O'Driscoll plots first All Blacks win - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

O'Driscoll plots first All Blacks win

10/06/2010 11:43:11 AM Comments (0)

Captain Brian O'Driscoll may have his last chance to lead Ireland to a win over New Zealand when the teams meet in a one-off Test on Saturday.

O'Driscoll, at 31 and after 107 Test matches, is nearing the end of his career and has faced the All Blacks eight times without being able to end Ireland's winless record which stretches over 22 tests and 105 years.

He hopes Saturday's match at New Plymouth, against an All Blacks team seriously weakened by the loss of key players, might offer the best of a dwindling number of chances to alter his personal and Ireland's national record.

"It hasn't happened to date but it's going to happen some time before the world implodes. Let's hope it happens sooner rather than later," O'Driscoll said.

"It's been said recently the next time you play the All Blacks is the best time to beat them, and Saturday just happens to be the next time."

New Zealand and Ireland are due to meet again in Ireland in November and could meet at next year's World Cup in New Zealand, which might be O'Driscoll's international swan song.

"You test yourself as a rugby player coming to the toughest places and playing against the best teams," he said.

"It's difficult to go to a more difficult place than New Zealand and playing the All Blacks.

"I thoroughly look forward to the challenge of both."

O'Driscoll said Ireland had learned from past defeats that it had to match New Zealand's ability to close out close games.

"You have to finish strong," he said. "That's what we've struggled to do. Any time we've pushed them somewhat close, they probably won that last 20 minutes.

"There no point trying to hang in there with them. We've got to try to go after it, get ourselves in front and continue playing rugby."

New Zealand has been hard-hit by injuries in the lead up to the match, losing players such as winger Sitiveni Sivivatu, fullback Mils Muliaina, lock Ali Williams and hooker Andrew Hore. In their absence it has been forced to name five uncapped players, while none of Ireland's strong starting XV lack test experience.

New Zealand co-coach Steve Hansen said despite its injury toll, New Zealand was "in better shape" than last June when it shared a two-test series with France and narrowly beat Italy.

"The big difference this year is we have Richie McCaw and Dan Carter, we have the experienced people through the spine of our team," Hansen said.

"Last year the injuries were to a lot of those people, a lot of our leaders."

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