AAP Rugby

Read admits NZ must shift gear for Ireland

By AAP Newswire

Kieran Read has challenged New Zealand to hit new heights in order to beat Ireland in Dublin.

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen has insisted Saturday's winner will earn the right to call themselves the best in the world, despite the fact the Kiwis will retain the No.1 spot in the global rankings whatever the result.

No.8 Read has now racked up 100 Test wins in his 116 caps, the fourth All Black to hit a century of international victories.

But the 33-year-old has demanded another step up from the world's top team this weekend.

"We're going to need our best performance of the season, I think, the way the Irish have been playing," the All Blacks captain said.

"So we've prepared as well as we can physically, the guys have prepared really well and are just looking forward to it.

"The Irish are undoubtedly the best side up here (in the northern hemisphere) at the moment, so to challenge ourselves in their conditions is an exciting one for us.

"We're in a good space mentally so it's about being ready physically to get the job done."

New Zealand battled past England 16-15 at Twickenham last weekend as Read grabbed that 100th Test victory.

The All Blacks have been at pains to explain the labours of their northern hemisphere tour that ends their season, whereas their European opponents are only just embarking on their own campaign.

Read believes New Zealand must not panic if Ireland dominate possession, hailing boss Joe Schmidt's men as the best around at hogging the ball.

"They are a very structured side, and in terms of how they hold onto the ball they are the best probably in terms of tier-one nations in the world," said Read.

"And also their ability to defend very strongly as well, so they are a good side.

"We've got to find our opportunities (to try to win the ball), we can't be too hungry to look for those opportunities, discipline's going to be crucial. And when we get those chances to get the ball back we do that."