Rugby: 'Simply outstanding' Irish side provides the ultimate test for All Blacks - Ryan Crotty

A 'simply outstanding' Irish rugby side awaits the All Blacks in Dublin on Sunday morning (NZT) and the world champions will need to be at their best to repel them.

That's the assertion of midfield back Ryan Crotty who is likely to be lining up in the number 12 jersey for Steve Hansen's side.

With only one win in 30 tests, New Zealand has held a distinct advantage over Ireland since the two nations met for the first time in 1905.

But since a 60-0 All Blacks hiding in Hamilton in 2012 the aggregate score across three tests is 74-71 in New Zealand's favour.

Ireland were within a stoppage in play of ending their drought in 2013 at Aviva Stadium before Crotty crossed the line to level the scores.

An Aaron Cruden sideline conversion broke Irish hearts sealing a 24-22 win for his side.

Chicago proved to be a site where history was made in 2016 when a passionate, borderline obsessed Irish side bulldozed the All Blacks 40-29 at Soldier Field, but there was a measure of revenge a few weeks later when New Zealand triumphed 21-9 in a ferocious test match back in Dublin.

And Aviva Stadium will play host again on Sunday as the Irish play an All Black side some in the European press have labelled vulnerable.

Crotty told media on Tuesday that he expects another epic battle as the two heavyweights of international rugby meet again.

"They are simply just an outstanding rugby side," Crotty noted.

"I don't think we have ever not seen them in that light as they have always been a top tier nation since I started playing.

"We have a lot of respect for them, they are coached very well and they are one of the best teams in the world.

"How can you not be excited about an opportunity to play this test.

"It's the two best teams in the world going at it over here with an awesome atmosphere in an awesome stadium in front of great fans.

"There is no need to dip into the past to find the desire to play well - this is a special opportunity for anyone lucky enough to be selected."

All Blacks midfield back Ryan Crotty.
All Blacks midfield back Ryan Crotty. Photo credit: Getty

And it's the atmosphere that European rugby venues provide that adds to the spectacle.

Crotty admitted he got lost in the moment for a fleeting second against England at Twickenham last week with the home fans belting out 'God Save the Queen' before the match and 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' anytime England needed a lift.

The 30-year-old expects more of the same from an impassioned Irish fan base.

"The atmosphere at all these northern hemisphere stadiums is just unreal," Crotty said.

"At the weekend we saw how special it is to play at Twickenham with all the crowd songs and Ireland is just the same with their cool anthem and knowledgeable fans so it will be cool to be a part of.

"These are the games you want to play – the big, tough tests and this Saturday night (local time) will be another special moment."

Standing opposite Crotty when the two side clash could very well be a familiar face.

Irish centre Bundee Aki spent his early days as rugby professional in New Zealand with Counties Manukau and the Chiefs.

Believing an All Black dream may never come to fruition, Aki moved to Ireland in 2014 with an opportunity to play international rugby once he completed a three-year residency requirement.

In 2017 Aki made his debut for Ireland and is considered a near automatic selection after a stellar Six Nations campaign.

Crotty is stoked the former Super Rugby star has made a name for himself as an international midfielder.

"It's awesome to see him performing so well over here," Crotty said.

"I played a lot against him when it was the Crusaders vs the Chiefs and he was a great player back then.

"He's come on in leaps and bounds since he has been over here. It's cool to see him getting plenty of opportunities and it will be a great challenge on Saturday."

Former Chiefs back Bundee Aki.
Former Chiefs back Bundee Aki. Photo credit: Getty

If Crotty is selected to play this weekend it will be full circle moment for the Crusaders stalwart.

The Nelson native's first test try was that match-winning effort in 2013- a moment that completed a perfect end to a wonderful year of All Black rugby.

"It was a special year 2013 – it was great we went undefeated that year so that result was very special for the boys."

If Crotty can help the All Blacks win again this weekend, it will provide another special memory as the world champions cement their standing as the team to beat heading into the 2019 Rugby World Cup.


Join us at 7:30am Sunday for live updates of the All Blacks vs Ireland at Dublin.