Kiwi wrap (Fri)

Keo.co.za brings you the latest news from New Zealand’s year-end tour.

Smith: No walk in the Croke Park

All Blacks assistant coach Wayne Smith believes despite New Zealand’s record against Ireland, victory is by no means guaranteed.

Smith believes that the All Blacks’ record of 20 wins and one draw against Ireland has created unrealistic expectations for Saturday’s clash at Croke Park.

“There are only 22 guys who go out and do it. It’s always easy to say things and to talk about things and throw barbs if you are not playing. These are the boys who have to go out and play. They know how difficult that is going to be,” Smith said.

“Expectations are always high and rightly so. But you can’t just go out and beat these teams. You have to go out and have a really, really good day.

“I would say Ireland will have a great day on Saturday. So we have to at least match that and then we will see what happens.

“You have to be realistic about what it’s going to be like … Croke Park, 80,000 people there … it will be as big an occasion and as passionate probably as these players have ever come across.”

Irish can’t forget BOD tackle

Keven Mealamu’s role in the infamous injury to Brian O’ Driscoll during the first Test of the Lions’ 2005 tour of New Zealand remains a hot topic in Ireland.

While Tana Umaga bore the brunt of the criticism from the British press at the time, the Irish media have highlighted Mealamu’s role in the incident ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Teammate Ali Williams has been winding the hooker up since the side arrived in Ireland, claiming he should watch his back.

“We’ll just have to see how it goes but the people here are pretty nice,” said Mealamu when a reporter asked if he’d had an opportunity to test his popularity with the locals.

“It happened a lifetime ago,” he said with his customary smile, “but I suppose it’s one of those things you’ll never live down.”

More to follow …