Battle between top two no. 10s looms in Dublin

By Jamie Wall

This weekend's test between the All Blacks and Ireland won't just be pitting the two best teams against each other.

Beauden Barrett will go head to head with Johnny Sexton in an intriguing match-up between two players both nominated for World Rugby Player of the Year.

At the All Blacks' hotel in Blanchardstown, just outside of Dublin, All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster touched on the clash for the assembled NZ and Irish media.

"It's always been a good battle between the two of them. A lot of the Irish players go through Johnny, so you can see he's very instrumental in their team tactically."

Barrett was full of praise for his opposite, who gained a lot of respect on last year's British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

"He's a great player, very skillful. We're both lucky to be on the back of two great packs and two great 9s. Johnny, he's not afraid of pulling the trigger, he can execute some pretty good plays."

However, Sexton will be without fellow star Irish players Robbie Henshaw and Conor Murray, who were ruled out with injury this week. This is the main cause of concern for Irish hopes, as they do not quite possess the depth of talent that the All Blacks can call on.

Ireland will very much be pinning their hopes on a similar game plan to the one that famously prevailed over the All Blacks in Chicago two years ago. The 40-29 win certainly hasn't been forgotten by the All Blacks.

"When you lose in an All Blacks jersey it's never nice." Barrett said. That's an ominous sign for the Irish, as the All Blacks went on to win the last test the nations have played in a very physical encounter here in Dublin.