Former Irish lock Neil Francis has warned Ireland to be wary of cynical foul play from the All Blacks on Saturday night.

Francis, who made 36 appearances between 1987-1996 for Ireland, wasn't impressed by the All Blacks' tactics in their victory over Ireland in Dublin in 2016, where the All Blacks won 21-9, on the basis of what Francis believed were "acts of cynical aggression and foul play".

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Writing for the Irish Independent, Francis argued that the game had a "dark undertow of aggression that manifested," with CJ Stander, Rob Kearney and Robbie Henshaw all coming off the field with concussion.

Ireland's Robbie Henshaw was injured in the 2016 Dublin test. Photo / Photosport
Ireland's Robbie Henshaw was injured in the 2016 Dublin test. Photo / Photosport

Ireland's manager Mick Kearney claimed that match included 12 citable offences - 11 against the All Blacks.

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"That gives you a snapshot of what New Zealand are prepared to do to win a match and first in their constitution is to ramp up their aggression and their cynicism on the field of play," said Francis.

Beauden Barrett attempts a tackle against Ireland. Photo / Photosport
Beauden Barrett attempts a tackle against Ireland. Photo / Photosport

Writing about this weekend's quarter-final, Francis predicted that there is a high likelihood of an aggressive game.

"We know what is going to happen – it will be a match of unprecedented aggression and while both sides are capable of playing flowing rugby, I fear the first half in particular will be remembered for each side's ability to inflict grievous damage on the other."

"The All Blacks now know Ireland are not afraid of them and also know that they can be turned over, this is far from a vintage New Zealand team.

"Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell will have their team primed and I have a strong feeling that Ireland can and will turn New Zealand over," said Francis.


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