Friday 18 October 2019

Irish ranking makes no difference

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

The All Blacks have brushed off any suggestion that they are concerned to be starting a World Cup campaign having been knocked off the top of the world rankings, but assistant coach Ian Foster acknowledged the work that Ireland have done to climb the ladder.

Joe Schmidt's men will begin the tournament as the No 1 ranked team and while it would be naive to read too much into that, it is unquestionably a reflection of the work that Ireland have done over the last couple of years.

The No 1 and two ranked teams could end up meeting each other in a potential quarter-final clash, but New Zealand insist that the rankings don't mean much to them unless they finish the tournament on top. Foster said: "I don't think it makes the slightest bit of difference to us quite frankly.

"Regardless of a ranking, we have got our expectations that are pretty high and that's what we want to live up to.

"There are a lot of teams that deserve the right to be considered as contenders and it's going make it a really interesting World Cup."

The All Blacks will take on the Springboks on Saturday in what promises to be a mouthwatering encounter.

Foster confirmed that the Kiwi coaches will not attend Ireland's game against Scotland the following day, but he did say that they would be "keeping a close eye on it".

Ireland are hopeful that Rob Kearney (calf) and Keith Earls (knee) will train today, but both players remain a doubt for Sunday's opener.

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