The last time the All Blacks crossed paths with Ireland, many would agree that the pivotal moment in the game was when Jamie Heaslip approached a ruck leading with his knee, and was red carded that allowed New Zealand to run rampant in the first half, en route to a 66-28 victory.
Replays showed that it appeared that Heaslip was targeting All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, and even Irish coach Declan Kidney said after the match that it seemed to be something of a brain explosion.But McCaw, ever the diplomat, said that he had put the incident behind him, and that he and the All Blacks would carry no grudge towards Ireland or their enforcing back rower.
“Those things sometimes happen on the field so you just move on,” McCaw said to the Irish times. “I don’t get carried away and I definitely don’t carry grudges. I can put that stuff away and get on with the game.”
Ireland carries fond memories for McCaw, who made his test debut against the side at Lansdowne Road in 2001. The All Blacks won that match 40-29.On November 20 the two teams will run out at the same location, except that the oldest test venue in world rugby has now been given a wonderful revamp, with Aviva Stadium and 50,000 Irishmen and woman likely to give the All Blacks a rousing reception.McCaw was looking forward to the tour, and as always expected a difficult encounter with the men from the Emerald Isle.
“We’re looking forward to all the games, they all have something different. The Irish game will be the first time we have played at the new stadium, so that will be special,” McCaw said.“The last time we played, in June, we only had the better of things in the first half. They played most of the rugby in the second half and scored some good tries.“So we know that if we don’t turn up with the right attitude, we will have a tough day. I’ve never had an easy win in Dublin.”
The All Blacks have played Ireland 23 times, winning on 22 occasions, with the teams playing out a 10-10 draw in 1973.