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Ireland assistant expects 'fantastic' Test

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Sportal.co.nz     04 Jun 2012     Getty Images

He said in Auckland on Monday that the All Blacks, whether world champions or not, had a proud record. They also had pride in their play at Eden Park where they had been so successful and so far as Ireland were concerned they were looking at, and concentrating on, being ready for Saturday's first Steinlager Test in Auckland.

He felt there was a chance the All Blacks might not have had as much time as usual to prepare for their first Test of the season and that would mean they would not have had the chance to make significant changes in style under new coach Steve Hansen.

However, there has been no difference for the All Blacks' preparations from earlier years and it was a constant refrain from former coach Graham Henry that they did not have enough time with the squad before the first Test.

Kiss said that from the look of the squad New Zealand had selected for the series, it was going to be a 'fantastic game'.

"We're playing the world champions aren't we? They're the best in the world bar none so we expect them to throw everything at us that they have.

"They've got a proud history at Eden Park and I'm pretty sure they want to go out there and not ruin that in any way so we're expecting a hugely physical encounter. After watching Super 15 [Rugby] and the way rugby is played here it's got to be an open affair too," he said.

The fact they were playing their first three-match series against the side was not daunting, rather it was seen as an opportunity.

Kiss recalled the World Cup round robin victory over Australia on Eden Park and rated it as
'an unbelievable night'.

"It came as no surprise to us when we played that match against the Wallabies and we're hopeful the Irish fans get out there again in special voice because it was a special occasion and from memory I think a lot of Kiwis said it was the greatest atmosphere they had ever had at the ground.

"We've got fond memories, but that's what it is a memory now and we just move on," he said.

While the Irish had done their research on the All Blacks side there were a couple of selections from left field and they obviously saw some potential among young players.

"Sam Cane, a young seven from the Chiefs is obviously doing some good things. Aaron Smith looks like a very likely character playing for the Highlanders and they've had a pretty good year. So it's a good balance of experience, pace, power – just what you'd expect from the All Blacks," he said.

Kiss was also looking forward to a prospective contest between Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll and in-form New Zealand midfielder Sonny Bill Williams.

"You're talking about one of the greatest in Brian coming against one of these guys who is an absolute beast on the field isn't he, Sonny Bill and he's doing fantastic things with the Chiefs this year. So if Sonny gets picked and Brian gets picked then we'll see how that goes."

He was also impressed with Julian Savea and felt he used his size very well and while he had high ball trouble in his career he had worked on that.

"If they select him that's a fairly large, quick backline they'll have there," he said.