History against Ireland but we live in the present

Ireland's best result against New Zealand was a 10-10 draw in 1973

BY Simon Maguire 15:06 Saturday 5 November 2016, 15:06 5 Nov 2016

Ireland head into tonight's game against New Zealand facing the world champions on an 18 match winning streak and with no intention of being the first senior men's international side from Aotearoa to lose to the Irish.

The number one ranked team in the world recently added the 2016 Rugby Championship trophy to their impressive CV and now begin their end of year tour looking to extend their winning run to 22 matches. They face Ireland twice, Italy and France.

Ireland have been in transition since the last world cup with head coach Joe Schmidt widening his player pool during this year's 6 Nations Championship as retirements and injuries ruled out several key men for most of the year.

A first test win in South Africa in the summer against the home side was followed by two narrow losses handing the springboks a series win. Ireland toured the southern African nation without a host of front line players such as Sean O'Brien, Peter O'Mahony, Tommy Bowe and Cian Healy to name but a few. 

There is no way to downplay the challenge in front of Ireland later today in Chicago. They face a New Zealand team which looks like they are playing another sport at times, such is their dominance of the game at present.

After retaining their world title in England last year, New Zealand lost established icons Richie McCaw, Dan Carter, Conrad Smith and Ma Nonu to retirement and overseas clubs. They have replaced those senior players seamlessly as their younger protégés have transitioned into the squad and built on the impressive foundations laid before them.

For all the references to the closely fought 24-22 defeat Ireland suffered in 2013, they caught New Zealand cold that day. Joe Schmidt had just taken over an Irish team in disarray. A humiliating 2013 6 Nations saw Ireland lose to England, Scotland and Italy and left the men in green in joint bottom spot ahead of France on points difference.

The following November, Australia had beaten Ireland 32-15 a week before New Zealand arrived in town . The visitors were looking for one more win for the perfect year against what appeared to be a substandard home side.

Instead, Ireland came flying out of the blocks and were ahead 19-0 before New Zealand new what had hit them. In the end, the visitors claimed a famous win to keep their perfect year and hand the Irish yet another defeat.

Don't count on them starting slow tonight. Then again, we don't live in the past either. 

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