'Underdogs' New Zealand seek revenge against Irish in rugby clash

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'Underdogs' New Zealand seek revenge against Irish

Dublin (AFP) - World champions New Zealand will bid on Saturday to teach Ireland a lesson and prevent them from becoming the first team since South Africa in 2009 to beat them twice in a row.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen -- who has, somewhat fancifully in many peoples eyes, tagged them as the underdogs -- is expecting a much more composed performance than the one they produced in Chicago when the Irish recorded a historic first win in 29 Test meetings stretching over 111 years.

Hansen has been able to recall experienced locks Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, who should prove a more competitive unit both in the lineout and the scrum than the duo of Jerome Kaino and Patrick Tuipulotu, who started in Chicago.

"Yes, we are the underdog," said Hansen.

"Just go back to Chicago, it was 40-29 and they (Ireland) won easy.

"Strange or whatever, that is a fact and you can't argue with facts. They are what they are."

As an added motivation the sad anniversary of the death of All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu aged just 40 -- he died after years battling kidney disease -- fell on the eve of the match.

All Blacks captain Kieran Read said the giant wing had been the reason for him taking up the sport and he would always recall his smile and the good works he did off the pitch.

"With regards to the match on Saturday his memory will serve as extra-motivation as indeed will the earthquake last weekend also be a factor and has been in the players thoughts," said the 31-year-old two-time World Cup winner.

Up until the Irish defeat Hansen had guided the All Blacks to a world record 18 successive Test victories. He said that his players were aware of the mistakes that had cost them in Chicago and are looking to put those right.

"We know we didn't play very well and we know we have to vastly improve because they are a very good side," said the 57-year-old.

"If everyone performs their core roles such as lineouts, defence and kicking that should fix our performance and take it to another level.

"Certainly we must improve our discipline as we conceded 12 penalties in Chicago that allowed them to kick for position and put us on the back foot the whole time.

"You expect a couple of penalties but 12, that is really an off day."

- 'Reference point' -

Hansen's Ireland counterpart and fellow Kiwi Joe Schmidt dismissed any talk that his side were the favourites.

"I don't think so. I know Steve pretty well," said Schmidt, dismissing Hansen's comments as mind games.

"Based on a recent result he's put his summation on that. I don't think he believes we'll pay too much heed to that, because we know the quality they are.

"Part of that quality is their coaching team. I learned a lot off some of the people who are involved there.

"I think they are still in a really strong position.

"We just want to try to focus on our own performance, try to use Chicago as a reference point," added the 51-year-old.

Irish skipper Rory Best says that the underdog tag is for the media but he knows he and the team will have to play even better than a fortnight ago.

"For us, we know that it is going to take a performance better than we delivered in Chicago and up there with some of the best performances that we have ever delivered in an Ireland shirt," said the 34-year-old hooker, who will win his 99th cap.

"That?s the reality of playing the best team in the world and back to back world champions."

Hansen for his part made clear he did not wish to revisit how he felt after the two defeats to South Africa when he was assistant coach.

"How would you feel? You would certainly not be laughing about it," he said.