Ireland v New Zealand: Brian O’Driscoll will get no sentimental adieu from All Blacks

New Zealand within 80 minutes of finishing 2013 in the unbeaten

First, the good news: Jonathan Sexton, Rob Kearney and a third Lions Test back by the name of O’Driscoll passed fitness examinations yesterday and will be present and correct when Ireland take the field for the last of their autumn internationals in Dublin tomorrow.

The bad news is the home side will be facing the All Blacks, who are within 80 minutes of finishing 2013 in the unbeaten state in which they started it.

As this will be Brian O’Driscoll’s last shot at international glory against New Zealand, there will be a strong emotional charge running through the occasion. But the great centre’s midfield partnership with Gordon D’Arcy, and his wider links with the outside-half Sexton and full-back Kearney, will have to be at their most productive if the home side are to stand an earthly.

Ireland have never beaten the silver-ferned brigade, and with the visitors pumped up for one final stand before a long off-season, there is no mistaking the identity of the bookmakers’ favourites.

O’Driscoll will draw level with Ronan O’Gara as Ireland’s most decorated player tomorrow – he will win his 128th cap, with four months of his Test career remaining – but these All Blacks are unlikely to give way to sentiment. “I do believe that in a two-horse race there are no certainties,” said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, “but I think it will take an exceptional performance to beat so resilient a side.”

All Blacks’ 2013 run

June France (h) W 23-13

June France (h) W 30-0

June France (h) W 24-9

Aug Australia (a) W 47-29

Aug Australia (h) W 27-16

Sept Argentina (h) W 28-13

Sept S Africa (h) W 29-15

Sept Argentina (a) W 33-15

Oct S Africa (a) W 38-27

Oct Australia (h) W 41-33

Nov Japan (a) W 54-6

Nov France (a) W 26-19

Nov England (a) W 30-22

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones