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Bernard Jackman says Ireland have the tools to trouble New Zealand

By Paul Smith
Ireland scored nine tries against Japan at the Aviva Stadium (PA)

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After seeing Ireland demolish Japan with some superb attacking rugby, former hooker Bernard Jackman now believes Andy Farrell’s team will this Saturday present New Zealand with a formidable test.

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Speaking to RTE’s Morning Ireland, Jackman, who also had a spell in Wales as Dragons head coach, singled out scrum half Jamison Gibson-Park plus wingers James Lowe and Andrew Conway as key attacking weapons.

“All three of them were outstanding, and more importantly for me, we played to their strengths,” he said.

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Wayne Pivac on the pitch invader
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Wayne Pivac on the pitch invader

“Gibson-Park is a high tempo no.9, we didn’t do a lot of box-kicking, we moved the point of attack.

“When we did kick contestable kicks, they were down the right, allowing Conway use his strength in the air.

“We didn’t keep Lowe on the left wing, he was roving around, and made three line breaks up the middle where he came in from full-back.”

“With Andrew Porter as a loose head, Caelan Doris back from injury and Jack Conan’s form, Ireland has a different type of ball player across the field and I’m excited by it.”

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New Zealand have won 12 of their 13 matches in 2021, but despite this Jackman believes they are traditionally at their most vulnerable during the autumn.

“November is when the All Blacks try new players and they are trying new players,” he said.

“They have had an easy run. Wales had a second-string team against them, they beat USA by 100 points and won at the weekend against Italy, so they are coming here not really having been in a dog fight or a test.

“South Africa beat them in the Rugby Championship. I think they are potentially vulnerable and I think we have a cracking chance.”

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Since going 111 years and 28 games waiting for their first win over New Zealand, after eventually breaking their duck in 2016 Ireland have won two of the last four games between the nations.

However, Ian Foster’s side came out on top in their most recent meeting in the 2019 World Cup quarter-final, and start as clear favourites.

Ireland head coach Farrell has today received a major boost with the news that British & Irish Lions centre Robbie Henshaw has returned to training following a foot injury.

Henshaw who is yet to launch his 2021/22 season having missed Leinster’s opening five United Rugby Championship games, faces stiff competition for an Ireland starting berth in the form of Bundee Aki and Garry Ringrose who both scored tries in Saturday’s hammering of the Brave Blossoms.

However, Munster no.8 Gavin Coombes will miss Saturday’s game at the Aviva Stadium due to an illness which the IRFU say will prevent him from training this week. This is not thought to be COVID-19 related.

 

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