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WATCH: Schmidt hopes Irish unity will help them shock All Blacks

Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is hoping that the togetherness of his squad will carry them through Saturday's World Cup quarter-final against the All Blacks (kick-off 11.15am).

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Schmidt's men go into the last-eight tie hoping to reach the semi-finals for the first time, however they will be underdogs against the defending world champions in Tokyo.

However, Ireland's record against the All Blacks has seen them win two of their last three meetings, and 19 of the 23 selected by Schmidt for Saturday's knockout clash have experience of defeating New Zealand.

Only replacements Niall Scannell, Dave Kilcoyne, Tadhg Beirne and Rhys Ruddock did not play in either of the two Ireland squads that have defeated the All Blacks in the past.

And the head coach is hoping that, plus the squad's other recent milestones, will provide them will enough confidence to set another one by reaching the last-four.

"One of the things is they have connected up very well, they've had some pretty successful experiences together. There are a number of those players within the side that have contributed to a fair bit of history for us," says Schmidt.

"The first win over the All Blacks, the first time we won at home against the All Blacks, a few other milestones along the way. A few of the players selected were in Australia, were in South Africa the summer before when we won in Cape Town.

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"The accumulation of those experiences together hopefully builds a bit of confidence because you have to have belief. You can't go out against an All Blacks side and accept that you are second fiddle.

"You have to go out and put your best foot forward, and we hope this 23 will be committed to doing that."

However, achieving those milestones also works as a double-edged sword. Ireland no longer have the advantage over New Zealand of being able to shock them - that's now in the past.

"I think the unfortunate thing about any 23 that comes up against the All Blacks is they can play very well and still not get the result. That's the quality the All Blacks have, that's the athletes that they possess," adds Schmidt.

"We're not going to sneak up on them anymore. We're not going to surprise them. They're well aware of how we play and what they're going to do to combat that, what they're going to put in their armoury to make sure that we're chasing them about."

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