Dane Coles: Irish defeats not relevant in a World Cup quarter-final

Some things don't change with the All Blacks. Though they can play rugby with a terrifying beauty, there is a robotic consistency to the way they put opponents to the sword.

Dane Coles: Irish defeats not relevant in a World Cup quarter-final

Some things don't change with the All Blacks. Though they can play rugby with a terrifying beauty, there is a robotic consistency to the way they put opponents to the sword.

What has changed since their last World Cup win, in England four years ago, is some of the players responsible for all this and, to a certain extent, how they go about it. It's the mark of all market leaders: never stand still, keep evolving.

A heap of world-class talent, including Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Jerome Kaino, Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith, has been lost to the sands of time and the team's individual constituents aren't the only thing to have changed. The current collective presents the same menacing threat but with a twist.

New Zealand played 47 times between the 2015 final and their opening game at this tournament. They played the same number again between their success in 2011 and the first run-out in England four years ago but they have been beaten twice as many times (six) in this cycle while scoring and conceding significantly more tries.

Two of those losses have been at Ireland's hands, with a high-scoring encounter in Chicago three years ago backed up by a more low-scoring and grueling engagement in Dublin last November. These are results that change the relationship between two teams that meet in a quarter-final this Saturday.

“I hope it doesn't happen again,” said the veteran Kiwi hooker Dane Coles on Tuesday. “For me personally, it's important that we don't look back.

World Cups are different. (Ireland) get the same amount of respect they deserve.

“They have knocked us but it is very different being in a World Cup. So far we haven't really talked about what happened on those previous occasions. They might take a lot of confidence out of it but we know that we need to stay focused for this week and get into it.”

New Zealand may be keen to bury the past but Ireland's success in winning two of the last three encounters between the sides is a talking point that everyone apart from the two teams is more than happy to discuss as the days dwindle towards kick-off.

That game in Dublin was the Kiwi's tenth in just 14 weeks which were spent traipsing from Australia to New Zealand and on to Argentina, South Africa, Japan, England and Ireland.

The eleventh and final leg of the journey would be completed a week later against Italy in Rome.

Not all of the players took in every stop, of course, but no doubts that the All Blacks now are stronger than they were at the Aviva that day: only six of those who started eleven months ago did so when they opened this tournament against the Springboks in Yokohama.

That's one take on it even if Coles wasn't interested in looking at it through that lens.

“Oh mate, that's probably an excuse if we think like that. I don't think that's right. On the day, we were beaten by a better team.

We are not making excuses because it was the end of the season, we have never done that. I don't think that is an excuse. We lost the game.

“They took their chances and we didn't.”

Taking their chances has not usually been an issue for the All Blacks who have scored a staggering total of 251 tries between this World Cup and the 2015 final against Australia in Twickenham. That comes in at an average of well over five per game.

The closest to them in that spell are England on 3.5 per game with Ireland close behind.

The devastating beauty of the All Blacks is that they can win, and have won, any which way. They have put 63 points on France in a quarter-final and beaten the same opponents 8-7 in the last two tournaments. Whatever the score, being clinical will be paramount.

“Yeah, it's very definitely important that we take our chances,” said Coles. “We are definitely not going to get what we have been given in the pool play. We know that. We worry about us. We have been training really, really well and things have been working.

“We know that, on the field, we might only get one chance to pull it off and we have to make sure that we do that. If we don't, then that is a chance that goes missing.

We have been working really hard on attack. Hopefully we can get some pictures on Saturday and execute that.

Coles actually played a key role in one of the most heartbreaking tries in Irish history. It was six years ago when he managed to extricate his hands, and the ball, from the clutches of two Irish tacklers and put Ryan Crotty over in the corner at the Aviva Stadium.

Crotty's injury-time finish, and Aaron Cruden's conversion, put paid to hopes on the day that Ireland could finally claim a first ever win against the All Blacks but the hooker was consistent in blocking out the past when asked about that stunning assist here.

"Which one was that again?

"Oh, in Ireland. Nah, Crotty takes the wraps for that."

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