Coles, All Blacks mindful of Chicago repeat

Dane Coles (Getty)
Dane Coles (Getty)

Cape Town - Hooker Dane Coles says the All Blacks will be doing everything in their power to avoid a repeat of their 2016 defeat to Ireland in Chicago.

On that day approximately two years ago, the All Blacks' 111-year undefeated stranglehold over Ireland was broken as Joe Schmidt's side claimed a 40-29 victory.

And Coles said that the All Blacks were still hurting from that defeat and wanted to put things right come Saturday at Aviva Stadium.

"I think we'd do anything in our power for that not to happen again because we were both involved in Chicago," the All Blacks hooker told New Zealand Herald, glancing at teammate Ryan Crotty.

"It wasn't a great feeling."

Three years prior to that, Coles and Crotty combined as the latter scored a match-winning try for a 24-22 win.

Crotty said he hadn't to do anything in the match-winning try he scored against Ireland in 2013, Coles had done all the work. But he did say he had had to apologise to every Irishman he had met ever since.

"It was nice to think we went undefeated that year (2013) so it was really special for the boys, but excited to be back. It's a great city to be in and an immensely tough opponent this weekend," Crotty said.

Coles said some history had developed between the sides in recent years and he was looking forward to enjoying the week.

The recent history had added to the rivalry between the sides but those things weren't going to help the teams on Saturday, Coles said.

They were both new teams with new players and both teams would be looking for the win and the All Blacks wouldn't be looking to the past for motivation because there was motivation enough for the game itself this week, he said.

"How can you not be excited if you've got this opportunity to play? You've got the best two teams in the world going at it, awesome atmosphere, awesome stadium, great fans. You don't need to go anywhere else, you don't need to dip into the past to find the desire to want to play and then play well, so it's a special opportunity for whoever gets to run out there on Saturday," Crotty said.

Coles said: "I think there's a bit more intensity and build-up to it now because if you look at it since 2013 they're a side that's been on the rise and they deserve all the credit they get. Our previous matches have been pretty close so they deserve all that respect so it's going to be a hummer this week," he said.

While they had added the skill factor to their game, the Irish were hard, direct men and very physical and the All Blacks had to go to their limit in preparation.

Crotty said Tests like that against Ireland were the ones that players wanted to participate in where the atmosphere was always great and he was sure Saturday's Test would be another special one.

He said he was gutted for Sonny Bill Williams who hadn't been able to string together a decent run without injuries. Behind the scenes he saw how hard Williams worked to come back from niggly injuries and he had been set back again with a shoulder injury against England.

"He's got a pretty mature outlook on things and he takes these things in his stride and he'll come back stronger," he said.

Ireland had good backs across the field and former New Zealand player Bundee Aki was playing well at second five-eighths. Crotty recalled playing against him when he was playing for the Chiefs when he was a great player and since coming to Ireland he had come in leaps and bounds.

"It's cool to see him getting his opportunity but they've got Robbie Henshaw there as well, who's an outstanding ball runner," he said.

Coles said seeing former Super Rugby teammates or opponents turning up in northern hemisphere sides had been weird.

He had found that when running into former Hurricanes flanker Brad Shields before the England game.

"I suppose when you've got a personal relationship it's quite difficult but when you're out there you need to do a job and you can put those relationships aside on the field, but we were happy to catch up after the game," he said.

That was special and was the nature of what was happening in rugby now. He and Shields had swapped their jerseys after the game and that had been special.

Coles said he was starting to feel he was getting more rhythm in his game and he was enjoying being back on the field.

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