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Beating us on the World stage a new ball game: Coles

Watch out: Dane Coles had a warning shot for Ireland
Watch out: Dane Coles had a warning shot for Ireland

By Cian Tracey

The last time New Zealand lost a World Cup game was back in 2007. Just let that sink in.

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It means that, last week's 'draw' against Italy aside, the All Blacks have won their last 17 World Cup matches - an astonishing record that highlights just how difficult they are to beat.

That's certainly the message coming out of their camp during the first two media days of a week that is building nicely.

The All Blacks don't particularly like talking about anyone else other than themselves. Their aura is built around that kind of single-minded attitude and they aren't about to change now.

Ask any of the players or coaches about how the dynamic of the rivalry with Ireland has changed on the back of them being beaten in two of the last three meetings between the two teams, and the All Blacks will tell you the past counts for nothing.

And they are not wrong either. Ireland agree and as much as the fear factor of playing the best team in the world is no longer there, toppling them at a World Cup is a different beast.

France were the last team to manage it when they stunned New Zealand in the quarter-final on an unforgettable evening in Cardiff 12 years ago. What odds then on another northern hemisphere team repeating the trick in Tokyo this weekend?

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There may be a bit of nervous tension creeping in on the back of not getting to play their final pool game against Italy.

They will tell you that there isn't, yet there is no doubt that Steve Hansen would have preferred the run-out leading into a quarter-final against a team who have had their number.

Hooker Dane Coles said: "I hope it doesn't happen again. "For me personally, it's important that we don't look back. World Cups are different.

"They 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 in those previous occasions. They might take a lot of confidence out of it but we know we need to stay focused."

Part of the reason why New Zealand are so difficult to beat at the World Cup is that they are masters of peaking at just the right time. Ireland's two victories, in 2016 and last year, were both played in November, which is always at the end of the southern hemisphere season.

This year, however, like every other World Cup year, Sanzaar rearranged the Super Rugby season to give their teams the best chance possible in Japan. Not that the All Blacks are going to use that as a reason for coming up short against Ireland.

"That's probably an excuse if we think like that," Coles insisted.

"On the day, we were beaten by a better team. We are not making excuses for that.

"They might take confidence from it, they might not. They have obviously got a recipe to put us under pressure.

"We all know that being in a World Cup is very different. Both teams will make sure that their focus is on this week.

"I think it's definitely very important that we take our chances. We are definitely not going to get what we have been given during pool play. We know that. We know that on the field, we might only get one chance to pull it off."

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