at Lansdowne Road.
1. We’ve got an inside man on the Kiwi state of mind
Joe Schmidt will be keen to pull one over on his fellow countrymen and will have his squad primed for the All Black challenge. Leinster benefited to the tune of four cups in three years under stead stead. His enthusiasm is said to be infectious and his hands-on training drills [see video] could be the key to unlocking the Kiwis.
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2. Irish fans will get in an extra bit of Mass before kick-off
3. Sonny Bill Williams is off chasing Rugby League glory
Take that Papua New Guinea! Dave Howarth/DAH Sports Images/Press Association Images
4. Brian O’Driscoll MUST beat the All Blacks once… surely?!
Remember the sheer brilliance of this one-handed scoop in 2010?
BOD is due some success after being battered, bruised and speared by the ruthless AB’s over the years.
Heartbreak in Christchurch in 2012. INPHO/Billy Stickland
5. Richie McCaw is due another yellow card one of these years
The All Blacks captain has been sent to the sin bin once in his 123-Test career. He earned the yellow card against Wales in 2006. Seven years and countless infringements later and Richie is still plugging away.
Sure take a rest there Richie. No need to stay on your feet. INPHO/Billy Stickland
The great man told the Sydney Morning Herald in 2010: “I always think the things I’m trying to do are the right things and if he’s penalising me for some reason I think ‘jeez. I’m not going to get away with that today’ or ‘that’s not going to work with this ref’. Each ref is a little bit different. I have a fairly good understanding of where they’ll sit, just through experiences.”
6. There are 11 victorious British & Irish Lions in the starting XV
Sean O’Brien, Conor Murray, Tommy Bowe and Jonathan Sexton all starred in the crucial third Test win over Australia and must have some confidence in reserve. Cian Healy and Paul O’Connell would have started that finale had injury not intervened. Gordon D’Arcy was a Lion in 2005.
O’Brien and Murray added to their rugby reputations Down Under. INPHO/Dan Sheridan
7. Hosea Gear is not playing
Poor Keith Earls’ jaw is still ringing after this fend-off in 2012:
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8. The hamstring may be banjoed by Jonny Sexton remains a world-beater
Give us 60/70 minutes of your best young Sexton and we’ll let Racing Métro nurse you over the winter months.
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9. If in doubt, we’ll thrown George Morgan on
Here’s the 13-year-old wunderkind slotting over penalties for fun at the All Blacks training session this week.
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