Ireland's past victories over All Blacks will count for nothing in do-or-die clash, says Healy
For all the talk of Chicago in 2016 and Dublin last year, Cian Healy is putting little stock in the notion that there is confidence to be found from the problems Ireland have posed the back-to-back World Cup winners during this past cycle.
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As much as those two unforgettable days are already long etched into Irish lore, this tournament has its own history, its own unique set of challenges.
"It’s going to be a different kettle of fish at a World Cup," said the loosehead. "They’ve gone the whole way a couple of times (three) and we haven’t, so it’s a huge challenge to us and we’re looking forward to it.
"I don't look back on any of them (past experiences against Saturday's opponents), they’re gone for me now and none of them have been at a World Cup, so they don’t matter an awful lot."
Echoing the sentiment of his out-half Johnny Sexton yesterday, Healy noted that this chance to reach a first ever semi-final, against the All Blacks of all teams, makes this the biggest game of even the most successful careers.
"Definitely, it's a do or die game," he said. "I think everyone understands that and knows the position we are in and the opportunity of what we have to do.
"It is not a case of looking to get people to buy in. Everyone wants in. Everyone is trying to get in.
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"That’s going to cause big challenges for the coaches, to pick that team, because everyone has put their hand up.
"Everyone wants to be involved.”
This will be Healy's tenth involvement against the All Blacks. Although two of those came from the bench - both in 2016 - on eight of the other nine occasions the All Blacks starting tighthead has been Owen Franks. That will not be the case this time around, the two-time World Cup winner having been the headline-grabbing selection call when Steve Hansen pared his panel down to 31 names. Instead, the number three jersey seems likely to go to the relatively fresh face of Nepo Laulala who would be making a 15th Test start.
"They have such a good pool of players to choose from they’re dangerous and they’re going to pose threats so you’ve got to give due respect to whoever it is on the day," said Healy.
"You have your detail work done and know them inside out before you go out against them. If you were to think that any of them are lesser than the other, you’re putting yourself into a dangerous position.
"Scrum-wise, I think you just have to be smart about it, because they’re quite a tactical, clever scrum. So it’s hard to drill for, but you have to be ready for everything.
"Their lineout is very dangerous and they’re very quick with it, so we’re drilling hard on that – how to defend that and then how to go at it ourselves."
Just as New Zealand sent Joe Moody and Matt Todd to face the media in their Tokyo base today, Healy was sat beside Andrew Porter as he fielded questions. The importance of the battle up front not lost on anyone even with such an array of backline talent set to be on show.
"We have such talent outside of us it would be a sin not to give them a good platform to play off," Healy added.
"That’s where we get most of our pressure from, from nine and ten (Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton) barking at us if we don’t get our scrum and lineout right. We want to do that and put the team on the best platform.
"If it means keeping the ball in the scrum and get a penalty, do it that way, or have a solid scrum, and get the ball out and let them play we’ll do it that way.”
Against the All Blacks, on this stage, such are the bare minimums.
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