Alan Quinlan: Ireland and New Zealand will be united by emotion at the Aviva Stadium

Newstalk Breakfast presenter and ex-Ireland back-row looks ahead to test match

BY Alan Quinlan 12:28 Saturday 19 November 2016, 12:28 19 Nov 2016

The players make their way out for the captain's run ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Throughout the whole 80 minutes in Chicago two weeks ago, there was a real focus and emotional intensity from Ireland.

Lining up in the figure of eight against the Haka to pay tribute to Anthony Foley brought out some more emotion and desire from the players.

That gave them a lot of drive, and they were able to sustain that over the 80 minutes. That was probably the most impressive thing about the performance, on reflection.

They held on to the ball really well, and they were able to maintain that accuracy level throughout the game, right through to the dying minutes when Robbie Henshaw crossed the line for the try.

A lot of these guys would have been involved in 2013 when they ran the All-Blacks very close in Dublin, and they would have remembered that game and learned a lot from that; in particular that you've got to hold onto the ball and be really accurate against this team.

Joe Schmidt prepared his side really well for the game, and everyone was surprised at just how well they were able to reach the highs that they did, considering they didn't have a lot of preparation time or game-time together in advance of the kick-off. Simply put, a lot of these guys wouldn't have played together up until that point. 

Some of them would have been on the tour to South Africa in the summer, but most of them wouldn't have played together since the Six Nations. Despite that, their accuracy was really good, and a lot of that comes down to the coach. Obviously the players have to execute, but in a short space of time the preparation was excellent and they brought that out onto the field.

After the emotion and the high of Chicago, I'd say the team would have been on an incredible high, and it would have taken a fair amount out of them in terms of energy and effort level, not to mention the huge toll it took out of their bodies.

Completely changing the team up to take on Canada last Saturday and getting game time for the rest of the squad was a good idea. Schmidt knows now what he can expect from his replacements, and the starting side for this challenge against New Zealand are fresh and raring to go now this weekend.

Even in their minds, the players who took to the field in Chicago would have had a week and a half to take a good rest, and will be expected to be ready to meet the same standards of excellence they did last time. That is significant because the intensity and pace of the game is going to be a lot higher than it was at Soldier Field.

It's going to be brutal, unbelievably physical, and New Zealand are going to be a lot better.

All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu

For the All Blacks, the anniversary of Jonah Lomu's passing was a year to the day on Friday. He was such an iconic figure in international sport, and they've spoken openly about how he was a hero for a lot of the current All Blacks team.

He was a hero for a lot of guys in the Northern Hemisphere as well. It was very sad what happened and coupled with the passing of Anthony Foley a number of weeks ago, both sides are likely to draw on that emotion as they take to the pitch.

The defeat in Chicago will drive New Zealand on as well. They got a lot of flak at home from the media and their fans, undoubtedly, despite the fact that they've achieved a huge amount. Of course, not all of the squad would have been involved in the 18-straight test victories, but they've had a lot of highs over the summer.

The game in Chicago is seen as a blip as well and they're coming to the Aviva on Saturday to try and right that - we saw what they did against Italy as a reaction. They too will have some things in the well to draw on, and make it more emotionally charged.

That emotion of someone's passing can drive you on and inspire you, and there's no doubt Jonah will be in their thoughts today. 

Ireland will understand what a difference that can make.

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