Autumn Nations Series

Ireland v New Zealand, Aviva Stadium, 3.15pm


Live blog on RTÉ Sport Online and the RTÉ News app from 2pm.


Live commentary on Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 with commentary from Michael Corcoran and David Humphreys, while Fiona Coghlan and Sean Cronin are on analysis.


Live coverage on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player from 2.15pm, highlights on Against the Head, RTÉ2, Monday 8pm.

Listen to the RTÉ Rugby podcast on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.

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Pragmatism or progression?

It's quite one thing to play as Ireland did in attack against an out-of-sorts Japan and then trying to replicate elements of that style against the mighty All Blacks.

As Eddie O'Sullivan said on Against The Head earlier this week, the flexible and inventive approach in the resounding win over Japan last Saturday was "Ireland like we've never seen them playing in a long time" - with the caveat of poor defence from the opposition - as Andy Farrell's side recognised where the space was and exploited it time and again.

New Zealand will be a completely different kettle of fish, needless to say and the primary priority will be safeguarding in defence from an Irish point of view.

But will the Irish side cast pragmatism aside when they have opportunities to attack?

"If we do it as accurately as we did last week, we'll definitely get gain lines," said Bernard Jackman in response to that on the RTÉ Rugby Podcast.

"We've just got to make sure we capitalise on that because New Zealand scramble incredibly well."

And he added that Farrell can now avail of personnel "better suited to that in terms of their athleticism, mobility and skill-set and it looks like the players have really understood what Farrell and Mike Catt want".

"So I think we can ask questions of New Zealand. They changed their defence this November. It's a more aggressive defence than they used in the Rugby Championship and it's probably not 100% bedded in yet."

But as Jackman concluded, "the problem will be stopping" the All Blacks in attack.

The All Blacks' calendar year

Saturday's match will be New Zealand's penultimate game of 2021 with France to come in Paris next weekend.

So far this year, they have played 13 tests, winning all but one, with that sole defeat coming against world champions South Africa by a two-point margin during the Rugby Championship in October.

During last week's not overly convincing display against Italy, Ian Foster's side still set a world record. They now hold the mark for most test points and tries scored in a calendar year with the figure now standing at 96 tries and 675 points before they take on Ireland.

Albeit a significant chunk of those points - a combined 206 to be precise - came in two fixtures against under-strength Tonga and USA sides in March and October respectively.

However, that being said, only twice in the 13-match run has any side kept them from scoring fewer than 30 points, with South Africa doing so in consecutive games including in that aforementioned victory.

Team News

On Friday, it emerged that the Ireland squad had been hit with a Covid scare, with "a potential positive case identified in one person via the latest PCR testing".

However after receiving the all clear Farrell is able to stick with the team that contains continuity from the Japan game as Iain Henderson marked the only change to the starting XV as he slots into the second row in place of Tadhg Beirne who joins a host of experienced campaigners on the bench including Conor Murray, Cian Healy, Peter O'Mahony and Keith Earls.

Ireland: Hugo Keenan; Andrew Conway, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, James Lowe; Johnny Sexton, Jamison Gibson-Park; Andrew Porter, Rónan Kelleher, Tadhg Furlong; Iain Henderson, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, Jack Conan

Replacements: Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Tadhg Beirne, Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray, Joey Carbery, Keith Earls.

New Zealand: Jordie Barrett, Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sevu Reece, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara, Ardie Savea, Dalton Papalii, Ethan Blackadder, Sam Whitelock (capt.), Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.

Replacements: Dane Coles, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Tyrel Lomax, Tupou Vaa'i, Akira Ioane, Finlay Christie, Richie Mo’unga, David Havili.

Follow Ireland v New Zealand via our liveblog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app, watch live on RTÉ2 and the RTÉ Player or listen to national radio commentary on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.