The task couldn’t be harder but this New Zealand side has its weaknesses and here we take a quick look what Ireland need to do to have any chance of winning.
Firstly, Ireland need a strong start. As we saw in the Six Nations when the Irish hit the back-foot early on they seem to drop off in their performance. Along with the fact that Ireland seem to struggle with the final minutes of games at the tournament so far and need any sort of advantage to hold on to from an early stage.
Sticking with timing, and Ireland need to be careful in the ten minute spell before half-time and the ten minutes after. The All Blacks seem to be at their best in that 20 minute section and they love to rack up the points, while deflating their opposition around this time. If Ireland can keep the scores to a minimum here they could unnerve their opponents heading into the final 30 minutes of the game.
Another key is to keep the scoreboard ticking over. Ireland need to take any penalty opportunity and punish the All Blacks with either three-points from the tee or come away with a try from a kick to the corner.
They must be clinical when they have any chance in the New Zealand 22-metre line if they are to cause an upset.
As a team they need to defend with a huge amount of intensity, coming up in a line as a whole, not leaving any gaps as the All Blacks have the players to exploit any weakness. However, they need to be careful of the offside line as they must stay on the right side of referee Nigel Owens.
In terms of players, Ireland may be wise to tactically kick to the back-three, while chasing up every kick from the boot. Although Beauden Barrett is an outstanding player, if Ireland can kick and chase to him, and force him to second-guess himself they could be on to something.
The key for any victory is to help fly-half Johnny Sexton produce his best. That means allowing him quick-ball from the rucks, being available for quick one-twos and giving him protection from opposition tacklers. If he has a good game, Ireland have a good game, it’s as simple as that.
Other key men to give the ball to are James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong and CJ Stander, who can all carry well while bringing in defenders and allowing space out wide. In turn that is going to help the likes of Jacob Stockdale, who could have the beating of Sevu Reece on his wing, if he is given the chance to show his talent.
If Ireland are to progress they will need a full squad effort and with around 60 minutes on the clock the subs could be vital. The All Blacks scrum does not have the resources of the Irish one and if the starting front-row can cause issues for the All Blacks then the replacements could have a field day.
Meanwhile Tadhg Beirne and Rhys Ruddock bring such intensity to the game especially at the breakdown, which could be an area to target in the closing stages as bodies tire. With that in mind Jordan Larmour could be key if the game is close near the end as he has been in sensational form so far in Japan and against some tiring New Zealand defenders, he could cause mayhem.
Ireland will also need to stop players such as Ardie Savea and Codie Taylor breaking the line as they have pace and skill to tear open defences. While in terms of the All Blacks bench Ireland will need to watch out for Sonny Bill Williams, who will be fresh on the field near the end and is a game changer with his offloading and handling skills.
Overall, Ireland need a near perfect performance to advance to new heights. We have seen them carve up two wins in their last three games against New Zealand but this is different. The World Cup is All Blacks territory and they will be up to the task of knocking out a team that threatens their three in a row ambitions. However, a team that were once invincible now show small signs of weakness, the question remains can Ireland exploit the chinks in their armour?
Ireland Climb in Latest World Rankings
Ireland have had the biggest boost in the latest World Rugby Rankings ahead of the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw later this year
The boys in green have taken over the No 4 spot in the rankings following their 24-14 win over Wales in the Six Nations over the weekend, with their opponents dropping down to fifth.
It is a major boost for the Irish and gives them something to hold on to heading into the rest of this year’s fixtures as they are now currently in the top seeds ahead of the draw for the pool stages of France 2023.
World Rugby announced recently that they will hold the draw later this year meaning that teams will have less time to climb the rankings than last time around when they had 18 months between the previous World Cup and the draw for the next one.
A total of twelve teams will head into the draw as seeds in three brackets with the top four in the rankings being first seeds, meaning as of now Wales would be second seeds along with France, Australia and Japan.
Elsewhere in the rankings Georgia have moved up ahead of Italy, following the former’s latest two defeats in the Six Nations, while the biggest risers have been Portugal, who have moved from 22nd to 20th, but Russia have dived from 20th to 25th.
Ireland will be hoping to continue their perfect start to the Six Nations campaign when they take on the third-ranked team England away from home, whom they may look to overtake in the rankings before the draw.
World Rugby Confirm Timing of 2023 RWC Draw
World Rugby have confirmed when they will be hosting the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw and it has put pressure on teams to get positive results this year
World Rugby has announced that it will host the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw in November of this year.
The tournament will take place in France with the draw being held in Paris following the November internationals.
That means that teams only have between now and then to better their current rankings and move into a different drawing band, whereas for the previous draw they had 18 months to improve.
Speaking on the announcement World Rugby chief Bill Beaumont is excited to discover the fate of the teams and has put the pressure on teams to do well this year.
“The pool draw is an important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as it really drives excitement and momentum both in the host nation and throughout the global rugby family – it is the moment teams and fans can start to plan. With the World Rugby rankings determining the bands for the RWC 2023 pool draw, it promises to be a fascinating year of men’s international rugby with every match counting towards seeding at the end of the November Test series,” he said.
Twelve of the 20 participating teams from last year’s World Cup in Japan have automatically qualified, with the other eight to be decided in the qualifiers that will begin later this year.
However, the twelve teams that are already involved will have to be at their best to move up a band in the current rankings or fear dropping down in which case they could get a harder draw.
As of this moment the first band contains the World Cup semi-finalists from last year in South Africa, England, New Zealand and Wales, with the remaining quarter-finalists making up band two in Ireland, Australia, Japan and France.
It will be a tough task for teams to improve their current standings with the Six Nations teams only having one edition of the tournament to improve compared to the two editions they had last time around, but it does add some extra competition to this year’s fixtures.
Fans Player of the Decade Confirmed
World Rugby have announced the winner of their Fans Player of the Decade vote and there’s no surprise who’s won
Former All Blacks fly-half Dan Carter has been named World Rugby’s Fans Player of the Decade following their polls over the past couple of weeks.
The organisation narrowed the competition down to 16 players, as they split them into a last-16 style format, with backs on one side and forwards on the other. With two players going head-to-head in the polls to make it through to each respective round.
Last week it was brought down to the final four, with all of them being New Zealand internationals as Carter was pitted up against Beauden Barrett, with Richie McCaw facing Kieran Read.
McCaw and Carter were victorious and now Carter has come out as the overall winner as the best player over the past 10-years.
It is not hard to see why fans have gone for the 112-cap All Black, who finished up his international career in 2015, having guided his country to historic back-to-back Rugby World Cup crowns.
As well as that he holds the title for the most points scored at test-level rugby with an incredible 1598 to his name.
On the international stage he was impressive, but he has been equally so at club-level, winning domestic crowns in both France with Racing 92 and in Japan with the Kobelco Steelers.
The 37-year-old is still under contract with the Japanese outfit, but has been unable to play for them for the majority of the year, having suffered a major injury, which also prevented him from a brief return to Racing 92 for the latter-half of last season.
However, he is poised to return to the playing field shortly and will be hoping to guide his team to further success and will have the aid of another All Black great joining him in the form of Brodie Retallick, who is linking up with the side for the season during his year sabbatical.
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