Jacob Stockdale: Ireland are going into New Zealand showdown with a 'massive positive' behind them
Ireland's Jacob Stockdale believes their recent record against the most fearsome side in rugby can only be a "massive positive" after being handed the World Cup quarter-final assignment nobody wanted.
Rugby round up Newsletter
Joe Schmidt's men will meet New Zealand in the last eight, taking on the All Blacks in Tokyo on Saturday, after Japan consigned them to second place in the group with yesterday's incredible 28-21 win over Scotland.
Steve Hansen's All Blacks haven't lost a World Cup match since 2007, although Saturday's 'draw' with Italy in a postponement due to Typhoon Hagibis technically ended their 17-game winning run at the tournament.
And while Ireland went through the first 111 years of matches between the sides without tasting victory, they've now won two of the last three.
Stockdale had yet to make his debut for the first, in Soldier Field in 2016, but was the try-scoring hero in Dublin a little under a year ago.
The Ulster wing is not getting ahead of himself but believes the men in green can approach the game in a more confident mindset.
"Obviously having gotten over that hump of being able to beat them in Chicago and then back in Dublin, it's a massive positive," he said. "But this is a World Cup, anything can happen. New Zealand have been going very well so it'll be interesting to see.
Please log in or register with belfasttelegraph.co.uk for free access to this article.
"It's about getting the recovery. They're going to be well rested and for us it's going to be making sure that we're back on the pitch on Tuesday, doing everything we can to be as fresh as possible."
Ireland were much improved in beating Samoa 47-5 on Saturday, finally putting the surprise pool loss to Japan behind them and even overcoming a first-half red card for centre Bundee Aki.
The fear for Ireland now is that a disciplinary panel could rule him out of the quarter-final.
Stockdale, who was the victim of a high tackle in the first-half that brought a yellow card for Seilala Lam, felt his team-mate was unfortunate to be dismissed for making contact with the head of Ulupano Seuteni.
“I was checking my teeth when I got up but they’re all there,” he laughed of his own collision.
“I thought there wasn’t an awful lot of difference between Bundee’s tackle and the tackle on me.
“That’s not a comment on anyone’s technique or anything like that, it’s more on the inconsistency between cards that we’ve seen in this World Cup. It’s disappointing for Bundee but he’ll bounce back.”
Aki will face a hearing this morning to determine his World Cup fate, where a ban could rule him out for the rest of the tournament. Should it come to pass, Stockdale believes the Connacht man will be a big loss.
“Bundee’s was such a reactionary thing because the ball bounced and he was going from either carrying or making a tackle and he just was really unfortunate. That’s rugby.
“Obviously his robustness and his physicality is massive for us and if he wasn’t available, it would be a big loss.
“But we’ve a lot of very, very good centres. Chris Farrell, Garry (Ringrose), Robbie (Henshaw), there’s three class centres to pick from if Bundee doesn’t make it.”