Rory Best has urged Ireland not to fear the All Blacks, despite admitting Joe Schmidt’s men will probably face the best team of all time in Chicago.
Former New Zealand hooker Sean Fitzpatrick has already hailed this All Blacks generation as the best rugby team of all time.
Best finds it hard to ignore the 92-cap former front-rower’s rating, but insisted Ireland will not be overawed at the Chicago Bears’ stadium this weekend.
Speaking between the klaxons as the Chicago Cubs’ World Series victory parade bus tour trawled past Trump International Tower - Ireland’s team hotel - Best vowed his side would not shy away from facing the record-breaking All Blacks.
“There’s been some fantastic rugby teams and some fantastic All Blacks teams,” said Best, with Ireland still seeking their first-ever victory over New Zealand.
“Obviously statistically when you look at what they’ve achieved over the last 12 months and the Rugby Championship, they looked very, very strong.
“It’s kind of hard comparing teams over generations but there’s no doubt that this AB team is an extremely talented team that knows how to play rugby but also how to win games.
“You look at the scorelines over the Rugby Championship, it sums up just how good they are.
“I’ve heard Sean Fitzpatrick comparing them, he would be someone who would know a lot more about the All Black teams of old.
“And if he’s saying they’re the best team that’s ever been then they’ve got to be very close to it.
“We’ve got to respect them but we can’t go out and fear them. We’ve got to go out and have our gameplan, stick to it rigidly and ultimately beat the All Blacks.
“From what I’ve seen you’ve got to minimise how many unforced errors you have. They are going to create chances but you can’t gift them chances on top of that.”
Ireland skipper Best will win his 98th cap tonight and can pass 100 Test bows this autumn. The 34-year-old will pack down alongside Leinster’s fast-improving tighthead Tadhg Furlong at Soldier Field.
Furlong will win just his ninth cap as Ireland continue to plan for life beyond stalwart tighthead Mike Ross.
And Best backed the 23-year-old Furlong to cope with the pressure of facing New Zealand’s formidable front-row and scrummaging power.
“Tadhg has been going really well, we saw in SA that he really is developing into a great rugby player,” said Best.