Sunday 17 February 2019

'They are so tactically astute' - Ex-Lions captain Sam Warburton backs Ireland to beat the All Blacks

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Former Lions captain Sam Warburton has tipped Ireland to beat the All Blacks for the first time ever on home soil.

Joe Schmidt masterminded a famous win in Chicago two years ago, with the hype for this evening's clash growing by the second ahead of the match-up between the Grand Slam champions and the Rugby Championship winners.

Ireland have climbed to number two in the world, and could lay down a huge marker ahead of the 2019 World Cup if they claim another famous win over Steve Hansen's men.

Writing in The Times, the recently retired Wales star Sam Warburton has predicted an Ireland win.

"I said at the start of the autumn that Ireland would beat New Zealand today and I am sticking by that," the two-time Lions captain said.

"Why do I think that Ireland will win? It is because they are so tactically astute. They are well coached too. They analyse teams well and then break them down accordingly because of that. They go into great detail. And they have very intelligent players to execute their plans, as well as a nasty edge when needed.

"I always found Ireland to be the hardest team in the Six Nations to play against. It is because they are so good at keeping the ball.

"I remember playing them once on a Saturday and we were playing Italy the following Saturday. On the Friday we were doing lineouts for the Italy game and my shoulders were still sore because we had had to make so many tackles against Ireland six days before.

"Shaun Edwards always used to tell us that, when you play Ireland, you are going to have to make a minimum of 200 tackles. That is always a lot in an international match. The norm is somewhere around 150 or 160."

Ireland last played the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium in 2016, with the world champions claiming a 21-9 victory following an ill-tempered encounter.

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