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Monday 5 December 2016

All Black Kaino: It is very similar to a play-off match in the World Cup

New Zealand forward Jerome Kaino
New Zealand forward Jerome Kaino

Jerome Kaino was caught between the rock he always is at blindside and the hard place the second row became for him in Chicago.

No matter the brilliance of the foremost No 6 in world rugby, the transition from the back to middle row in international rugby would test the instincts of anyone.

"I didn't really mind slotting into the second row," he said.

"It was just a matter of executing my role there and I probably just needed to focus on basics instead of other things I needed to do."

New Zealand knew they could be in trouble when their supreme lock pairing of Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock was withdrawn with injury and ththe nex man up Luke Romano flew home for a family bereavement.

Even seasoned men like Kaino can fall into the trap of doing just more than his own job.

"I tried to be Brodie Retallick and do what he did," he admitted.

"He dominates in those areas by just doing the basics well and first things first.

"Maybe, I overlooked that and tried to think too much," he said.

There were no fingers turned in the direction of Kaino, post-match, as New Zealand showed even they are not immune to losing certain men.

Their resources are not infinite.

"I hate to say, but we don't want to lose to be able to learn from it and bounce back from it and get an edge.

"We always try and create that edge week-in, week-out in this environment.

"That loss in Chicago has added spice to that edge we've got for this weekend.

"There is a nervous edge to the team given what happened in Chicago.

"It is very similar to what we would get in a play-off game in the World Cup. "

This is the sort of statement that can a shiver down the collective spine of those without one.

Ireland will be tested to the full extent physically, mentally, intellectually.

It is not stretching the truth to suggest they are looking for what Ireland had twelve days ago.

"They were menacing, very strong with ball in hand and direct," said Kaino.

"We've got to take control of the physical battle, our execution and just play our game."

He will be relieved to see Retallick return to the black shirt in Rome.

Their modern-day gladiator is the fulcrum of their forward pack.

"It's been talked up to be a big game," said Retallick.

"It's going to be a big game for us after Chicago, coming to play in Dublin is always huge.

"We probably let ourselves down and we want to come here and rectify that, take control of the physical battle and our execution and just play our game."

That is nearly always enough.

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