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Rory Best says Ireland are unfazed by injuries ahead of All Blacks clash

Best prepares to lead his country out for one of the biggest Test matches of the year
Image: Rory Best prepares to lead his country out for one of the biggest Test matches of the year

Captain Rory Best says Ireland must simply deal with the growing number of injuries ahead of their meeting with New Zealand.

The Six Nations champions' build-up to Saturday's showdown with the All Blacks has been disrupted by injuries.

Sean O'Brien, Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw were ruled out at the start of the week and Dan Leavy became the latest casualty on Friday afternoon.

The Leinster openside flanker was initially named in the starting XV, but has been replaced by Josh van der Flier, with Jordi Murphy coming onto the bench.

Despite these setbacks, Best remains confident that Ireland will cope.

"I think it's something we've had to deal with last week [against Argentina]," said the 36-year-old. "Dan came onto the bench that day and came into the game quite early.

Leavy misses out through injury
Image: Dan Leavy misses out through injury

"It's something that Josh trained in quite a bit of yesterday, they all slot in the back-rows. Especially someone like Josh, you know he's going to have been diligent regardless of where he's been in the squad.

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"He will know his drills inside and out, so from our point of view it doesn't change things massively. Because you're replacing a quality player with two more quality players, one to start and one to come onto the bench.

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"Joe (Schmidt) talked about how tough selection was this week, and I'm sure that was one position that was particularly tough."

Best has full faith in Van der Flier, who missed the second half of last season due to a serious knee injury sustained against France, but has come roaring back since then.

"Josh since he's come back from his injury this season has been unbelievably physical, some of the tackles he's been making around the fringes for Leinster have been staggering," said Best.

Van Der Flier has experience of facing New Zealand in Dublin
Image: Josh van der Flier faced the All Blacks twice in 2016

"He's got an unbelievable engine, and I think him and Dan are quite similar in many ways in terms of how good they are over the ball, and how physical they are.

"Two years ago Josh came on quite early here as well and had a great game, and made a couple of good line breaks.

"Josh will bring his game, and he will fit in seamlessly and accordingly."

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The Ulster hooker went on to note that Ireland will need their starting XV to be fully fit and ready for battle, given the immense physical challenge of the All Blacks.

"New Zealand are renowned for the style of rugby they play, and one to 15 they can all play and put people into space and through holes," he said.

"But probably the area of their game that doesn't get as much credit is their physicality, they are incredibly physical in the tackle area and the carry and at the breakdown.

"So you know that if you don't match that, with the talent they've got across the pitch, that it's going to be tough.

"Against NZ you've got to gear yourself up for a physical battle, because it's what they bring."

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