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Irish great relishes double date with NZ

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/10/2016 By Nick Purewal

Paul O'Connell insists it is "brilliant scheduling" that Ireland must face the record-breaking All Blacks twice in three weeks.

Former captain O'Connell hailed Ireland bosses for arranging the punishing November schedule, adamant that facing the best on a regular basis is the only route to the top of Test rugby's tree.

Joe Schmidt's side will meet all-conquering New Zealand in Chicago on November 5 before hosting the double world champions in Dublin just two weeks later.

The All Blacks will gun for a 19th consecutive Test victory in the United States to extend their record winning sequence for a top-tier nation.

"I think it's brilliant scheduling that Ireland will play the All Blacks twice this autumn," O'Connell told Press Association Sport.

"Clive Woodward was a big banker of his success with England on the fact that he chased down as many matches with southern hemisphere teams as he could.

"That England team repeatedly played the best in the world in autumn series, and it paid off with the World Cup for them in 2003."

The now-retired O'Connell was on the field when Ireland squandered their best-ever chance for victory over New Zealand in Dublin in 2013.

Ireland were less than a minute from a historic victory when Ryan Crotty's try conjured New Zealand's remarkable 24-22 win.

Despite all the odds falling New Zealand's way O'Connell still believes Ireland could conjure victory in Chicago - but only with the performance of their lives.

"Any team tactically that's coached by Joe Schmidt will have a very good plan and it will be up to the players to execute that," he said.

"We could play the perfect game, play to the best of our ability and we could still lose.

"So we just need to make sure we go after that. If we do that we'll have a chance."

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