Joe Schmidt’s side delivered one of rugby’s biggest shocks by winning 40-29 11 days ago to end the All Blacks’ 18-game winning run and become the first team since South Africa in 2004 to score 40 points against them.
Fitzgerald, who retired from rugby earlier this year with 34 caps for Ireland and one for the Lions, said Steve Hansen’s world champions would be a tougher proposition on Saturday as Ireland bid to become the first side to post back-to-back victories against them since South Africa in 2009.
“Do I think we can beat New Zealand again? I absolutely do,” Fitzgerald said in a video interview with independent.ie.
“It’s a really uphill task, they’ll be really hurting after that (defeat in Chicago). I think they showed a little bit of arrogance there and lack of respect with some of their selections.
“I think they’ll be really, really pumped up. I’d say they’ll do a little bit more research behind the scenes on us. I’d say they were a little bit under-cooked in that department and, from my own perspective, some of the selection mistakes they made they won’t make them again.”
New Zealand bounced back from the loss by making 12 changes to score 10 tries in a 68-10 win over Italy last Saturday, when Ireland also played free-flowing rugby to beat Canada 52-21.
The All Blacks are hoping influential second row Sam Whitelock is fit to return after injury, allowing them to move Jerome Kaino back to flanker.
Meanwhile Brian O’Driscoll believes the reappointment of Andy Farrell to Warren Gatland’s Lions coaching team will be welcomed by players. Farrell is favourite to reprise the defence role he performed with distinction in 2013 when Australia were dispatched 2-1, with Gatland scheduled to announce his assistants in Dublin on December 7.
O’Driscoll, a veteran of four Lions tours, insists the players were inspired by the passion displayed by Farrell three years ago.
“Farrell is good man manager and motivator and we got excited when he started talking. Kick chase became exciting,” O’Driscoll said.
“And I would imagine if he is brought in the players will continue to be excited. It was all about energy. The way Farrell talks, he really gets into it. And if he was on the coaching ticket I think he would be a really great addition.”
Farrell was England’s defence coach until the hosts’ demise in last autumn’s World Cup, but has since been recruited by Ireland. Former Ireland captain O’Driscoll believes his imprint was stamped all over the historic victory over New Zealand in Chicago on November 6.
“Andy has been incredibly influential. I have spoken to the boys and the very first session he took they were incredibly excited about what he was saying, the enthusiasm that he had,” O’Driscoll said.
“The boys who were on the Lions Tour in 2013 said he has brought his coaching to another level since then. When I was playing we were all relatively organised defensively as a team, but it was probably one cog that we missed because (head coach) Joe Schmidt was taking it and he had everything to think about.”
- The New Zealand Maori got back to winning ways after their defeat to Munster by beating Harlequins 26-10 at The Stoop last night.