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World ranking is not All Blacks' priority, insists Foster

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster (David Davies/PA)
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster (David Davies/PA)

By Cian Tracey

The All Blacks have brushed off any suggestion that they are concerned to be starting a World Cup campaign having been knocked off the top of the world rankings, but assistant coach Ian Foster acknowledged the work that Ireland have done to climb the ladder.

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Joe Schmidt's men will begin the tournament as the No.1 ranked team in the world and, while it would be naive to read too much into that, it is unquestionably a reflection of the work that Ireland have done over the last couple of years.

The No.1 and No.2 ranked teams could end up meeting each other in a potential quarter-final clash in Japan, but New Zealand insist that the rankings don't mean much to them unless they finish the tournament on top.

"I don't think it makes the slightest bit of difference to us quite frankly," insisted Foster, whose side will take on the Springboks on Saturday in what promises to be a mouthwatering opening encounter.

"Regardless of a ranking, we have got our expectations that are pretty high and that's what we want to live up to. It probably makes a bit of a difference to some other teams that you are asking those sort of questions, which is good.

"There are a lot of teams that deserve the right to be considered as contenders and it's going make it a really interesting World Cup."

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