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McCaw to break caps record at 'special' ground

McCaw to break caps record at 'special' ground

New Zealand's match against Ireland at Lansdowne Road on Saturday will hold special significance for record-breaking captain Richie McCaw as the All Blacks look to stay on course for a third Grand Slam of the home unions in five years.
McCaw made his international debut in Dublin in 2001 and returns nine years on to break his team's appearance record of 92 caps held for more than a decade by former captain Sean Fitzpatrick.
McCaw will be joined by fullback Mils Muliaina in surpassing Fitzpatrick's haul of caps at the newly rebuilt stadium.
"I have a special memory of Lansdowne Road, nine years ago playing there. It's nice to come back and still be trucking in the team _ that's the nice part," McCaw said.
"It's pretty special to be back here. It's a pretty awesome stadium now."
The All Blacks have never lost against Ireland in 23 matches, the last of which was a 66-28 thrashing in New Plymouth in June.
Since then, New Zealand has gone on to win the Tri-Nations in emphatic style and establish itself as the world's No. 1 side just 10 months before the World Cup on home soil.
Graham Henry's team opened its tour of Europe with a 26-16 victory over England before turning on the style against Scotland, cantering to a 49-3 win at Murrayfield.
With Ireland losing 23-21 to injury-plagued South Africa a fortnight ago and stuttering to an unconvincing 20-10 win over Samoa last weekend, no-one is giving the hosts much chance on Saturday.
"The intensity of training has stepped up a notch and we know that if we want to compete against these boys, we need to be at the top of our game for 80 minutes and that's what we've been working on," Ireland winger Tommy Bowe said. "New Zealand like to play at a certain intensity and it's up to us to match that and go up a level.
"There is a definite confidence that we have the ability to beat them. Their record against us is why we're serious underdogs for this match once again and we know every player has to put everything on the line."
Henry has made six changes to the side that overwhelmed Scotland last Saturday, one of which sees Ma'a Nonu recalled at the expense of rugby league convert Sonny Bill Williams at inside center.
Lock Anthony Boric was promoted from the replacements to take the place of Brad Thorn, who was set to win his 50th cap before he pulled out on Thursday with a hamstring injury, alongside another returnee in the second row, Tom Donnelly.
The other players called up were winger Cory Jane, scrumhalf Andy Ellis and flanker Jerome Kaino.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney made 11 changes to the team and reverted almost entirely to the side that was narrowly beaten by the Springboks. The only difference to that lineup sees Tom Court take over at prop in place of Tony Buckley, who has an injured hip.
McCaw does not believe it will be the kind of walkover many are expecting.
"If we don't turn up and play properly anything can happen," he said on Friday.
"I know Ireland will be better for having those two performances against South Africa and Samoa. We realise if we allow them to play rugby, they have ability. When they get good front-foot ball, they've got the players that can put teams under pressure."
If New Zealand wins this weekend, it will be within one victory _ over Wales in Cardiff next Saturday _ of emulating its 2005 and '08 feats of beating all of the British Isles sides in one end-of-year tour.
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Lineups:
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll (captain), Gordon D'Arcy, Luke Fitzgerald, Jonathan Sexton, Eoin Reddan; Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tom Court, Donncha O'Callaghan, Mick O'Driscoll, Stephen Ferris, David Wallace, Jamie Heaslip. Replacements: Sean Cronin, John Hayes, Devin Toner, Denis Leamy, Paul Stringer, Ronan O'Gara, Keith Earls.
New Zealand: Mils Muliaina, Cory Jane, Conrad Smith, Ma'a Nonu, Hosea Gear, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis, Kieran Read, Richie McCaw (captain), Jerome Kaino, Tom Donnelly, Anthony Boric, Owen Franks, Hikawera Elliot, Tony Woodcock. Replacements: Andrew Hore, John Afoa, Sam Whitelock, Liam Messam, Alby Mathewson, Stephen Donald, Sonny Bill Williams.


Updated : 2021-10-28 10:29 GMT+08:00