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Dublin: -1°C Sunday 24 January 2021
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Ireland expecting 'the real All Blacks' to show up and pose aerial threat in Dublin

Richie Murphy expects Israel Dagg to provide more of a three-dimensional threat when the world champions come for revenge.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRELAND SKILLS COACH Richie Murphy is expecting ‘the real All Blacks’ to perform in Dublin this Saturday after the world champions’ performance was littered with uncharacteristic errors in Chicago.

New Zealand’s win over Italy in Rome last weekend brought their record to 19 wins from 20 matches, only the meeting with Ireland in Soldier Field blotting their copybook. Fortunately, from the point of view of Steve Hansen and his squad, they have not had long to wait for a chance to set the 111-year record straight again.

“They’ll be a completely different animal this week. It’s not often they get beaten and when they do there’s always a massive reaction,” says Murphy.

“They’ll change a bit, they’ll try to kick a lot more than they did in Chicago, they kicked more at the weekend against Italy. They’ll have looked at our tapes over the last couple of weeks and have us worked out reasonably well.”

Murphy shrugs off the suggestion that forcing New Zealand into a change of tack should be taken as a badge of honour for the coaching ticket.

However, in the lead-up to the Soldier Field encounter, World Cup-winning coach Steve Hansen appeared to accept that there was an aerial weakness in his side as he said:

Both (Waisake Naholo and Julian Savea) are good finishers. Israel (Dagg) is probably a bit better in the air than both of them, but both of them are okay. I think they’ll get tested in that area, so we’ll see how they’re going.”

Hansen trusted the superior outside gas of Naholo and Savea over the high-fielding prowess of Dagg. It was a gamble that back-fired right into the palms of Rob Kearney.

“Each team you play as a coach, you’ll look at putting your best foot forward,” says Murphy, almost consoling Hansen for his choice.

“Maybe they thought that was the case in Soldier Field. What they’ll do this week, I’m not quite sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Israel Dagg played in the back three this week.”

Murphy rightly points out that an increase in putting boot to ball for the All Blacks would be more of a return to form than a deviation to cater for Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Simon Zebo. Yet the All Blacks were clearly confident that their running threat would be enough to put Ireland away on a hot Chicago day.

“I don’t think they’ll make as many unforced errors as they did. We’ll be expecting the real All Blacks to turn up and it’s up to us to make sure we’re  in a position to challenge that.”

Did we not just beat the real All Blacks, Richie?

“They were. That might be talking ourselves down a bit. We were good and put them under pressure, but there were unforced errors you don’t normally see them make.

“They’re probably in a position where they hadn’t really been in the rest of the season.”

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