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'I'm sure Joe has been in the think-tank devising something': Ireland ready to adapt for 'Blacklash'

The All Blacks will be out to prove a point after losing their first ever game to Ireland.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

SINCE BREAKING THAT 111-year winless run of not beating New Zealand, the Ireland camp has done a decent job of playing down the achievement.

That’s probably a wise course of action when you play the world champions a second time 14 days after a historic victory. The world expects the All Blacks to exact retribution after shipping five tries in Soldier Field. Giving Italy a hiding just won’t cover it.

There are always ‘work-ons’ and improvements to talk about, but now that match week is here again, Ireland’s players can start openly trusting in their capabilities and also the methods given to them by Joe Schmidt.

“We weren’t happy with our maul defence against Canada, our attack structure, there’s areas there and there’s areas of our defence in Chicago too,” said Sean Cronin in Carton House today.

“I’m sure Joe has been in the think-tank with the rest of the coaches devising something for us, and there’s no better man than Joe to put together a gameplan to go and attack them this week.”

Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, Jared Payne and Sean Cronin celebrate winning Source: INPHO/Billy Stickland

Of the areas Cronin lists above, defence will surely take the most scrutiny in the build-up to another clash with the world’s best team. Conceding four tries in Chicago would have been reason enough to stoke Andy Farrell’s efforts this week, but three more at home to Canada will have the new defence coach hammering home his point with venom.

“We are not going to be able to give away soft scores like that this weekend,” insists Cronin.

“That’s a big area for us, on D, especially when they get into our 22. There is a big focus there. That’s a big key area that we can look to up a few per cent in the game at the weekend.”

Up front New Zealand will undoubtedly be a different animal this time around. Sam Whitelock ‘has a few hurdles’ to pass before he proves his fitness to face Ireland, but Brodie Retallick is ready to return and give the All Blacks at least one half of the world’s best second row partnership.

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Having wrought havoc on the Kiwi line-out and maul in Soldier Field, Retallick’s presence may force Ireland to probe elsewhere for rare All Black weaknesses.

Sean Cronin and Lucas Rumball

The difference for Schmidt’s men, however, is that they now have the confidence and experience of beating the once ‘unbeatable.’ Cronin was one of the men on the field as they kept the foot on the pedal when there must have been nagging doubts telling them to slow down and shut up shop.

“We always have confidence that we can go out and match any team on the day, as long as we put in the performance and put together the different aspects of a team the calibre of New Zealand.

“We know we have world class players. As long as we get the attitude right, the physicality and the mentality, we know we can match anyone, but it’s going to have to go up there, it’s going to have  to go up a few points to beat them at the weekend.”

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