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Ireland will be severely punished if focus levels drop, says Furlong


Warning shot: Tadhg Furlong wants to be on the front foot
Warning shot: Tadhg Furlong wants to be on the front foot
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland's Tadhg Furlong believes his side must take the game to the All Blacks in Saturday's World Cup quarter-final (11.15am kick-off).

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Joe Schmidt's side will meet the back-to-back champions at a World Cup for the first time since 1995 after Japan's win over Scotland ensured it would be the Brave Blossoms who topped Pool A.

And while drawing the favourites for the title at this relatively early stage is the price Ireland must pay for their own loss to the hosts, they have at least posed Steve Hansen's men more trouble than any other during this cycle.

Their first ever victory over the Kiwis came in Chicago's Soldier Field in 2016, while two years later they followed it up with a win on home soil.

In winning two of their last three against Saturday's opposition, Furlong believes there is a lesson to be taken into the quarters.

"They are so dangerous, you can't switch off at all," said the prop who scored in the win over Samoa on Saturday. "So it's just working really hard and 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.

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"It's the same in 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."

And while a win this weekend would require history to be made all over again - this time a first ever spot in the last-four - Furlong doesn't want the side to be caught up in the weight of what has gone before.

"I suppose you might get a bit of confidence from doing stuff teams hadn't done before but, at the same time, you don't get bogged down by it," added the 2017 Test Lion.

"There's a process we go through to get ready for a game, no matter the occasion or the game, you try to stick to it to try to prepare as well as you can.

"The player group, the coaching staff, knowing the work that the coaches do behind the scenes in terms of analysing the opposition and the clarity we get from that as a player group, knowing the lads you play with and the work they do, their want to succeed and do well.

"I suppose the other part of it is the quality of player we have within the group. We have some world-class players and it's about backing that. It's about playing your game, not going into your shell because of the occasion."

Meanwhile, the IRFU have reacted angrily to claims in a Sunday newspaper that they wanted to see yesterday's Japan v Scotland clash cancelled.

The game had been under threat from Typhoon Hagibis, the storm now believed to have taken at least 16 lives, right up until the hours before kick-off and an early cancellation would have meant Ireland needed only a point rather than five from their clash with Samoa to book their place in the last-eight.

"Referring to The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) being 'vehemently opposed' to any rearrangement of the Scotland v Japan fixture is completely false and the inference within the article that the IRFU made representations to World Rugby on the matter is totally without foundation," read a statement.

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