Ireland to play New Zealand in 2018
The Autumn Internationals in 2018 are going to be blockbuster.
After a clean sweep this November, brushing aside South Africa, Fiji and Argentina, Joe Schmidt confirmed Ireland's Tier 1 opponents for the same set of fixtures next year.
- New Zealand
They will also play against a Tier 2 country but that nation is still to be confirmed.
With the Six Nations on the horizon and three tests in Australia in June against the Wallabies, there didn't seem to be much point in looking too much further but the Irish are set to give themselves the ultimate test ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 2019.
After the third win of this series, beating Argentina to round off 2017 in style, Joe Schmidt spoke with the daily newspaper journalists and revealed that another clash with New Zealand is in the offing but, more interestingly, there's potential for a second game with the All Blacks - like what happened in 2016.
Last year, Ireland played four Tests in the Autumn Internationals - a one-off game in Soldier Field proving to make history as New Zealand were put to the sword in Illinois.
And that is a possibility again in 2018. Four games if all parties can agree.
"We haven't had a formal request from anyone yet (for a fourth Test), but if there is one as we got for the match in Chicago, then we'd consider it if it comes up and we'd try and stay in touch with the provincial coaches and see if we can make it work," Schmidt said.
The Irish don't fear the All Blacks anymore having beaten them in Chicago, scared them in Dublin and beaten and drew with them on the Lions tour. And maybe, just maybe, that's what attracts New Zealand back.