No, we haven't turned all simian like kindred blogger Lee C at Monkey With Typewriter. Rather, we are referring to the 105-year-old monkey on the back of the Irish rugby team. That's right; the rivalry between New Zealand and Ireland dates back to The Originals' 1905 tour, and only one team has ever won matches between the old rivals - the All Blacks.
The Irish have come close to an upset on many occasions, but they've never managed to nail home the killer blow, and the longer the drought goes on, the tougher it will be for the men from the Emerald Isle. And we have to say; we don't think that the Irish will win tonight; not unless Wayne Barnes has another one of "those" performances!
The conditions tonight are not forecast to be particularly flash, and that could play into the All Blacks' hands. Ireland comes here with a number of losses through injury, and their tight five is particularly affected. It is there that test matches are won and lost. We reckon that the All Blacks will have a decided advantage in the loose, and the McCaw/Kaino/Reid combination looks to be our best loose trio for several seasons.
In the backs, much will depend on the respective first-fives, Dan Carter and Ronan O'Gara. O'Gara has toured New Zealand a number of times, but has looked to be a shadow of the player he is in home conditions. On the other hand, Dan Carter has had a most un-Dan Carter-like Super 14, but we know that he is a big match player, and when he is in form, he is far and away the best #10 in international rugby. And if he can get the ball wide, and conditions permit, there is pace and skill to burn at the back.
We'll stick our collective neck out, and predict a comfortable win to the All Blacks. We r5eckon that the Irish will still be piggybacking the monkey when the final whistle blows at Yarrow Stadium tonight.
And to get us all in the mood, here's one of the most memorable moments in that 105 year rivalry; Lansdowne Road, 1989 ...