Surely New Zealand are not going to ape their big neighbours across the Tasman. Surely they will not let rain and well-prepared northern visitors cause them to fall over their own feet and sidle off in embarrassed defeat at the final whistle. Surly the All Blacks will be too ready, too canny, too proud for that to happen.
For one thing New Zealanders are far, far more used to inclement weather than Australians. And it is after all midwinter in the Land of the Long White Cloud. But then they have the strength, skill and speed to cope with the weather and Ireland, even if Brian O'Driscoll is back at the helm.
The All Blacks will be aware of post-World Cup fall-off. In fact they will be ready for anything.
Ireland will have the advantage of a break while the All Blacks will be just a week away from the hurly-burly of Super Rugby, but New Zealand players never seem to need/want a rest.
Scrums still matter and on a wet day, even on manicured Eden Park, scrums matter more. One can expect Ireland to suffer at the scrums, especially Cian Healy who is so vigorous about the field, so frail in the scrums. On the other side is first-time international Declan Fitzpatrick who is up against battle-hardened Tony Woodcock and in the middle Rory Best has to deal with the relentless, mocking strength if Andrew Hore. It's hard to see the Irish coping.
Wet of not, loose forwards count a great deal, and here Ireland could well have their best chance of achieving parity - if their tight forwards can cut them a bit of slack. Richie McCaw is not quite the dominant figure he was before injury while Ireland have rugged Sean O'Brien to give them punch. But the speed and skill of Victor Vito and Kieran Read may be too much for the Irish if the All Blacks get running.
There will be a chance to run the ball. The All Blacks will ensure that and a glance at the New Zealand backline suggests great ability and speed. And the playmaker for it all is Dan Carter, so calm and so brilliant. Even Rob Kearney may find it hard to cope with him if he does kick,
It's hard to see where Ireland will get on equal terms with the All Blacks.
Players to Watch:
Firstly there are the new caps - to welcome them, wish they well and see how they fare.
Ireland have wing Simon Zebo, who will be up against exuberant Zac Guildford, and prop Declan Fitzgerald.
New Zealand have wing Julian Savea, big, strong and fast, effervescent scrumhalf Aaron Smith and big lock Brodie Retallick who has been so imposing in the rough world of Super Rugby.
For New Zealand: Zac Guildford has been in wonderful form with his swerving speed. Sonny Bill Williams is so strong and unpredictable and such an imposing figure. The speed and focus of Victor Vito could make him the forward who most catches the eye.
For Ireland: Rob Kearney, Europe's Player of the Year, so fearless, so skilled and always willing to counterattack. He could just be Ireland's best strike weapon.
Head to Head: Sonny Bill Williams against mercurial Keith Earls, Israel Dagg against Rob Kearney at opposite ends of the field but doing similar jobs, the two rookie scrumhalves Conor Murray and Aaron Smith. The contest between scrumhalves is always a fascinating one. For one thing it lasts for 80 minutes. The Irish may well find hyperactive Smith a handful.
2010: New Zealand won 38-18 at Lansdowne Road, Dublin
2010: New Zealand won 66-28 at New Plymouth
2008: New Zealand won 22-3 at Croke Park, Dublin
2008: New Zealand won 21-11 at Westpac Trust, Wellington
2006: New Zealand won 27-17 at Eden Park, Auckland
2006: New Zealand won 34-23 at Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
2005: New Zealand won 45-7 at Lansdowne Road, Dublin
2002: New Zealand won 40-8 at Eden Park, Auckland
2002: New Zealand won 15-6 at Carisbrook, Dunedin
2001: New Zealand won 40-29 at Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Prediction: New Zealand - as every Irishman will be aware - have never lost to Ireland, not in 24 matches. They have won 24 and there was a draw in 1973. We predict that New Zealand will win by 15 or more.
New Zealand: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Daniel Carter, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Victor Vito, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Tony Woodcock.
Replacements: 16 Hikawera Elliot, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Ali Williams, 19 Adam Thomson, 20 Piri Weepu, 21 Aaron Cruden, 22 Ben Smith.
Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Keith Earls, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Dan Touhy, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 Donncha O’Callaghan, 19 Kevin McLaughlin, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Ronan O'Gara, 22 Darren Cave.
Date: Saturday, June 9
Kick-off: 19.35 (07.35 GMT)
Venue: Eden Park, Auckland
Expected weather conditions: 70% chance of rain with a high of 16°C, dropping to 11°C.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Matt Goddard (Australia)
By Paul Dobson
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