Every one of Schmidt’s 15 knows how to beat All Blacks

Joe Schmidt will ask his team of All Blacks slayers to do it all over again this Saturday as Ireland attempt to win a World Cup quarter-final for the first time in their history.

Every one of Schmidt’s 15 knows how to beat All Blacks

Joe Schmidt will ask his team of All Blacks slayers to do it all over again this Saturday (kick-off 11.15am Irish time) as Ireland attempt to win a World Cup quarter-final for the first time in their history.

The head coach this morning named an experienced starting line-up which to a man has tasted victory over the defending back-to-back champions, either in November 2016 in Chicago or 11 months ago in Dublin.

Their next mission is to repeat the trick on the biggest stage of all, a World Cup knockout game.

The respective pedigrees of the teams suggest a mismatch, New Zealand having not lost a World Cup game since their quarter-final exit in 2007 while Ireland have never won a knockout game in nine visits to the tournament, with the record showing six last-eight defeats.

Yet this is a starting XV, subject to confirmation at today’s official team announcement in Tokyo when Schmidt will also name his replacements’ bench, that knows how to get the job done.

There are three changes from the team which started against Samoa in Fukuoka last Saturday with the Ireland management restoring Rob Kearney at full-back for his 95th cap at the expense of Jordan Larmour.

Kearney missed out last weekend after failing to train fully in the previous week having reported a groin problem following the win over Russia.

In his place, Larmour excelled with a try-scoring, man of the match-winning performance in the 47-5 victory over the Samoans, though Kearney’s vast experience is complemented by a return to attacking form himself, the 33-year-old having scored tries in each of his last three starts, against Wales in pre-season, Japan and Russia, ending a drought stretching back to the 2015 World Cup.

The other change to the backline sees Ireland make adjustments in midfield following the three-week suspension imposed on Bundee Aki following his red card for a high tackle on Samoa fly-half Ulupano Seuteni.

Robbie Henshaw, who played his first game of the tournament in the win over Samoa following his recovery from a hamstring injury, switches from outside to inside centre to cover Aki’s role with Garry Ringrose taking the number 13 jersey back having been rested against the Samoans after playing three consecutive 80-minute matches in the pool stages.

The final alteration comes at blindside flanker where Peter O’Mahony returns in place of Munster team-mate Tadhg Beirne.

O’Mahony was a second-half replacement against Samoa and is now set for his first quarter-final appearance having missed the 2015 tie against Argentina following a serious knee injury suffered in the final pool win over France.

Of this starting XV, only Henshaw and scrum-half Conor Murray were missing through injury from the team which started the 16-9 win over the All Blacks last November.

In restoring Kearney ahead of Larmour, O’Mahony instead of a form horse such as Rhys Ruddock, and opting for Ringrose over Chris Farrell in midfield, Schmidt and his coaches have backed their selections’ experience and credit in the bank over strong recent performances.

“I think that’s what you’d like to think, that you get a balance,” forwards coach Simon Easterby said on Tuesday of such selection decisions.

A World Cup is a lot about form. Very quickly it starts and very quickly it can be over.

"So we have to look at it and balance selection in experience but also in form at the time.

“It’s a short window to get things right and if you don’t get it quite right you can be on the way home. It’s great that we have so much to talk about selection.

"That maybe wasn’t the case four years ago when we had a terrific game but a very brutal game against France in the last group match and we were patching each other up for that quarter-final.

“This week is about selecting the best team that’s available that we believe is the right team to go out and perform and get a result against the All Blacks.

"With that will come a number of debates and quandaries about who is the best person in each position.”

Easterby also spoke about the midfield options available to Ireland in the absence of Aki.

“Robbie coming back to fitness was great timing. Garry and Chris Farrell — neither of those two played so they will be fresh as well.

"So in that respect we’re really fortunate that the medics and Robbie worked particularly hard to get him back up to speed and him getting through 80 minutes against the Samoans was great to see.”

Both the Ireland and New Zealand squads enjoyed rest days in Tokyo yesterday with Steve Hansen scheduled to name his matchday squad overnight at 4am Irish time, four hours in advance of Schmidt’s appearance in front of the media.

The Ireland squad enjoy a light moment during squad training in Arcs Urayasu Park, Aichi, ahead of their bid to shock world champions New Zealand on Saturday. Picture: Brendan Moran
The Ireland squad enjoy a light moment during squad training in Arcs Urayasu Park, Aichi, ahead of their bid to shock world champions New Zealand on Saturday. Picture: Brendan Moran

Team to face New Zealand

15 R Kearney (Leinster)

14 K Earls (Munster)

13 G Ringrose (Leinster)

12 R Henshaw (Leinster)

11 J Stockdale (Ulster)

10 J Sexton (Leinster)

9 C Murray (Munster)

1 C Healy (Leinster)

2 R Best (Ulster)(c)

3 T Furlong (Leinster)

4 I Henderson (Ulster)

5 James Ryan (Leinster)

6 P O’Mahony (Munster)

7 J van der Flier (Leinster)

8 CJ Stander (Munster)

Replacements:

16 Niall Scannell

17 Dave Kilcoyne

18 Andrew Porter

19 Tadhg Beirne

20 Rhys Ruddock

21 Luke McGrath

22 Joey Carbery

23 Jordan Larmour

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