Green light for Irish trio
Ireland's three injury concerns for this afternoon's Test with the All Blacks – Johnny Sexton, Brian O'Driscoll and Rob Kearney – came through yesterday's captain's run at Lansdowne Road without incident. Moreover, defence coach Les Kiss said he expected Sexton, who pulled up with a hamstring injury just before the break in the defeat by Australia last weekend, to last the 80 minutes.
"Absolutely," he said. "We were happy enough yesterday as well to tell you the truth. Monitoring those things and making sure you just manage it properly was something we did earlier in the week and they're (all three) fine."
Ireland's record in the fixture is worse than against any other nation and New Zealand remain the only team Ireland have failed to beat, despite 27 attempts. The All Blacks are chasing a new target of 14 consecutive wins in a season which signs off today. Combined with the no-show against Australia last weekend, it leaves Ireland needing to combine accuracy with fury to survive.
"I think every Test match has to have a level of it but I think it's important for us to put in a performance with a bit of that in it just for ourselves and the fans," Peter O'Mahony said yesterday. "They were great for us the last two games but we haven't given them anything back yet. It's important for them to see it in us this weekend, how much it means to us to play in an Irish jersey and that's included in that – a bit of fury and a bit of the real desire. They need to see the whites in our eyes. That's going to be important for us."
While the New Zealand camp are selling the game as just one more contest before they wrap up their season, O'Mahony says it's a bigger deal to the home team.
"It's probably the biggest game of the year for us, finishing off the November series, and after last week – we put the jersey back on the peg and we didn't do it justice," he said. "We have to have a performance this weekend that we're proud of and that shows how hungry we are and how proud we are to put a starting jersey on for Ireland and how special it is. That's probably the number one for us."
The match was sold out a month ago and the bookies are offering the All Blacks at minus 19 points even money.