The appointment comes earlier than expected, because such colossi could have starred in a spectacular final. However, the quarter crossing between Ireland and New Zealand in Tokyo will raise the highest expectations by bringing together the best selection of 2019, which has never surpassed this round in a World Cup, with the champion of the last two editions, which fell defeated against the XV of the Clover in two of the last three face to face.
Japan's unexpected leadership in Group A condemned Ireland to second place and this terrible stop along the way. The green suffering contrasts with the authority shown by the All Blacks, who passed over South Africa (23-13), Canada (63-0) and Namibia (71-9). On the other hand, Steve Hansen, his coach, cannot forget the two recent setbacks before his compatriot Joe Schmidt.
We had to wait 111 years for Ireland to bend the knee to New Zealanders. The historic 40-29 at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2016 gave way, two years later, to a 16-9. "It was a titanic struggle," Hansen recalls about the stumbling block in Dublin. Undoubtedly, this trend worries the big favorites to the title.
"Who can impose your plan"
"We know how tight these matches are. It's an exciting challenge," added captain Kieran Reid, who will end his international career after this championship. However, the ocean arsenal is so overwhelming that they can afford to leave Sonny Bill Williams on the bench or Ryan Crotty in the stands.
The Green Army , meanwhile, is presented without Bundee Aki, one of the key pieces of its network, suspended by a high tackle last week against Samoa (45-7). However, so far they have only granted two trials and are the best team in the tournament in percentage of success in the tackle.
New Zealand needs to stop the production of Johnny Sexton, the genius that makes sense of every Irish possession. The 34-year-old wing will maintain a spectacular duel with Richie Mo'unga, the best number 10 in the World Cup. "What counts is who can impose his game plan and manage the pressure," summed up Rory Best, the captain of the 15th Club, always in focus because of his inveterate habit of not singing the anthem before each game.
New Zealand | B. Barrett; Reece, Goodhue, Lienert-Brown, Bridge; Mo'unga, Smith; Read (captain), Cane, Savea; Whitelock, Retallick; Laulala, Taylor, Moody.
Substitutes: Coles, Tu'ungafasi, Ta'avao, S.Barrett, Todd, Perenara, Williams, J.Barrett.
Ireland | Kearney; Earls, Ringrose, Henshaw, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Stander, Can der Flier, O'Mahony; Ryan, Henderson; Furlong, Best (captain), Healy.
Substitutes | Scannell, Kilcoyne, Porter, Beirne, Ruddock, McGrath, Carbery, Larmour.
Referee | M. Owens (Wales).
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