Ireland v New Zealand - teams and prediction
QUARTERFINAL PREVIEW: Ireland will be desperate to put to bed the notion that they are the ultimate World Cup chokers!
Andy Farrell’s Ireland team, ranked No.1 in the world for over a year, will hope to avoid a repeat of the 2019 rankings curse that beset them when they face New Zealand in the quarterfinal at Stade de France in Paris on Sunday.
It is worth remembering that the same All Blacks knocked the men from the Emerald Isle out of the tournament and off their ranking pedestal in Japan four years ago.
Farrell this week told the media that his team never truly believed they were worthy.
Now they feel they have arrived.
“I suppose an inferiority complex is what’s happened in the past as far as getting to world No.1 and thinking that we’re going to fall off a cliff, because this shouldn’t be happening to Ireland,” the coach told reporters at a media briefing Wednesday.
“But I think what we’ve learned to do is throw ourselves into big challenges and try to meet them head on, and embrace that.
“We don’t want to be second best, we want to be first best.”
Hammered by the All Blacks four years ago at the same stage, the recent history between the two sides suggests the Irish have slightly the upper hand against a team that appear weaker than 2019.
Victory on Saturday would be Farrell’s fourth in five meetings with New Zealand, including a historic series win in New Zealand last year.
Farrell conceded that Ireland’s miserable record in World Cup knockout matches might come into his players’ heads at some stage.
“Of course, things start to creep in, but we’ve tools and experience to be able to combat all that,” he said.
“I suppose the main part of it is to realize that we’re a bloody good team that play together.
“And when we do that, you’re not on your own so you can get away from those types of thoughts.”
* (Article continues below the Ireland interview …)
New Zealand coach Ian Foster also touched on the Irish record at the global showpiece.
“The past is the past,” Foster said, playing down the events of 2019.
“I think this is an Irish team on a mission.
“And it’s an All Blacks team on a mission.
“I’ll leave it to you to talk about the past and what that means and the burdens that everyone carries.
“The key is to clear your head and just play.”
He knows that his team can lean on their experience of past World Cup play-off matches, of which they have won many.
“It gives us confidence that we know what it’s about,” Foster said.
“In my time, 2015, we had to deal with the demons of Cardiff and France and people talking about 2007.
“In 2019 it was all about playing a red-hot Irish team who had beaten us the year before and coming into the tournament No.1 so there is a lot of synergies if you look at the past but what you have heard is that the real lesson is it doesn’t mean anything.
“We have been preparing really well over the last month, we’re ready to go and I’m sure they have too. It should be a great game.”
Players to watch
For Ireland: Farrell kept faith with the same starting XV as the one that hammered Scotland 36-14 last Saturday – with both wings, Mack Hansen and James Lowe, recovered from calf and eye injuries respectively. Jimmy O’Brien, who provides backline cover is one of two changes on the replacements bench, with Joe McCarthy coming in for fellow lock James Ryan, who has a wrist injury but the team is hopeful he will be able to return if they reach the semifinals. Ireland’s talismanic captain Johnny Sexton would head into retirement with that chokers tag around his team if they fail to get a win. Only six of the starting XV began the 2019 quarterfinal defeat to New Zealand – Garry Ringrose, captain Johnny Sexton, Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson, Peter O’Mahony and world Player of the Year Josh van der Flier.
For New Zealand: In-form wing Mark Telea has been dropped by coach Ian Foster, after breaking team protocol. Foster made six changes from the team that began the 73-0 drubbing of Uruguay in the All Blacks’ last pool match. He recalled Ethan de Groot, Ardie Savea, Aaron Smith, Rieko Ioane and the Barrett brothers, Scott and Beauden, the latter two join sibling Jordie in the starting XV. Sam Cane again captains the side and will be bidding to avoid becoming the first All Blacks captain to lose three Tests to the Irish.
Head to head
@rugby365com: Ireland by five points
Ireland: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Mack Hansen, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 James Lowe, 10 Johnny Sexton (captain), 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Peter O’Mahony, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Tadhg Beirne, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Dan Sheehan, 1 Andrew Porter.
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Joe McCarthy, 20 Jack Conan, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Jack Crowley, 23 Jimmy O’Brien.
New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Fletcher Newell, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Dalton Papali’i, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.
Date: Saturday, October 14
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 20 UK & Ireland time; 08.00 Sunday, October 15 NZDT)
Expected weather: Cooler with intervals of clouds and sunshine, as well as windy and with a small chance of precipitation. High of 16°C and a low of 6°C.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)`
* Additional reporting by @rugbyworldcup & AFP