It was the barely believable, back-from-the-dead finish which secured the All Blacks the first unbeaten season of the professional era. But, just as relevant this week, it was also the test that began altering perceptions and ushering in a new era of Irish rugby.

Joe Schmidt didn't quite morph into Maui and hook the big fish in his first crack at the All Blacks but he couldn't have come any closer, and has since established Ireland as New Zealand's greatest threat.

Ireland's Kiwi coach said this week he is "still bleeding" from the 24-22 defeat in 2013, the one in which Dane Coles popped off his left foot and offloaded to Ryan Crotty, who finished a stunning team try in the 82nd minute.

Aaron Cruden knocked over the sideline conversion - on the second attempt - and after squandering a 22-7 halftime lead and their first win over the All Blacks, Irish hearts were again broken.

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"I remember Dane did all the work and I didn't have to do anything, and since then, I've had to apologise to every Irishman I've met," Crotty said.

"It was a special year, 2013 - we went undefeated. We're excited to be back. It's a great city and it's an immensely tough opponent this weekend."

Ryan Crotty scores the match winning try in 2013. Photo / Getty
Ryan Crotty scores the match winning try in 2013. Photo / Getty

Somehow the All Blacks won the battle that day but Ireland still turned heads. It was clear they were a different team under Schmidt, capable of footing it with the world's best.

The on-field war stepped up a notch when Ireland finally ended 111 years of rugby oppression — as one local scribe put it yesterday — in Chicago in 2016.

It wasn't just the result but the manner Ireland achieved it — scoring five tries and refusing to buckle when the All Blacks launched their inevitable comeback after again trailing at the break by 15 points.

Coles remembers the 40-29 defeat all too well.

"I think we'd do anything in our power for that not to happen again because we were both involved in Chicago," the All Blacks hooker said, glancing at Crotty. "It wasn't a great feeling."

In one of the most brutally physical tests of Steve Hansen's tenure, the All Blacks survived two yellow cards to exact revenge with a 21-9 victory in Dublin two weeks later.

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All Blacks' Dane Coles is tackled by Ireland's Sean O'Brien. Photo / Getty
All Blacks' Dane Coles is tackled by Ireland's Sean O'Brien. Photo / Getty

Crotty recalls the resilient efforts of his teammates.

"I remember a stat the boys made something like 200-odd tackles that game," Crotty said. "We were content to give them the ball and trust our defence to hold them out.

"It was a really tough test match and a lot of the guys were really sore after that one."

Such recent history fuels anticipation this week.

That three points (74-71) separates the All Blacks and Ireland since that 2013 epic sums up the nature of what has fast become a fierce rivalry.

Ireland, Six Nations champions, now demand respect from not just the All Blacks but the rugby world, especially on home soil.

"We've had a bit of history, some really intense, close games, so we're pretty keen to enjoy the week; No 1 against No 2 it's going to be awesome," Coles said.

"There's a bit more intensity and build-up to it now. Since 2013, they've been a side that's been on the rise, so they deserve all the credit and respect they get. It's going to be a hummer this week.

"They've got that skill factor now but they're also very hard, direct men, very physical. It takes you to that limit.

Ireland's Devin Toner contests for the ball with Kieran Read of New Zealand. Photo / Photosport
Ireland's Devin Toner contests for the ball with Kieran Read of New Zealand. Photo / Photosport

"They have got the all-round game. We've felt the defeat of that. They can actually play — their forwards have great skills.

"Both teams have had a lot of drama. Obviously in 2013, we pulled out that magic win, and 2016, they won, but those things aren't going to help you this week.

"I'm sure both teams will want to feel that feeling again but we won't be tapping into the past for extra motivation."