Johnny Sexton urges Ireland to be ready for New Zealand's 'intensity'

Johnny Sexton recently played his 100th Test for Ireland
Johnny Sexton recently played his 100th Test for Ireland

Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton has urged his side to be prepared for the physicality as they line up to face New Zealand in Dublin on Saturday.

The opening 28 games between these two sides was a total domination from the All Blacks as they emerged victorious 27 times with one ending in a draw.

However, the last four games between them saw both the teams register two wins apiece with Ireland registering victories in Chicago and Dublin in 2016 and 2018 respectively.

"I think it's the intensity that they bring to the game, the physicality. By intensity, I mean the speed they play at, and at the same time being physical," he said.

"We know what's coming because we've played against them so many times, but there's a few lads who haven't played against them that we have to let them know what it's like out there against them.

"All the focus is on making sure we can get our best performance out there at the weekend. We know what quality they possess, we know their coaches quite well, having been coached by Greg Feek and John Plumtree before.

"We know the strengths that they bring so, we've got to make sure we're in the best place possible come Saturday".

The two teams faced each other last during the quarter-final of the 2019 World Cup in Japan where the All Blacks registered a 46-14 win with Beauden Barrett scored a try and had 21 carries in the game. Both Barrett and Sexton recently completed their 100 Test milestone for their respective sides and the Irish skipper is looking forward to the rivalry.'

"He's an outstanding player," Sexton said.

"Whether he plays at 10 [first five-eighths] or 15 [fullback], he brings his strengths to the game. He's just a freak of a runner, and he has a lot of skills with it: a great kicking game and those kick passes that he can do, chipping it to himself or for others. He is a strong guy.

"He can go to the line well and he can pick a pass. He has it all really. He's one we'll have to look out for. Whether they go for him at 10 or what, I'm not sure at this stage. Whoever gets that, Beauden will be in the team somewhere so he is obviously a threat, one of their biggest threats".


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