KEVEN MEALAMU was a standout performer in the All Blacks RWC 2011 success, turning out in six matches in the Tournament and captaining the side against Japan.
His 2012 Investec Super Rugby season has been disrupted by injury and he will be raring to go against the Irish if he gets the chance.
Keven has been wearing the black jersey since 1995, when he turned out for New Zealand Under 16. Despite the long career his passion for rugby and the respect with which he is regarded by teammates and opponents remains undimmed.
Mealamu took on a new leadership role in 2006, captaining the Blues through a challenging Rebel Sport Super 14 campaign. During 2005, the livewire hooker delivered several stand-out performances for the All Blacks, including a match-winning try against South Africa at Dunedin and the clincher against England at Twickenham in November.
An accurate lineout thrower and strong scrummager, Mealamu is equally comfortable in the running game, where his skills and background make him almost a fourth loose forward.
Mealamu scored three tries in his first seven games for the Blues in the 2007 Rebel Sport Super 14 after scoring four in 70 previous matches.
In 2008 Mealamu again featured heavily in the All Blacks, featuring in every test match, competing with Hurricanes hooker Andrew Hore over this time, and often coming off the bench as the ultimate impact forward.
That same year Mealamu captained the All Blacks against Scotland in their Grand Slam tour, becoming the first hooker since Sean Fitzpatrick to lead the national side in a test match.
In 2009 and 2010 Mealamu remained a pivotal player for the Blues and All Blacks captaining the Blues in Super Rugby and also achieving the notable milestone of 100 Super rugby caps.
The 2011 Investec Super Rugby season saw Mealamu feature in every Blues match (18 games) and cement his position as one of the world's leading rakes.
23/11/2002 Wales at Cardiff
|Test Points Breakdown:||
1999 v North Harbour
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|Super Rugby Debut:||
2000 v Brumbies
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• His three Test tries in 2005 more than doubled his All Blacks tally.
• Returned to the Auckland Air New Zealand NPC side late in 2005 but scored a try in each of the two matches he started: the semifinal win over North Harbour and the final win over Otago.
• Had played in every game for Auckland since his debut in 1999 until All Blacks selection intervened in 2003 and 2004.
• Played as a flanker for New Zealand Under 16 and New Zealand Schools before switching to hooker in 1998.
• His brother Luke played two Test matches as a flanker for Samoa in 2000.
• First played for the Blues in 2000, but had a stint with the Chiefs in 2002 - the same year he debuted for the All Blacks.