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Memories of Jonah Lomu add to All Blacks' motiviation to beat Ireland in Dublin

Published 18/11/2016

Kieran Read hopes New Zealand can put the the loss to Ireland in Chicago behind them.
Kieran Read hopes New Zealand can put the the loss to Ireland in Chicago behind them.

New Zealand will aim to summon Jonah Lomu's smiling assassin spirit when seeking revenge over Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

Captain Kieran Read admitted the All Blacks have talked at length this week about former wing Lomu, who died a year ago on Friday, aged just 40.

The All Blacks will pay tribute to Lomu in Saturday's Aviva Stadium showdown, where New Zealand are aiming to atone for their first-ever loss to Ireland, the 40-29 defeat in Chicago on November 5.

Giant wing Lomu changed rugby forever with his bullocking running, winning 63 caps between 1994 and 2002, only to suffer serious kidney problems later.

"We've certainly spoken about it as a group," said Read when asked if New Zealand will pay tribute to Lomu this weekend.

"He's one of our legends in this All Blacks family, we certainly feel for his family at this time of the year.

"It's extra motivation for the group, so we'll be playing for him and his family."

"But the other thing is the earthquake, that's something else that's on a lot of the guy's minds."

Early on Monday, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake in New Zealand left two people dead, triggered a small tsunami and brought down rocks and mud that swept across highways.

Read continued: "So the best way we can honour all of that is to go out there and perform on the pitch."

He admitted suffering his first defeat as All Blacks captain against Ireland in Chicago has made for an "uncomfortable" two weeks since.

New Zealand have the chance to avenge that Soldier Field loss this weekend however, and Read insisted it is vital the All Blacks produce a performance worthy of the late Lomu.

Read revealed Lomu as the reason he started playing rugby himself, having watched from the terraces as a youngster as the potent winger carved up defences for Counties Manukau.

"To me he was a massive inspiration, he's the reason why I played footie," said Read.

"I grew up in the area where he was from and played his footie, and I went to watch him every weekend.

"It would have been down at Pukekohe Stadium, watching him for Counties, and he was just a legend for what he did on the pitch. But also his smile, and how he conducted himself off the pitch, that shone through too. He was a top man.

"It's something I guess we can perhaps use on an individual level.

"But the way we can do that is by preparing and playing to the highest standard. Every time he ran out he did that and that's what we'll try to do tomorrow.

"That defeat in Chicago makes guys uncomfortable, suffering the loss and how to deal with it.

"So you might look back on this as defining, the loss and how you respond to it.

"We've never had it easy coming to Ireland and the Aviva, and we certainly won't have it easy this weekend either."

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