Accuracy, execution key for All Blacks

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That's especially important with the emphasis that has gone on high tackles during the tournament, something Ireland suffered for with the loss of second five-eighths Bundee Aki during their last game against Samoa.

 

The All Blacks suffered two yellow card to props Nepo Laulala and Ofa Tuungafasi in their win over Namibia

 

Assistant coach Ian Foster (pictured) said: "We're working hard on just preparing ourselves. We've had a week off in terms of game time and the guys are really excited about it."

 

The focus had been on being technically as good as they can possibly be in the areas they could control and then if they do go down a man, as they did in the Namibia game, they react accordingly depending on the position of that player.

 

"This is the type of week we have been preparing for, for a long, long time and we simulate it. We have a lot of big Tests when we know everyone comes for us every time we play but this is where you really test yourself against a great team on the big stage."

 

The comparison ahead of the quarterfinal against France four years ago in England was different in terms of players and coaches.

 

"They're a smart rugby team, they've proven that and people can say what they like about their attacking style and their defensive style but they're efficient and they do it well and that's what makes it exciting for us. We're playing a team that knows how to play and what greater challenge could you have," he said.

 

Foster downplayed the loss of Aki to Ireland's plan.

 

"They've got some great midfielders and he's one of them. They've got [Robbie] Henshaw and [Garry] Ringrose, they've got a number of really good players and their role definition is pretty strong, so whoever plays there is going to play well.

 

"They've got some weapons to their arsenal and it's like any other game, so we'll work on our high ball catches as we would for any team that's going to kick it there but clearly that's something that's worked well for them and we've just got to make sure we're really proficient in that area and we're working hard in that area."

 

Foster said one of the exciting aspects of the playoffs end of the tournament was where teams went when they were under pressure. The All Blacks wanted to be able to continue to play the pictures the players saw and trust them to execute and make decisions.

 

"Sometimes pressure can do funny things to people and you can eliminate all the risk out of your game," he said.

 

"That's the balance, that's the exciting part about knockout, it's about getting your players really clear if you see pictures are they allowed to execute? Yes they are and that's certainly something we want to continue doing on our behalf," he said.

 

Ireland were a high retention team who liked to hold the ball but they would use the kick when they felt they were under pressure or they sensed weakness.

 

"We're not expecting a barrage of kicking. We're expecting a team that will want to hold the ball and a lot of rucks and a lot of tackles, so that's their style and we've just got to prepare for what we see on Saturday and go and do what we need to do."

 

Foster felt that Ireland's efforts in scoring a big win over Scotland and beating Samoa with 14 men would be a boost for them and they would be primed and ready for the All Blacks.

 

"How you use the past is interesting. You gather information from last wins and losses but really it's about not going in with too many assumptions and seeing what turns up and reacting accordingly.

 

"They're a quality team, we know that and they're very experienced, but so are we and we've just got to go in and play with the cards we've been dealt with this week and get excited about that," he said.

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