The Maori All Blacks have beaten several international teams — including Ireland and the British & Irish Lions — over the years and plan on adding Munster to their imposing list of victims at a packed Thomond Park on Friday night.
Munster, of course, have plans of their own to welcome the tourists, their confidence and intent bolstered by the many fine performances their predecessors have put up against teams from the country of the long white cloud.
But Stephen Archer, a tight head prop with a particularly onerous task against a side renowned for its uncompromising approach, knows another note in the history books will be hard earned.
“It’ll be a tough game and I’m sure we will feel it on Saturday morning,” accepts the 18 stone, 12 lbs, 6 ft 2 inch Cork Consitution clubman.
“I just watched a few minutes of them in the video room and there were plenty of big hits. We need to get ourselves ready for a bruising encounter. If we don’t match them physically, then we will get blown off the park.”
Although Munster are on something of a roll in both the European Cup and Guinness Pro12 league, Archer is looking forward to a change in the normal run of things.
“It is a kind of international rugby week for us now which is weird in itself,” he reasons.
“We don’t know much about them but we do know they put in a very good performance against the USA at the weekend. We will have to bring our ‘A’ game. They are so skilful, like all New Zealand teams. They just do the basics so well. I haven’t seen a New Zealander who can’t pass the ball.
“There is going to be a lot of running. I pride myself though on my skillset and my ability to get around the park pretty well too and so I look forward to these types of games.”
He also believes playing in front packed houses sits well with this Munster team.
“We have been doing the basics well and if you do that and when your set-piece is functioning well, especially at home in front of a huge crowd, you are going to be tough to beat,” he says.
“Personally, I have not played much rugby this season. Playing last weekend was good for me. It was great to get a run and a good chunk of time.”
Archer was only 22 when Australia visited Thomond Park for a similar fixture back in 2010. He remembers the occasion for more than one reason!
“I was on the bench and it was Irish weather, it was very bad that night,” he smiles.
“It was a memorable day. I suppose the fact we still remember the weather, six years on, it goes to show a lot about that day.
“It was a great day and no matter what the weather is like on Friday, we would take the same result. (Munster won 15-6).
“It is up to us to put in a good performance this week and build on that tradition. And I am sure the Maori are also coming here to right the wrongs of last weekend. I presume there are fellas on that squad trying to put their hands up for All Black selection too.
“I was watching last weekend and I was proud to be Irish. It was an incredible achievement and it was an even better performance.
“I was especially delighted for the four Munster lads. They really acquitted themselves well.”
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