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Ireland can't rely on Typhoon Hagibis to secure World Cup quarter-final spot: Best


Rory Best
Rory Best
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland skipper Rory Best has warned that his side can't concern themselves with Typhoon Hagibis and the ensuing chaos that could wreak havoc with the World Cup's legacy.

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England v France and Italy v New Zealand have already been cancelled and, while neither were set to change the quarter-final line-up barring an exceptional upset from the Azzurri, Japan v Scotland on Sunday remains under threat.

Should the super typhoon render the Yokohama Stadium unsafe come Sunday morning, seemingly the hosts would go through and Gregor Townsend's men would be out without the chance to earn themselves a quarter-final place on the pitch.

For Ireland's part, their clash with Samoa coming before any decision on that game (11.45am tomorrow) renders their picture unchanged.

A bonus-point win is still required to guarantee a spot in the last eight, even if one match-point in defeat would do the job should the final game of the pools ultimately take place.

"It's more frustrating for the English, French, New Zealanders and Italians at the minute," said Best, opting for a wait and see approach. "Scotland- Japan, there's no decision on it and from our point of view, that makes it easier because we go out, we play our game."

Best added: “You assume the game goes ahead on Sunday and if it doesn’t you cross that bridge when you come to it. It’s incredibly frustrating — players playing potentially their last World Cup game, potentially their last ever game for their country — being denied that opportunity but at the same time I’m sure decisions weren’t necessarily taken lightly.”

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Acknowledging that the well-being of players and supporters must be paramount, Best would not be drawn on what an essentially default quarter-finalist would mean for Asia’s first ever World Cup and its place in history.

“Ultimately, safety has to be paramount and that has to come first,” said the retiring Ulsterman. “I can’t really comment much on it until the dust settles. We’re here at a press conference ahead of a Samoa game and we know we’re going to play that game.

“We also know what we have to do to get to a quarter-final regardless of what happens on Sunday.

“Ultimately, for us, all we’re focusing on is the Samoa game. If we get to the final whistle and we get a performance and a result then we’ll look at what’s happening.

“I suppose we’ll talk about legacies after that. For us it’s about making sure we get to a quarter-final.”

On the matter of the Samoans, Best believes the side can take confidence from the more positive aspects of an uneven pool stage so far for the side who came into the World Cup ranked as the best side on the planet.

Having dismantled Scotland to begin, a shock reverse to Japan was backed up only with an unconvincing win over lowly Russia nine days ago.

“The biggest thing you want is to know it’s in your control,” he said. “When we look back on the Russia and Japan games, the bits we did well were very typical of us and the bits we didn’t do well we actually had set them up and we didn’t follow through with some of the fundamentals that we do really well when we’re on top of our game. When you look at that, you take confidence you’re in a good place but you just need to execute better.

“We’ve had a proper normal week in training and a captains run. You take a bit of confidence from that as well because you get a little bit more time to get through a few things.

“It’s more about executing it on the pitch rather than having to take it in through a meeting or walk-through. That gives you confidence in the people around you.”

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