Expect a major step up in intensity from the All Blacks tonight at Waikato Stadium.
Anything less is likely to bring about the first win against them by Ireland in 107 years of test rugby between them. Dead rubber notwithstanding, Richie McCaw's mob do not want to be the ones to create such a piece of notoriety.
With six changes to the second-test lineup, including two vital changes forced by injury to talismanic players Dan Carter and Kieran Read, there is no doubt the All Blacks are vulnerable.
McCaw, who tonight moves to No8 in Read's absence to open the way for rising young Chiefs star Sam Cane on the openside flank, said everyone in the team had led the way for an extra edge to their preparation this week and it will certainly be needed.
After the 42-10 runaway in Auckland two weeks ago there is no doubt complacency crept into the All Blacks' subconscious in Christchurch last weekend.
There is little between the top teams in world rugby and, just as in Super Rugby, teams need to be only slightly off to open the way for their opponents, regardless of form.
This test is a great opportunity for three Chiefs players, in their first test starts this season, to make their mark and they will certainly have to if New Zealand are to reassert some level of dominance over the Irish – loose forwards Liam Messam and Sam Cane and first-five Aaron Cruden.
The physicality of the Irish pack and the accuracy of their overall game was a huge factor in the cold, slippery conditions in Christchurch last week and with rain again expected tonight the set-piece battle will be crucial.
The scrum became a problem for the All Blacks in the second test and coach Steve Hansen is adamant it was down to the disappearance of their second push after the initial hit. You only had to see the loose forwards with their heads up looking around to know they had disengaged from the contest, and Ireland took full advantage.
The All Blacks need to regain an edge in the forward contest, and behind a tight five that need to up the ante, the new-look loose forward trio of McCaw, Cane and Messam have to muscle Sean O'Brien and Co out of the breakdown contest.
McCaw said yesterday his 40 minutes at No8 last week after Read went off would serve him well this week and it was up to him to pull the new trio together.
The fact the series is already won 2-0 is irrelevant, according to McCaw, with the onus now on the All Blacks to lift their performance and finish on a high note.
Out in the backs much weight now falls on Cruden's shoulders, the young pivot taking over from the injured Carter, but he will not be able to release his Chiefs partner-in-crime Sonny Bill Williams outside him to run hard at the Irish defensive line or the dangerous attackers out wider unless the forwards have put them on the front foot first.
Otherwise they will again be sitting ducks for Ireland's rushing defence.
Put the Irish on the back foot and that rush defence will be more easily circumvented, could even be embarrassed.
The weight of All Blacks history will force the home team to rise to the challenge, and that could be the making of one or two players who are well used to running out to home crowd support at Waikato Stadium. email@example.com
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