Ireland moved atop Pool A with 16 points ahead of hosts Japan’s game against Scotland on Sunday.
Scotland needs to win that game to have any chance of progressing, but they will have to wait until World Rugby assess conditions in the wake of Typhoon Hagibis before knowing if the game will go ahead at Yokohama today.
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If the game is cancelled, it will be logged as a tie and both teams will be awarded two competition points, enough for Japan to qualify for the knockout stage for the first time and set-up a quarter-final with New Zealand for Ireland.
When asked about the prospect of playing the side that they beat at home last November, Ireland’s coach Joe Schmidt said his side will need to be at their very best.
“You have to be at your very best to have a chance,” he said after the win over Samoa.
“The All Blacks are a team you can play at your best and still not get the result. They were not world No.1 for 10 years and are not back-to-back World Cup winners for no reason.
Schmidt likened beating the All Blacks as ‘climbing a mountain’ but will look for a second straight win over Steve Hansen’s side.
“For us it would be a mountain to climb, but after tonight the lads got their boots on and got a few crampons out and have taken a little bit of an ascent, but the whole thing gets steeper next week and if it is the All Blacks we will look to scale those heights.”
Munster winger Andrew Conway fired the first barb towards the Kiwis, saying they will ‘definitely’ know that Ireland can beat them, calling his side ‘battle-hardened’ after beating Samoa, Russia, and Scotland and losing to Japan.
“You can look at it in a negative or a positive way. New Zealand will be fresh, we’ll be battle-hardened,” he said.
“I’d be surprised if they were scared of us but they definitely know that we can come and play and that we can beat them.
Conway praised the way New Zealand are playing at the moment to take some of the edge off his opening comments.
“They’re playing ridiculously well at the moment. They just look sharp. They’ve timed their run nicely so if it’s them we’ll have to be at 110 percent to get stuck into them.”
The Irish needed to ensure they controlled their own quarterfinal prospects with a big win over the Samoans, and had wrapped up a bonus point by halftime.
Joe Schmidt and Rory Best talk to the press after beating Samoa:
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