After finishing third in World Rugby’s Technical Review Group recommendation into who should host the 2023 Rugby World Cup, Ireland have been dealt another blow this morning.
Steve Tew, New Zealand Rugby chief executive, has revealed his votes will go to South Africa.
The voting is not until November 15 and the review group's decision does not confirm South Africa's bid but it places the Boks as favourites.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, Tew said: "From a New Zealand point of view our board made a decision early on that if the process was seen to have worked well and been done fairly and professionally then it would be very hard not to vote the way of the recommendation."
"While the scores are relatively close there was a clear margin. South Africa is the best candidate so we'll be guided by the recommendation and vote accordingly."
Tew commented that Ireland had presented their bid well and hoped they would try to bid again for the 2027 World Cup.
"They presented the way the tournament would work if it was allocated to Ireland very well. I'm not going to comment on what proposal would be better than the other.
"In 2003 New Zealand went through a very different process where we started off hosting a part of it and ended up hosting none. In 2005, when we went through the bid process, we were lucky enough to be successful.
"When you have three strong candidates, as we did for 2011, you're going to have a disappointed group or two. One would hope they'd be keen to have a go in 2027. World Rugby is in a good position," Tew added.
Ireland's bid team has not given up hope on hosting the global event in 2023, however.
After SA Rugby’s chief executive Jurie Roux that expressed the hope Ireland and France would step aside, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar reiterated that they weren't giving up hope.
"We won’t be pulling out. It’s now down to votes and we’ll be campaigning for votes between now and November 15."
World Rugby will hold a vote on November 15 to decide which nation will host the tournament, with the winning bid needing a majority. Of the 39 votes available, the winning nation needs just 20.