In Review

Rugby World Cup quarter-final: New Zealand vs. Ireland preview, predictions, team news, starting XVs, UK time, TV

Johnny Sexton and Ireland face the ‘biggest game’ of their lives against the All Blacks in Tokyo

New Zealand vs. Ireland 

  • What: Rugby World Cup quarter-final  
  • When: Saturday 19 October  
  • Where: Tokyo Stadium, Tokyo, Japan  
  • UK start time: 11.15am  
  • TV coverage: live on ITV 

Johnny Sexton says Ireland will need to play the “game of our lives” if they are to beat two-time defending champions New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals on Saturday.

Sexton, the current rugby world player of the year, expects the “biggest challenge” of his career against the All Blacks in Tokyo.

He told The Irish Times: “Yeah, it’s the biggest challenge and it is the most exciting. We said it after the Samoa game: ‘Look lads, no matter who we play, this is the biggest game of our lives’. 

“You feel it straight away. You feel it when you wake up this morning and your mind goes straight to the game. So sleep will probably be a challenge this week.

“It’s where you want to be and it’s where you want to challenge yourself. It’s where we can create something a little bit special back in the country. 

“I am sure the country will go mad on Saturday morning, so I can’t wait for it.”

Schmidt opts for experience

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has picked an experienced team to take on the Kiwis. He has selected 12 of the starting XV that beat the All Blacks in Dublin last November. 

Rob Kearney starts at full-back and Peter O’Mahony will play at blindside flanker. Half-back pair Conor Murray and Sexton will start their 56th Test match together - beating the record set by Peter Stringer and Ronan O’Gara.

Rory Best will captain the Ireland team on his 124th appearance in green.

Ireland will not appeal the suspension handed to Bundee Aki, who was sent off in the final pool A match against Samoa, and Rob Herring has replaced the injured Seán Cronin in the World Cup squad.

Hansen excited for last-eight clash

New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen has selected the in-form Jack Goodhue and Anton Lienert-Brown at centre and captain Kieran Read returns to the side for his 125th Test match.

Hansen and his squad are looking forward to facing the Irish on Saturday. He said: “There’s a lot of energy and excitement in the team which is normal for this stage of the tournament where the winner takes all. It will add extra pressure to both sides. 

“We feel we’ve selected a great mixture of talent in our 23, who are in great form, and the squad includes many players who have a lot of Rugby World Cup knockout match experience. 

“Together with our experienced management team, that brings a deep understanding of what is needed to get the job done. 

“Past Rugby World Cup history is important because of the positive or negative experiences you’ve had. But ultimately it is what happens on the day that counts.”

How to watch on TV in the UK 

The second quarter-final of the weekend is live on ITV. Coverage of Saturday’s clash in Tokyo begins at 10.45am (UK time) and the match starts at 11.15am.

Saturday’s first quarter-final sees England face Australia (8.15am) then on Sunday it’s Wales vs. France (8.15am) and Japan vs. South Africa (11.15am).

RWC predictions: quarter-finals, tournament winners, betting odds

How the teams will line up in Tokyo 

New Zealand starting XV
  • 1. Joe Moody, 2. Codie Taylor, 3. Nepo Laulala, 4. Brodie Retallick, 5. Samuel Whitelock, 6. Ardie Savea, 7. Sam Cane, 8. Kieran Read (captain); 9. Aaron Smith, 10. Richie Mo’unga, 11. George Bridge, 12. Anton Lienert-Brown, 13. Jack Goodhue, 14. Sevu Reece, 15. Beauden Barrett 
  • Replacements: 16. Dane Coles, 17. Ofa Tuungafasi, 18. Angus Ta’avao, 19. Scott Barrett, 20. Matt Todd, 21. TJ Perenara, 22. Sonny Bill Williams, 23. Jordie Barrett
Ireland starting XV 
  • 1. Cian Healy, 2. Rory Best (captain), 3. Tadhg Furlong, 4. Iain Henderson, 5. James Ryan, 6. Peter O’Mahony, 7. Josh Van der Flier, 8. CJ Stander; 9. Conor Murray, 10. Johnny Sexton, 11. Jacob Stockdale, 12. Robbie Henshaw, 13. Garry Ringrose, 14. Keith Earls, 15. Rob Kearney  
  • Replacements: 16. Niall Scannell, 17. Dave Kilcoyne, 18. Andrew Porter, 19. Tadhg Beirne, 20. Rhys Ruddock, 21. Luke McGrath, 22. Joey Carbery, 23. Jordan Larmour

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Pundit predictions

Lawrence Dallaglio, The Ruck Podcast, The Times: Ireland to win

“The heart rules the head for me on this one. I’m going to predict a big upset and I reckon the Irish can produce something very, very special.”

The Daily Telegraph: New Zealand 26 Ireland 15

“The All Blacks have looked the best side at the Rugby World Cup and are expected to beat Ireland. The Irish side were excellent against Scotland but were undone by Japan. Despite getting the better of New Zealand in recent times, the All Blacks will make less mistakes than Ireland and be clinical in taking their chances. Prediction: New Zealand 26 Ireland 15.”

ESPN: New Zealand by ten points

“The All Blacks look as well-drilled and organised as you’d expect them to be and Ireland, who were upset by hosts Japan earlier this month, will likely find it hard to keep up. But can history repeat itself? Ireland have been a bogey team for the All Blacks in recent times, recording their only two victories over New Zealand in the past three contests in as many years.”

Gareth Jones, Sporting Life: New Zealand to win

“If Ireland win, and they can, it would be the first time they’ve ever reached the semi-finals, but this weight of history could be another indication that this will be the All Black’s day.”

Liam Hyslop, Stuff.co.nz: New Zealand by 15 points

“Ireland have won two of their last three against the All Blacks, but the men in black look in ominous form this tournament and should blow away an Ireland team which was simply overwhelmed by Japan in pool play. New Zealand by 15.”

Malik Ouzia, London Evening Standard: New Zealand 34 Ireland 17 

“Ireland’s recent success against New Zealand - their only two wins against the Kiwis have come in their last three meetings - should provide some cause for optimism, but it would be a huge shock if they could upset the winning machine here.”

The South African: New Zealand by 15 points

“The algorithm tips the All Blacks to come out tops… but by a mere 15 points.”

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For analysis of the biggest sport stories - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news - try The Week magazine. Get your first six issues for £6–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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