All Blacks v Ireland: Sevu Reece talks special relationship with coach Ian Foster, out to cement starting spot

Sunday's All Blacks test against Ireland gives several players an opportunity to cement a starting spot in coach Ian Foster's side - with winger Sevu Reece ready to take that chance with both hands.

It's hard to know what Reece was more excited about, getting picked to start against Ireland - or the fact we provided him with evidence of what he alleges is Foster's constant harassment.

"That's good, start the story on that," Reece jokes.

Just hours earlier as training wrapped, his special 'father-son' relationship with Foster was on full display.

Nicknamed "Sevu Foster" by the team, the winger says his coach is always on his case about something.

"I told Foz, 'I've got media today,'  and he said, 'Ooh, you be careful, boy.'"

Minutes into the interview, Reece was threatening to "blackmail" Foster into starting him for the rest of the season.

"I'll be like Foz, the news, they've got some footage of you." 

All joking aside, Reece is more determined than ever to prove he deserves the jersey.

"When you get given the opportunity, that's your chance to make your mark and put your hand up and let the coaches know you haven't been sleeping this whole time, you've been putting in the hard work."

The winger is the sole survivor of last week's Italian job. Sam Cane is off for another week's rest, Richie Mo'unga's been bested by Beauden Barret at No. 10, and Ethan Blackadder is the top pick again at blindside flanker. 

"It's a very physical, close quarter game up here, and I think that suits him," Foster says of Blackadder.

"He's got a lot of energy, he plays the game, he's very uncompromising in what he does."

It's the midfield that's had the biggest makeover.  

Incumbent second five David Havili has been relegated to the bench to make way for a new midfield marriage between Anton Leinet Brown and Rieko Ioane, who continues to impress with fine form both at centre, and on the wing. 

"There's not too many players that can demand a starting position in two positions, and he's shown a great maturity in being able to handle that," says Foster of Ioane.

The All Blacks boast an impressive track record against Ireland, having only lost twice, but one of those was the last time they met here in Dublin back in 2018.

"These are the games that you really put a marker down and you get the answers as to where you're at in some aspects," Foster adds.

This will be the toughest test on the tour so far, and with sold out grandstands making their grand return, 50,000 fans are already ready and waiting.

"It's just surreal," one fan tells Newshub. "Got all the lads here, see them training, no words can describe it to be honest."

And the best is yet to come.