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You can hardly blame Brian O'Driscoll if he gets sick of talking about the All Blacks.

Since first meeting them in 2001 he has played New Zealand nine times at eight different venues for the sum total of no wins, two tries and a solitary drop goal.

Throw in the dislocated shoulder suffered early in the first test of the 2005 Lions tour and his All Black experience is more Gothic horror than fairytale.

So it's no wonder he does everything but roll his eyes when the inevitable questions roll in about how you go about beating the All Blacks. He's probably one of the least qualified men in the world to answer.

But fair dues to the 31-year-old who, for much of his career, has been recognised as one of the world's best centres, he gives it a decent crack.

"Every time you play against them you've got to play one of your better games in a green jersey and you've got to play for 80 minutes," he said. "I've played a number of times against the All Blacks and I've played for 40 and 50 and 60 minutes.

"We are capable on the day. You look back at some of our great days against other sides. We've beaten the best sides in the world when we've put in big 80-minute performances. We just need to put in one of those against the All Blacks."

Ireland are not so much burdened, but bogged down by history. Their quest to beat New Zealand must seem never ending. The weight of defeat has given currency to minor and moral victories, which O'Driscoll would be the first to admit are no sort of victory at all.

His first test against the All Blacks was Richie McCaw's first test, when he must have wondered what all the fuss was about as a second-half try pushed Ireland's lead out to 14 points. They lost 29-40.

There have been times O'Driscoll has felt, going into the last quarter, that his side could beat the All Blacks. "But alas, no cigar."

With his career in its twilight, this might be the last chance O'Driscoll gets to pull a hand-rolled Montecristo out of the humidor.

Catalogue of woe
O'Driscoll's tests against the All Blacks
* 2001: 29-40 at Lansdowne Road
* 2002: 6-15 at Carisbrook; 8-40 at Eden Park
* 2005: 3-21 at Lancaster Park (Lions)
* 2006: 23-34 at Waikato Stadium; 17-27 at Eden Park
* 2008: 11-21 at Westpac Stadium; 3-22 at Croke Park
* 2010: 28-66 at Yarrow Stadium