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The Irish stat that should scare the All Blacks

NZ Herald

Ireland will be heading into their quarter-final matchup with the All Blacks knowing that they have the tools to beat the world champions.

The Irish have never made it past the quarter-finals stage at a World Cup, but most players in the current side have tasted victory against the All Blacks.

In fact, every single player in Joe Schmidt’s starting team has beaten the All Blacks before, either in their history-making win in Chicago in 2016 or last year in Dublin.

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Schmidt’s starting side suggests that Ireland are relying on experience and proven ability in test rugby.

Ireland brought back experienced duo Rob Kearney and Peter O’Mahony, while Garry Ringrose replaces the suspended Bundee Aki who was suspended after his red card against Samoa.

Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray make for a potent duo, while the Irish tight five was an easy selection for Schmidt, with Cian Healy, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong making up the front row, and James Ryan and Iain Henderson the locking combination.

Young rising star Jordan Larmour, who had onlookers calling for him to start after he shone against Samoa, will start on the bench.

Irish rugby journalist Murray Kinsella believes Schmidt decided to start more experienced players because of their past performances against the All Blacks.

“Schmidt resisted the temptation to throw a cat amongst the pigeons by selecting Jordan Larmour or Tadhg Beirne or Rhys Ruddock in his starting XV – all three feature on the bench – but it’s understandable that he has gone for Rob Kearney and Peter O’Mahony,” Kinsella wrote in Irish publication The 24.

“Current form is, of course, crucial but Schmidt remembers Kearney delivering in stunning fashion in Chicago in 2016 when the head coach had put real pressure on the experienced fullback to deliver in that game at Soldier Field.

“Schmidt also vividly recalls O’Mahony being an inspirational man of the match last November in Dublin as Ireland repeated the feat against the Kiwis on home soil, the Cork man’s goalkeeper save in the Ireland 22 among his highlights.

“While Larmour and Beirne and Ruddock might have added energy and something the Kiwis weren’t expecting, Schmidt has long been a coach who stays loyal to those who have earned his faith. Kearney and O’Mahony have done so over the course of many years.”

Ireland team to face the All Blacks in Tokyo:

15. Rob Kearney, 14. Keith Earls, 13. Garry Ringrose, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 10. Johnny Sexton, 9. Conor Murray, 8. CJ Stander, 7. Josh Van der Flier, 6. Peter O’Mahony, 5. James Ryan, 4. Iain Henderson, 3. Tadhg Furlong, 2. Rory Best (c), 1. Cian Healy.

Reserves: 16. Niall Scannell, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Tadhg Beirne, 20. Rhys Ruddock, 21. Luke McGrath, 22. Joey Carbery, 23. Jordan Larmour

Ireland team that beat the All Blacks 40-29 in Chicago (2016):

Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray, Jack McGrath, Rory Best (c), Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Devin Toner, CJ Stander, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip.

Reserves: Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Joey Carbery, Garry Ringrose.

Ireland team that beat the All Blacks 16-9 in Dublin (2018):

Rob Kearney, Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale, Jonathan Sexton, Kieran Marmion, CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, Peter O’Mahony, James Ryan, Devin Toner, Tadhg Furlong, Rory Best (c), Cian Healy.

Reserves: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, Jordi Murphy, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.

This article first appeared on nzherald.co.nz and was republished with permission.

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The Irish stat that should scare the All Blacks