11 Nov 2016

All Blacks look to restamp their dominance against Italy

From Morning Report, 8:42 am on 11 November 2016
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Photo: Photosport

The All Blacks 111-year unbeaten run against Ireland is over, as is their record breaking winning streak, so how will the World Champions bounce back in this weekend's test against Italy in Rome?

Italy will have taken inspiration from Ireland's first ever win over the All Blacks, and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland says the historic triumph will have breathed hope into the rest of Europe.

"I think from everyone's point of view, these guys are human, they're like everyone.

"As coaches you try and deliver that message sometimes to say it's like any team, you put them under pressure and they can make mistakes."

In reality, though, the Irish have done the Italians no favours.

The All Blacks are determined to atone, and coach Steve Hansen says they have a history of following rare losses with big wins.

"That's been the case in the past so the challenge for this group now is to be able to do that, get themselves up off the floor and have a good look in the mirror at ourselves, coaches included, and what can we do that we didn't do right and front up against Italy."

Many pundits claimed Ireland's success against the All Blacks came from copying the World Champions, however the Italy coach, former Ireland international Conor O'Shea, says the Azzurri will stick to their own game.

"There's a lot of good players here, but we're looking forward to slightly changing the way we play – we're not going to be stupid, we will cut our cloth.

"There is no point us taking on the All Blacks playing like the All Blacks, we'll lose by a lot, so we'll play a game that suits us."

So, can a classic Italian performance upset the All Blacks on Sunday – it hasn't happened in 29 years of trying and that record shouldn't change.

The Maori All Blacks are also in action this weekend, they take on Munster in Limerick, who until last week were the only Irish side to have beaten New Zealand.

Coach Colin Cooper says the Maori are wary of a Munster side who's mana will be buoyed by Ireland's historic win.

"The stadium is sold out and Ireland beating the All Blacks at the weekend so it's got everyone pretty hummed up here, and it'll be a mighty contest and a mighty battle for us."