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Keith Wood's got a very positive outlook for Ireland's chances against the All Blacks


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Over the next couple of weeks, Joe Schmidt's Ireland will be getting tuned up even further for what is the last year in the road towards the 2019 Rugby World Cup with clashes against an Argentina team tomorrow that ended the perennial Irish bid for a semi-final spot and the reigning world champions New Zealand the following week. 

With both those Guinness Series games on the horizon, former Ireland captain Keith Wood was joined by fellow former international in green Malcolm O'Kelly and Denis Leamy at a BMW 8 Series event to look back on their own eras and the build-up to the Pumas and All Blacks games.  

"The depth of squad is the big thing," said O'Kelly of the current Ireland team.

"Even though we might be missing one or two there who might not be 100%, you know that there is phenomenal depth. Even if guys get injured that you know you have guys to come in.

"I can't imagine the Irish team underestimating the Argentina team because Argentina, every match they play in that Rugby Championship, they put up a fight. They won two and could have won South Africa or Australia in the away fixture, and New Zealand, they put on a few tries against New Zealand. They're well able to play football and they don't give up. They will tackle and tackle and tackle. So I would expect a really tough encounter for Ireland. I'd probably expect [Ireland] to win but there's no guarantee." 

He also discussed the New Zealand game.

"It's a big ask to beat New Zealand. We've only done it once," he said.

"But the expectation is there."  

Meanwhile, Leamy acknowledged that Irish teams have historically "struggled against Argentina" but feels the level of Ireland performances and standards are now of a consistent level and "very, very impressive".  

"I do expect them to beat Argentina but they're going to have to go to war and probably beat them up a little bit," he added.

As for the All Blacks game, Leamy says: "That's the barometer. Where are we? It's going to be really, really interesting to see us against the best. Can we back up what we did in Chicago a couple of years ago? It would be massive to go and beat New Zealand again and then you could start to dream as to what could happen in the World Cup coming. I don't think we'll win personally. This New Zealand team are full of quality but we'll run them very, very close."  

But Keith was the most confident of all about Ireland's chances against the All Blacks.

"I actually think Ireland will beat New Zealand in 10 days," he said, also highlighting the attention to detail that's a key part of the Schmidt mantra.

"I think there's a huge amount set for it. I just think we're in the right frame of mind."

Keith Wood was in conversation with Malcolm O’Kelly and Denis Leamy at the Newstalk BMW 8 Series event.


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