INTERNATIONAL RUGBY: Joe Schmidt primes Ireland for All Blacks battle

Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland Head Coach Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt has challenged Ireland to withstand a furious backlash from a “fully-loaded” All Blacks side seeking revenge in Dublin on Saturday.

Head coach Schmidt has admitted Ireland caught New Zealand at an “opportune time” for their maiden victory over the All Blacks, the 40-29 win in Chicago on November 5.

Steve Hansen’s back-to-back world champions were hamstrung by a host of second-row injury problems that day, but will have peerless lock Brodie Retallick back in his unique auxiliary playmaker role at the Aviva Stadium.

Ireland boss Schmidt accepts that most neutrals expect New Zealand to exact a brutal revenge for that Soldier Field defeat when the teams meet again, but will still target another landmark performance from his side.

“I think they’ll come full-strength, fully loaded; maybe we surprised them a little bit in Chicago,” said Schmidt.

“I read that they didn’t really look back too much at the defeat to us before playing Italy this weekend.

“Well they have that game done and now they will look at us over the next few days, and they’ll have a really good plan.

“They are extremely well coached and incredibly well prepared physically, and I think the rate they play at if they have the ball, you’re under pressure if they’ve got it.

“And I think they’ll have more access to it if they’ve got their second row back.”