Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has dismissed any notion that the All Blacks will be vulnerable in Saturday’s third Test in Hamilton due to the absence of star out-half Dan Carter.
A hamstring injury has seen Carter, whose drop goal clinched a 22-19 victory in last week’s second Test in Christchurch, replaced by Aaron Cruden but O’Driscoll believes the world champions have the all-round strength to overcome the loss.
“They managed okay in the World Cup, didn’t they?” said O’Driscoll, referring to the fact that New Zealand claimed the William Webb Ellis trophy last year despite being without Carter for the later stages.
“Dan Carter is a world class player but Aaron Cruden is handy enough and he has shown it. The bits I’ve seen of the Super Rugby this season he has been pretty impressive. They have to look at life without Dan Carter and it gives Aaron a great opportunity. It is not all about the guy pulling strings at 10, you need smart players around you and I think New Zealand have that.”
Ireland coach Declan Kidney said fear has to spur the side on and they cannot assume they can trouble the All Blacks as readily as they managed to in Christchurch.
“Last week is over,” said Kidney at today’s team announcement in Queenstown. “New Zealand are well capable of doing to us what they did at Eden Park again. That fear needs to be within us, to know that it can happen unless we turn up, do our job, and do it to the best of our ability.
“We need to do that and add on that extra 10pc that we didn’t have last Saturday.”