Conway: All Blacks know we can beat them

Conway: All Blacks know we can beat them

Presumption has already made fools of many of us at this World Cup.

Early tournament attention on South Africa, in the expectation that Ireland would top their pool and thus face the Springboks in the quarter-finals, was curbed by Ireland's surprise loss to Japan in Shizuoka. So we should be slow to make any pointed predictions.

The consequences of Typhoon Hagibis are not yet clear and it remains to be seen if Scotland and Japan get to play the last Pool A game in Yokohama on Sunday and, if they do, what the result will be. All we can say for now is that Ireland's most likely opponent in the last eight will be the All Blacks.

It is a daunting prospect given the world champions' form in Japan where they started off with an impressive defeat of the Boks and yet Joe Schmidt's side would face them knowing Ireland have won two of the last three meetings.

Add in the win and the draw claimed by some of these Irish players in their guise as British and Irish Lions back in 2017 and there should be belief that the Six Nations side can do something special on the back of an encouraging defeat of Samoa on Saturday in Fukuoka.

Hope is one thing but one reporter probably went a mite too far when suggesting to Andrew Conway if maybe Ireland's reason relationship with the Kiwis might have instilled an element of fear into the massed ranks of the three-time world champions.

“I wouldn’t say fear factor because up until two or three years ago we hadn’t beaten them,” said the Munster man after scoring his third try of the tournament against the Samoans. “But they’re definitely aware of us more so now than they were before Chicago.

“I’d be surprised if they’re scared of us but they definitely know we can come and play and that we can beat them. But they’re playing ridiculously well at the moment.

They’re just looking sharp. They look like they’ve timed their run nice. If it is them we’ll have to be at 110% to get stuck into them.

Conway is one of those Irish players who seems to have timed his run equally well. His tries against Scotland, Russia and Samoa are rich reward for a player who has forced himself into the back three equation.

“I hope so. I hope so. It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet. It was a solid night. I feel like I’m going pretty well. There are probably a few areas of my game I need to tidy up on, but then a few areas of my game that have really come on.

“I feel like I’m beating more players, getting involved in more line breaks, scoring more tries. So I can compare that up with cleaning up those high balls, which I was kind of doing for a while back, and have probably just missing out those one or two that kind of set me.

“But, apart from that, it will kind of come together nicely. But I’m just working hard and, listen, I know there’s heavy competition where I’m playing. But I’m obviously hopeful that getting on the scoresheet consistently is a positive on my behalf.”

Add in his score against Italy in the opening warm-up game against Italy in August and Conway now has four tries in six games this season and he started only three of them. Boil it down further and Conway has scored a try for every 86.5 minutes of rugby he has played this season.

Eleven Ireland players have scored tries at this tournament but he is out on his own at the head of them and, with Keith Earls and Jacob Stockdale yet to get off the mark and Jordan Larmour scoring from full-back, Conway is the only winger with a try to his name right now.

“That just happens sometimes. You can make your own luck a bit. You’re getting involved, you feel like you’re looking for a try, and sometimes they come to you. And then other times you’re thinking ‘I haven’t been on the scoresheet for a while’.

“They are the thoughts which are going through your head and that will kind of continue on. But I’m delighted to be scoring obviously. Playing for your country and scoring for your country is amazing.”

More on this topic

We can win the World Cup, says Wales full-back Liam WilliamsWe can win the World Cup, says Wales full-back Liam Williams

Vunipola facing decisive moment for quarter-final availabilityVunipola facing decisive moment for quarter-final availability

‘Smart’ Ireland huge challenge to All Blacks, says Foster‘Smart’ Ireland huge challenge to All Blacks, says Foster

World Cup’s ‘Farewell’ side gone but not forgottenWorld Cup’s ‘Farewell’ side gone but not forgotten