Kiwi wrap (Wed)

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

Henry mindful of Croke Park factor

All Blacks coach Graham Henry has named an experienced side to counter the advantage Ireland will get from a capacity crowd at Croke Park on Saturday.

After fielding a number of fringe and inexperienced players against Scotland last weekend, Henry has called up the big guns for the Dublin clash.

“There’s a lot of experience [in the side]. There are well over 600 caps there and most of these guys have played together in the Tri-Nations,” said Henry.

“So there’s a lot of combinations there that have won trophies like the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri-Nations trophy in recent times and that’s a positive.”

The ground has been hallowed turf to Ireland. Previously restricted to uniquely Irish sports, it was only opened to rugby after 2005 when Lansdowne Road was demolished for redevelopment. Henry is sure that Ireland will look to feed off the atmosphere within the stadium.

“It’s very significant and the boys need to know about that,” Henry said of the ground’s special place in Irish hearts.

“There’s always an added advantage playing at home. I think there is going to be 82,000 people there, probably mostly Irish. That’s hugely significant for a home side.

“It’s in the top three stadiums in Europe for size. So it’s going to be massive. But it’s also going to be a marvellous experience as well and hopefully that will bring the best out of our guys.”

Joe and Siti reunited

All Blacks backline coach Wayne Smith is confident Joe Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu’s raw pace will have an impact on this weekend’s clash against Ireland.

The Fijian-born wing pairing will team up for the ninth time for New Zealand on Saturday and Smith was quick to defend the selection despite them both being predominantly left wings.

“They have had their moments together … they have had some good matches. I certainly wouldn’t want to be marking them,” said Smith.

“Siti has developed his game considerably with his coverage skills. I think he has done pretty well there. Joe is a really good chaser and he has a good workrate.

“I think they complement each other. They are both primarily left wingers but they are both good players … they have big hearts and they are quick.”

More to follow …