Dazzling Ireland claim historic All Blacks scalp in Dublin

Karl Tu'inukuafe on the charge against South Africa in Wellington in September

SPORTKarl Tu'inukuafe on the charge against South Africa in Wellington in September

Ireland's entire November series has been building up to the All Blacks clash, with the opening fixtures against Italy and Argentina becoming nearly like warm-up games for head coach Joe Schmidt.

"We were at home, and they were coming off a long series of games where they have traveled around the world a number of times".

"I think as a collective team. they are all pretty relieved".

New Zealand will be favourites going into the match, but on home soil, anything is possible for an Ireland team that has managed wins against Argentina and Italy in recent weeks.

We'll never get exhausted of seeing this.

"Look, you've got to admire what they're doing", said Hansen.

Ireland were languishing in eighth place in the world rankings when Schmidt took the helm in late 2013.

"I remember that one minute and 39 seconds that it took them from the tap penalty to the tryline when Ryan Crotty goes over", he said with a grimace. 'For us, we'll need to be strong at set piece, both on our ball and theirs, and be prepared to work hard with or without the ball.

In the lead-up to this game, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen suggested that the victor of this encounter should be regarded as the No 1 side in Test rugby.

The absence of Murray, who plays a crucial role in Ireland's kicking game, has created an opportunity for Kieran Marmion to impress the Ireland coach, while 6ft 10in Devin Toner has replaced Iain Henderson in the second row ahead of the anticipated aerial contest this weekend.

"Whenever you have got somebody who is six inches taller than everyone else - if the throw is spot on and he's jumping with two lifters - it's almost impossible to stop him taking a banker ball every time and obviously he knows the options that they have inside out. So you've got to gear up for that", the Ireland captain added. "If you had Murray on there I'd be a lot more confident".

That was as close as New Zealand would come and Stockdale quickly made up for his error as a brilliant lineout move - a Joe Schmidt special - switched play back onto the blindside to put the Ulster winger into space to chip through and collect.

"What most people don't understand is that everybody we play has the game of their lives, because we're the team that they want to beat and they get up for for it".

Ireland host New Zealand in tonight's blockbuster Autumn International from Dublin.

"I think it'll be an awesome Test match, and that's what I'm looking forward to".

"All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said that the victor of this game could justifiably claim to the world's best team and, while they remain No 2 on the rankings, Joe Schmidt's Ireland are top of the world".

It marks yet another high point for New Zealand-born Schmidt's Six Nations Grand Slam winners, who will hope to maintain this form all the way to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

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