The Ireland team Joe Schmidt should pick to beat New Zealand
Ireland already created history in South Africa. Could they do it again in Chicago... or Dublin?
Joe Schmidt's side defeated the Springboks in South Africa yet still returned home disappointed. Despite their 14-man heroics in Cape Town, the Boks rallied to beat a weary Ireland 2-1.
Next up, the All Blacks. The world champions are fresh from white-washing Wales in the Steinlager Series but may not be so fresh once the Super Rugby season and Rugby Championship conclude.
Ireland face New Zealand twice in the space of 14 days, this November. Having used all 32 players on tour in South Africa, Schmidt has even more options for the autumn internationals. Here is the starting XV we feel would have the best chance of defeating the ABs for the first time ever, at Soldier Field.
Two nailed-on starters here. Jack McGrath and Rory Best, the captain, must start. Peter O'Mahony will eventually take up the captaincy but Best has led the team well in South Africa. McGrath is one of the world's best looseheads now. He would be truly world-class if he cuts out his concession of penalties.
Tighthead is the big call. Mike Ross will be a month off 37 but proved in South Africa that he can still do a job. Tadhg Furlong was much more threatening in the set-piece during his Second Test start and is our choice. Being harsh, there's no point having Ross on the bench so we would go with Wasps' Marty Moore in reserve, rather than Finlay Bealham.
There are emerging options, all of a sudden, but Schmidt is likely to go with Devin Toner and Iain Henderson and we have no complaints. We would like to see Ultan Dillane sprung from the bench earlier than the 70th minute though.
This is the trickiest unit to figure out but we are going for a mix of old and, internationally speaking, new. Jordi Murphy has done his chances no harm after two strong Tests and Josh van der Flier should return fitter and stronger after summer surgery. Hopefully we see the best of Sean O'Brien in 2016/17 too. If so, he will push for that No.7 jersey.
Peter O'Mahony is back too and we feel he should go straight back into the team. To accommodate CJ Stander, we are moving the Munster captain to the openside slot. It is the back row position O'Mahony has played for his province before and one which would suit his battling qualities and rucking abilities.
No.8 picks itself, Jamie Heaslip finished 2016/17 strongly after a disappointing start and was impressive in the opening tests against the Boks.
Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton remain the obvious starters but Paddy Jackson is now a viable option at outhalf. Kieran Marmion is surely the back-up 9. Surely.
Just when we were bedding in for three more years of Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne, Rob Kearney gets injured and two Ulstermen get a go. The heart says Stuart Olding but the head and heart say Luke Marshall.
Despite getting done by Elton Jantjes crossfield kick, Andrew Trimble remains our best man for the job on the right wing. While we would love to see more of Matt Healy on the other wing, you can't take the jersey off Keith Earls. He was excellent in the First Test victory over South Africa before, like so many others, fading in Port Elizabeth.
There is no doubt about who should wear 15 against the All Blacks. In his two outings in the fullback role, Jared Payne showed just how dangerous he can be in attack while ticking almost all the defensive boxes [his drift for the Warren Whiteley try was a blip].
OUR IRELAND XV
15. Jared Payne
14. Andrew Trimble
13. Robbie Henshaw
12. Luke Marshall
11. Keith Earls
10. Johnny Sexton
9. Conor Murray
1. Jack McGrath
2. Rory Best
3. Tadhg Furlong
4. Devin Toner
5. Iain Henderson
6. CJ Stander
7. Peter O'Mahony
8. Jamie Heaslip