16 Nov 2008

Is it the luck of the Irish tonight?

6:11 am on 16 November 2008

Ireland is quietly determined ahead of Sunday morning's match against the All Blacks at Croke Park in Dublin.

Brian O'Driscoll will mark his 50th Test as Ireland captain against New Zealand with a 103-year-old record of losses crying out to be ended.

But the form suggests that will not happen and in the build-up to the game, the Irish have been cautious about giving any strong impression of believing they can make history at Croke Park.

Instead, they have adopted the language of quiet determination rather than boisterous expectation.

New Zealand coach Graham Henry has also picked an experienced team, bringing back Ma'a Nonu and Joe Rokocoko in the backs. Dan Carter returns at stand-off, while captain Richie McCaw and Brad Thorn rejoin the pack.

Australia kicked seven penalties to beat an error-plagued England 28-14 in London while France beat the Pacific Islanders 42-17 in Souchaux and Argentina were 22-14 winners over Italy in Turin.

Scotland paid for missed penalties as they lost 14-10 to South Africa at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.