Joe Schmidt acknowledges Ireland’s victory over New Zealand a year ago means they will not be able to “sneak up on” the All Blacks at the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.
A shock defeat to Japan consigned Ireland to second in Pool A and a meeting with New Zealand in the quarter-finals this weekend.
Schmidt’s side have recovered well from the reverse at the hands of the host nation, though, and will be confident heading into the clash in Tokyo.
Ireland beat the All Blacks on home soil for the first time last November and Schmidt claims his team “know how to get up for big games”.
However, he acknowledged the threat Ireland showed in that breakthrough victory means New Zealand will be well prepared.
“We’re certainly not going to sneak up on them anymore. We’re not going to surprise them,” he told a media conference.
“I think they’re well aware of how we play and what they’re going to do to combat that and what they’re going to put into their own armoury to make sure we’re chasing them about.”
But Schmidt sees how that previous triumph can play into Ireland’s hands, boosting players he believes must back themselves if they are to stand any chance.
“The unfortunate thing about any 23 that comes up against the All Blacks is they can play very well and still not get the result,” he said. “That’s the quality the All Blacks have, the athletes they possess.
#RWC2019 #ThrowbackThursday to our first ever win against New Zealand – take a look at an historic day for Irish Rugby in Chicago in 2016. #TeamOfUs #NZLvIRE #ShoulderToShoulder https://t.co/J94zsdbYwK
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 17, 2019
“But [Ireland] have connected up very well and they have had some pretty successful experiences together.
“A number of the players within the side have contributed to a fair bit of history for us – the first time we’ve won at home against the All Blacks and a few other milestones along the way.
“The accumulation of those experiences together hopefully builds a bit of confidence, because you need to have some belief.
“You can’t go out against an All Blacks side and accept that you’re second fiddle. You’ve got to go out and put your best foot forward. We hope that this 23 will be committed to doing that.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
New Zealand – Kieran Read
Heading into the knockout stages, some of the biggest names in world rugby will be turning out for their countries for the final time. All Blacks skipper Read will be among them if Ireland triumph.
“I think you have got to really embrace what the emotions are going to bring,” he said ahead of this mammoth clash.
Ireland – Rory Best
Best featured in impressive wins against South Africa and New Zealand in recent years and, having been criticised by some coming into the tournament, it is time to step up again. The captain, who debuted against the All Blacks in 2005, should be in inspired form, knowing defeat would make this his last international.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– New Zealand have won 28 of their 31 Test meetings with Ireland (D1, L2), but their two defeats have come in their past three clashes (2016, 2018).
– The sides have met just once before at the World Cup, with the All Blacks winning 43-19 in their pool stage clash in 1995.
– Ireland have reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the seventh time, yet they have never progressed to the last four at the tournament. Their six defeats at this stage are the joint-most along with Scotland.
– New Zealand have won their past 17 World Cup games, a record for any nation in the tournament’s history. However, their most recent defeat came in a quarter-final – a dramatic 20-18 loss to France in 2007.
– Conor Murray has scored four tries in nine Tests against New Zealand (three for Ireland, one for the British and Irish Lions). No player outside Australia or South Africa has crossed against the All Blacks as often.
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