John Kirwan started a heated debate when he said that New Zealand are going into the upcoming three-Test series on home soil against Ireland as ‘underdogs’.
Appearing on ‘The Breakdown’ alongside Jeff Wilson, former All Blacks wing Kirwan said that recent history should make Ireland favourites to win the series, despite the fact that they have never won a Test in New Zealand.
Ireland have won three of their past five Tests against the All Blacks, including the most recent encounter between the two teams, a 29-20 win in Dublin last November.
“I think the two northern-hemisphere sides that have taken some southern hemisphere style and made it better and added their own style, I think France and Ireland are the two best European sides, I believe, on their day,” Kirwan said on the TV show.
“You were there, Goldie [ex-All Blacks star Jeff Wilson], you and I on the sidelines when they beat us over there and they were outstanding, and they’re outstanding in their attack patterns.
“I saw stuff out there that day that I’d never seen before. I think they probably go in, besides being away from home, they go in favourites.”
That prompted an angry response from Wilson, who strongly refuted Kirwan’s claims by referring to the All Blacks’ 28-year unbeaten streak at Eden Park.
“That is the most ridiculous comment, JK, to say they that are the favourites coming in,” Wilson responded.
“It’s a tour at the end of the year and you’re saying they’ll beat us. Are you trying to say the All Blacks are underdogs at home? Are you serious? At Eden Park? You have got to be kidding me.
“What was the most significant of those games? It was a quarter-final in a Rugby World Cup, and how much did we put on them? We put 50 on them.
“When it comes down to it, there’s no doubt they’re a threat. They’ve got some talent. Jonathan Sexton is world class. Jamieson Gibson-Park has become a quality halfback at the international level, and their forward pack, the development of the way their props play the game.
“We recognise all of the threats, there’s no doubt about it, but to say they’re the favourites against the All Blacks in New Zealand, Andy Farrell’s thinking to himself, ‘What’s JK on?’”
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