Ireland’s Joe Schmidt expects ‘spiky’ All Blacks encounter to decide world’s best

first_img Facebook Quick guide Ireland team Thank you for your feedback. Topics New Zealand rugby union team Ireland’s last match against the All Blacks was a brutal affair that ended in a 21-9 New Zealand win. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Show The instances surrounding the former All Blacks midfielder Malakai Fekitoa, lucky to avoid a red card, and the flanker Sam Cane, who went unpunished for a hit on Robbie Henshaw, left a sour taste.Schmidt believes many decisions that day left everyone befuddled and says more must be done to protect players.“At that stage we had just had pretty clear diktat that player safety was paramount,” Schmidt said. “We felt in that game that more could have been done to make sure that was delivered. Anyone watching can make their own decisions.”Privately, however, the All Blacks are firmly of the view the moaning has gone on long enough. They also feel two incidents involving Johnny Sexton – one a blatant high shot on Beauden Barrett – also deserved cards and have since been ignored whenever that intense battle is recalled.Whatever side of the fence one sits, the scene is set for another fascinating chapter in this fierce rivalry. Schmidt expects a similar battleground to play out before the referee, Wayne Barnes, on Saturday, and urged his men to “give as good as we get”.“We have admiration, frustration, that it occurred but in the context of what we had been told it was not in line with that. We’d had a few guys who did get knocked about in that game. If it is spiky, that’s something Barnesy will be able to cope with. He is one of most experienced refs in international rugby. … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay. Whether we are up close or further away, the Guardian brings our readers a global perspective on the most critical issues of our lifetimes – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. We believe complex stories need context in order for us to truly understand them. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Share on Messenger Support The Guardian Ireland team v New ZealandR Kearney (Leinster, above) K Earls (Munster), G Ringrose (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht), J Stockdale (Ulster), J Sexton (Leinster), K Marmion (Connacht), C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster, capt), T Furlong, D Toner, J Ryan (all Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), D Leavy (Leinster), CJ Stander (Munster). Replacements S Cronin, J McGrath, A Porter (all Leinster), I Henderson (Ulster), J van der Flier, L McGrath, J Carbery, J Larmour (all Leinster).  Since you’re here… Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Rex Features Ryan Crotty the only change to All Blacks side for Ireland clash Test rugby is no place for the faint-hearted. With this in mind, Joe Schmidt has predicted another “spiky” clash with the All Blacks which will, in the visitors’ minds at least, decide the mantle of the world’s best team.In their past three drama-filled Tests only three points separate the All Blacks and Ireland, the two top-ranked sides, but much of that engrossing recent history has faded to form a near singular focus on the brutality that punctuated their last match in Dublin.Arriving two weeks after being stunned by Ireland for the first time in Chicago, the All Blacks supercharged their defensive physicality and copped two yellow cards in their 21-9 revenge-driven victory in 2016. Read more Was this helpful?center_img Share via Email Autumn internationals Schmidt defends Aki’s right to play for IrelandJoe Schmidt has strongly defended Bundee Aki’s right and readiness to wear Ireland’s colours against his native New Zealand on Saturday. The Connacht centre will face the All Blacks for the first time while earning his 12th Ireland cap.New Zealand may view the former Waikato Chiefs player as one who got away but Schmidt said the 28-year-old, who qualifies for Ireland on residency, has long since proved his Test loyalties.“I think Bundee has fully demonstrated his commitment through the last year,” Schmidt said. “He made his debut against South Africa last year in this particular section of the year and in 2016 he won [the PRO12] personality of the year. That’s the nature of Bundee and his popularity. Because everybody knows he’s going to give 100%.“It’s like asking was Jerome Kaino 100% ready to play for the All Blacks, because he was born in a foreign country, or Chris Masoe, or Joe Rokocoko; or any of those guys. So having coached all those guys, they were very ready to play for the All Blacks. I know Bundee Aki is very ready to play for us in this weekend’s fixture.” Share on WhatsApp Twitter Share on Facebook Pinterest Share on Pinterest Ireland rugby union team Share on Twitter news “I don’t think the All Blacks give up too many cards of any colour and we like to think the same. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t get spiky. It can be within the rules, spiky and physical. That is exactly what it will be like, not outside the remit of what has been set down in regards to player welfare. But within that they won’t be looking after each other too well. That is the nature of the game. It is a collision sport.“I know their boys can’t wait to get into it and our boys are the same. But at the same time, we’ve got to get out there and give as good as we get. And that’s what will make it a fairly spiky contest.”Schmidt, widely respected for his meticulous attention to detail and creative, analytical rugby mind, is sure to have devised set moves with this match in mind. He would love nothing more than to catch his countrymen off-guard and snare another prized victory less than one year out from the World Cup.“I’m not sure we’ve cooked up many surprises but you’d certainly love to be able to create a little bit of time and space somewhere so we’re going to have to be a little bit clever.”Steve Hansen suggested Ireland’s transformation from well-beaten World Cup quarter-finalists to contenders for global supremacy represents the major turnaround from all northern nations.“The best thing that ever happened to northern hemisphere rugby was you didn’t make any of the semi-finals in the World Cup,” the New Zealand coach said. “Ireland were particularly disappointed about their World Cup. They went in there with high hopes and a performing team and some injuries and maybe not playing as well as they would have liked.“They’ve come back strong. England have come back strong. France are starting to get their stuff together, so when you’ve got teams who are raising the bar and playing each other regularly it’s got to be good for you.” Share on LinkedIn Rugby union Hide Reuse this contentlast_img read more