Ireland: Andy Farrell’s men ‘favourites’ for first Test according to All Blacks legend

·2-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Sir John Kirwan believes that the All Blacks go into this weekend’s clash against Ireland as the underdogs.

New Zealand take on Andy Farrell’s side in the first of three Tests in Auckland on Saturday.

Ireland have beaten Saturday’s opponents in three of the past five meetings and their last encounter saw Farrell’s charges triumph 29-20 in Dublin.

However, the first international takes place at Eden Park, a ground the All Blacks haven’t lost at since 1994, while the team’s home record against the Irish is impeccable, but Kirwan insists that the tourists have moved ahead of Ian Foster’s men.

Best European sides

“I think the two northern hemisphere sides that have taken some southern hemisphere style and made it better and added their own style, I think France and Ireland are the two best European sides, I believe, on their day,” Kirwan told The Breakdown.

“You were there, Goldie (former All Black Jeff Wilson), you and I on the sidelines when they beat us over there and they were outstanding, and they’re outstanding in their attack patterns.

“I saw stuff out there that day that I’d never seen before. I think they probably go in, besides being away from home, they go in favourites.”

Kirwan’s prediction was ridiculed by fellow great Jeff Wilson, who pointed to the All Blacks’ incredible record at Eden Park and Ireland’s struggles when playing New Zealand away from home.

Ridiculous comment

“That is the most ridiculous comment, JK, to say they that are the favourites coming in,” Wilson said.

“It’s a tour at the end of the year and you’re saying they’ll beat us. Are you trying to say the All Blacks are underdogs at home? Are you serious? At Eden Park? You have got to be kidding me.

“We recognise all of the threats, there’s no doubt about it, but to say they’re the favourites against the All Blacks in New Zealand, Andy Farrell’s thinking to himself, ‘What’s JK on?’”

Ex-Maori All Blacks and Highlanders lock Joe Wheeler agreed with Wilson due to Ireland’s victories coming either at home or on neutral territory.

“They’ve all been either in Ireland or the US, not New Zealand,” Wheeler said. “We haven’t lost to Ireland in New Zealand. That’s just ridiculous.”

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