New Zealand's Ryan Crotty hoping to break Ireland hearts once more
Ryan Crotty hopes to break Irish hearts all over again when New Zealand take on Joe Schmidt's side in Chicago this weekend.
The versatile All Black admitted he has spent the last three years apologising to all of Ireland for the overtime try that denied head coach Schmidt's men a maiden victory over New Zealand in November 2013.
Ireland led 22-17 in the last minute at Dublin's Aviva Stadium, only for the All Blacks to win possession and crank through the phases as Crotty scored in the corner.
Aaron Cruden slotted his touchline conversion at the second attempt to steal a 24-22 victory that left Ireland pondering quite what it takes to topple the mighty All Blacks.
"I've pretty much had to apologise to every Irishman I've met since that day," said Crotty.
"It was a special moment for me and our team. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to score another try on Saturday.
"For me it was a very special moment. I was just happy to let the All Blacks be successful."
Ireland face New Zealand twice in three weeks across a hectic autumn schedule, facing coach Steve Hansen's side first of all at Chicago's Soldier Field on Saturday.
The Irish will fight to stop New Zealand extending their record winning streak to 19 Tests this weekend, before hosting the All Blacks in Dublin on November 19.
Crotty has thrived at inside centre for the All Blacks this year, forging a formidable partnership with the outstanding fly-half Beauden Barrett.
The 28-year-old could find himself head-to-head with an old Canterbury Crusaders colleague in Saturday's Soldier Field showdown though, and expects a tough examination if he lines up against Ireland's Jared Payne.
Crotty jokingly remembers Payne as a "smart ass" at the Crusaders, always bossing the centres around from full-back.
New Zealand Under-21s graduate Payne swapped his homeland for Ulster in 2011 and has since won 16 caps for Ireland.
"I played with Payno back at the Crusaders; crikey, that's going back eight or nine years," said Crotty, of Ireland's utility back Payne.
"It'd be cool to catch up with him. He's been in contact, so we might get a chance to meet up before the weekend.
"It'd be awesome to lock horns. It's always a good battle going up against your opposite number, so hopefully I'll get a chance to play against him.
"He was a real smart ass back in the day. He played full-back, so he was always chipping at the midfielders telling us to pass it.
"I'm very blessed to get the opportunity to get my chance in the midfield this year.
"I'm happy I've been able to make the most of it this year.
"There's four more big games this year. If I can play well in those four games I'll be pretty proud of the effort I put into the black jersey this year."