Ireland's style of rugby has proven to be a stubborn and difficult obstacle for the New Zealand team in recent years, according to Kiwi journalist Gregor Paul.
Ireland face the All Blacks this Saturday at the Aviva Stadium, as part of the Autumn International series.
"Going to the Aviva is up there with going to Ellis Park, Twickenham or Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. It’s tough to get a result there" says Paul.
Ireland's style of play
Ireland's philosophy of accurate kicking has also caught Paul's attention.
"From the type of rugby I’ve seen Ireland play, it tends to be low risk. There’s a very good kicking game, good contestable kicks. They challenge for the ball well. They don’t take a lot of risks in their own territory” says Paul.
Head to head
New Zealand needs no introduction. In the 32 test matches between the two countries, New Zealand has won 29 of them. At times, in bone-crunching fashion.
Stacked up against the records is what makes Ireland's recent victories all the more precious. Our first win came in 2016 out in Chicago, churning out a mighty 40-29 win.
The first on home soil came two years later, finishing 16-9 – a result that didn't sit with well back in New Zealand.
"That loss in Dublin really hurt them [New Zealand]. Because Ireland outplayed them that day," says Paul.
"When the All Blacks don't win a game you go 'oh somethings not quite right for them. The referee did them over etc.' This time, Ireland just beat them. Fair and square" says Paul.
Ruthless All Blacks
But it has been since that gruelling test match in 2013 in Dublin that opinion began to shift in New Zealand, according to Paul.
Beforehand, coming to Dublin was seen as a routine walkabout. Despite the defeat, the All Blacks certainly had to fight for victory right to the end – something they've never encountered against Ireland.
Ireland were on track for their first ever test win, 22-17 up in the 80th minute. But a late All Blacks' surge saw Ryan Crotty finish off a relentless passage of play – breaking Irish hearts in the process.
No easy battle
Although coming into the game on top of a comprehensive victory against Japan, the All Blacks will not be the same beast for Ireland. Saturday will prove to be a real test of our mettle.
Meanwhile, despite their strict quarantine protocols, the All Blacks have been able to enjoy a different kind of black stuff while in Dublin.
Sláinte 🇮🇪 pic.twitter.com/UpiDe99hkm
— Beauden Barrett (@beaudenbarrett) November 9, 2021