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Ireland will play New Zealand in World Cup quarter-final

Tadhg Furlong in action against New Zealand
Tadhg Furlong in action against New Zealand

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland will face New Zealand in Tokyo next Saturday after Japan's 28-21 win over Scotland saw them top Pool A at their home World Cup.

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Saturday's 47-5 win over Samoa was enough to earn Joe Schmidt's side a place in the last eight, but their loss to the hosts in round two cost them an extra day's preparation and sets them up for the toughest quarter-final they have ever faced against the reigning world champions who are going for three in a row.

Japan will take on South Africa on Sunday in Tokyo, with England playing Australia on Saturday and Australia facing Wales on Sunday. Both of those games will be held in the southern city of Oita.

Ireland can draw on their 2016 and 2018 wins over Steve Hansen's men, while a large contingent of their starting XV were part of the Lions side that beat them in Wellington in 2017.

But prop Tadhg Furlong warned past experience will count for little between the white lines in Tokyo next week.

"I suppose you can draw a bit of confidence from that but rugby evolves and it evolves quickly," he said.

"We haven't played them in a year, the game moves on, stuff changes, systems change. It gives us confidence that we have got results in the past but at the same time, it doesn't guarantee you anything.

"It doesn't mean they're going to rock up and play the same plan as before."

Furlong was asked if there was a consistent thread running through the three wins and a draw he's enjoyed in his six meetings with the world champions.

"Hard work, really," he said.

"They are so dangerous, aren't they? You can't switch off.

"It's just working really hard, staying switched on mentally because they can make something out of nothing with some of the players they have.

"I suppose there's an element of just being physical, isn't there? It's the same any rugby game you play but as a front five forward, it's all about being as physical as you can and hopefully coming out on top."

Assistant coach Andy Farrell is not overly concerned about the loss of an extra day's preparation and said it will all come down to Ireland's performance on the day.

"We'll digest the review of the Samoa game first and we'll pick ourselves up and do some recovery stuff today but I don't think form really comes into it next week," he said.

"It was a good performance by ourselves yesterday.

"Is that going to be good enough? Who knows? We don't know. All you've got to do in a quarter-final is win.

"Of course form on the day matters, whether you carry that on from a year ago, six months ago or last week, it all becomes a little bit irrelevant in the end."

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