Ireland have no reason to fear the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter finals, according to Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll.
Having beaten all comers in the pool stages, Ireland topped Group B and will face New Zealand in their quarter final on Saturday afternoon.
Famously the biggest hurdle for Irish rugby, the quarter final stage carries with it an innate fear for many Irish supporters. However, facing the might of the All Blacks gives many deja vu of 2019, when New Zealand beat Ireland 46-14.
The difference this time around, though, is that Ireland are World Number one, are unbeaten in 16 matches, and for the first time in their rivalry, enter the game as the bookies' favourites.
While there will be an element of seeking revenge in New Zealand, after Ireland won the series in New Zealand last year, the Irish will be bouyed by the knowledge that they have beaten the All Blacks more often than not in recent meetings.
Ireland won't fear New Zealand
Speaking on Off The Ball, Brian O'Driscoll explained why he had a fear of the All Blacks that this current side does not have.
"It's funny, because I said before that I was actually hoping for France more than the All Blacks in a quarter final," O'Driscoll said. "Maybe I got that wrong.
"Maybe it was because I obviously didn't have any success against the All Blacks. I think these guys think differently. No, they're not [the 'Mighty All Blacks'].
"They feel, 'okay, they're just 15 guys'. It's just 15 on 15, and who's better in those individual positions. I think a lot our guys would back themselves to have the lion's share of individuals in a selection of the two teams.
"So, if you're looking at it that way, there's no reason to be scared of fearful."
While Ireland have beaten top teams like New Zealand when not much has been on the line (notwithstanding a series win in New Zealand), they have not crossed the threshold into a semi final of the World Cup.
For O'Driscoll, this is 'what's next' for this Irish side.
"It's the next thing to do," O'Driscoll said. "Beating them in a series down there is phenomenal, so few teams have done that. It does feel it's just one more marker to beat them in a World Cup.
"They've been a World Cup team. Either winners, World Cup finalists or shock semi final or quarter final exits.
"So, there's a very healthy respect for them, and the realisation of what's coming, but based on what's been done this World Cup and this past year, if [Ireland] can achieve last weekend's standards, I think they will cause big, big problems for the All Blacks."
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