Ireland players don masks ahead of scary clash against All Blacks

Joe Schmidt’s side aim to stop New Zealand making it 19 Test wins in a row on Saturday

Ireland players Craig Gilroy, Rob Kearney  and Devin Toner walk past a sportswear store in Chicago on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland players Craig Gilroy, Rob Kearney and Devin Toner walk past a sportswear store in Chicago on Tuesday morning. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Ireland’s rugby players got in the Halloween mood on their flight to Chicago on Monday by donning masks as they flew business class to O’Hare airport.

The 27-strong panel face the scary prospect of taking on an All Blacks team seeking to extend their world record winning run to 19 Tests at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday.

Scaring fellow passengers wasn’t the aim for Joe Schmidt’s players though; instead some of the players wore dehumidifier masks in a bid to ease the effects of jetlag after the eight-hour flight.

The ‘Humidflyer’ masks, which cost $65 (€59) each, work by trapping the moisture as you exhale and using it to humidify the dry cabin air as you inhale, helping to prevent excessive dehydration.

Ireland hooker Seán Cronin found a second use for the device, having a pop at fellow Leinster frontrow Tadhg Furlong by tweeting: “Specifically for keeping out Tighthead odours @tadhgfurlong Chicago bound . . .”

New Zealand arrived in Chicago last Friday, giving them a three-day advantage over Ireland, although with more jetlag to shift following an 18-hour flight from Auckland via Los Angeles .

The Ireland flight touched down just before the start of the Monday Night Football game between the Chicago Bears and the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field, where the home side recorded their best win of what has been a poor season, although they remain bottom of the NFC North after eight weeks.

It’s the fortune of one of the city’s two baseball teams that dominates the sporting talk in the Windy City just now, with the Cubs 2-3 down to the Cleveland Indians in the best of seven World Series and facing into the final two games on the road, the first of which gets underway on Tuesday night.

The Cubs have not won the World Series since 1908, three years after Ireland first played New Zealand in a Test. Ireland’s record of 27 losses and one draw in the 111 years since against the All Blacks is one that Cubs fans might relate to.

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