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Thursday 14 December 2017

Recalled McLaughlin pumped up for 'ultimate challenge'

THE Irish must know how it feels to be outclassed in a World Heavyweight title fight. They will take their standards, self-respect and bloody-minded pride into what is rightly seen as an overmatched bout with the best of the best at Christchurch.

To meet this challenge, coach Declan Kidney has summoned a quartet of new faces in the shape of Leinster's Mike Ross, Kevin McLaughlin and Gordon D'Arcy as well as Ulster's Andrew Trimble.

McLaughlin has thanked Kidney for "a huge show of faith" as he is recalled for what is just his fourth international cap for the deposed Peter O'Mahony.

"He obviously feels I've been playing well with Leinster and given me a chance to prove I can do it in green. I know it's going to be a massive step-up in intensity and in the quality of players I'm playing against," he said.



Ultimate

"This is going to be the ultimate test. Last week was a massive kick up the a**e and a massive wake-up call for us.

"You can't play at the level we played at last week and stay in touch; you can't make the mistakes we made in defence, be so lax in our lineout defence -- basic kind of things. You've got to ramp everything up a level."

It is the alteration in attention to detail in cutting out unforced and even forced mistakes that will keep Ireland within reach of their goals.

Turnover ball is a deadly weapon in the hands of the world champions.

The All Blacks should, in theory, be better for the experience of their first test of the season and that will take some doing given how they carved open Ireland at will in Auckland.

In practice, coach Steven Hansen will not expect any less than what they produced last Saturday for what is New Zealand's first post-earthquake international in Christchurch.

He has made one change, bringing in Adam Thomson for the injured Victor Vito on the blindside of his back row.







preparation

"Once again for us it's about our preparation, getting clarity early in the week and building in intensity so we can have a performance we can all be proud of on Saturday," said Hansen.

"We (the coaches) are expecting further improvements in our game due to the extra training and preparation time we have had together, along with having a game under our belt.

"We are also expecting Ireland to improve, as they are a nation with a 'never-say-die' attitude," added the coach of a country Ireland has never beaten.

This is not likely to change any time soon.

NEW ZEALAND: I Dagg; Z Guildford, C Smith, SB Williams, J Savea; D Carter, A Smith; T Woodcock, A Hore, O Franks, B Retallick, S Whitelock, A Thomson, , R McCaw (capt), K Read.

IRELAND: R Kearney: F McFadden, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D Tuohy, D Ryan, K McLaughlin, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.

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