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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018

'We’re going to need the best performance of our season' - Read

The All Blacks captain stressed the importance of physicality against Ireland.

NEW ZEALAND CAPTAIN Kieran Read stressed that his team need to deliver their strongest display of the year if they’re to beat Ireland in Dublin tomorrow.

The All Blacks have lost once in their 12 Tests so far this season but face a demanding challenge against Joe Schmidt’s Ireland, ranked second in the world behind the Kiwis.

Kieran Read speaks to the media Read at the Aviva Stadium today. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has made a single change to his team for the clash with Ireland, an enforced one that sees Ryan Crotty replacing the injured Sonny Bill Williams.

With a fixture against Italy to follow next weekend, the All Blacks are keen to finish out their year with two more victories but appreciate that tomorrow will be require something special.

“We’re going to need the best performance of our season, I think, the way the Irish have been playing,” said Read at his team’s captain’s run at the Aviva Stadium today.

“I know we’ve prepared as well as we can physically, and the guys are looking forward to it, mate. We’re going to go out there and give it our all.

“[Ireland] are a very structured side. In terms of how they hold onto the ball, they’re the best probably of the tier-one nations in the world.

“They also have the ability to defend pretty strongly as well. They’re a pretty good side.

“We’ve got to find our opportunities. We can’t be too hungry to look for those opportunities, just be patient.

“Discipline is going to be crucial and then when we get the chances to get the ball back, we do that.”

Aaron Smith Smith's passing is exceptional. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Tomorrow sees Kiwi scrum-half Aaron Smith becoming the most capped All Blacks halfback of all time and his team-mates are keen to make it a memorable occasion for him.

Smith’s passing accuracy and speed, kicking game, support play and organisational ability are all vital for the Kiwis and Read is happy to be alongside him.

“You can’t look past his pass,” said Read. “There’s probably no one better in the world than Aaron. He’s been a great foil for me as a number eight and we’re good mates off the field, so I’m really pleased for him.”

The All Blacks captain stressed that “physicality and intensity wins Test matches” in underlining that his team have been looking forward to this game in Dublin for a year.

“It’s been on the calendar for a while, I guess 12 months,” said Read.

“It’s an exciting time. Any game you come across to this part of the world, and these teams are playing pretty well, the Irish are undoubtedly the best side up here at the moment and for us to challenge ourselves in their conditions, it’s an exciting time.”

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Murray Kinsella

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