Japan's stunning Rugby World Cup upset over Ireland has left the All Blacks' quarter-final draw wide open, with any two of four teams still in the hunt to face the two-time defending champions.
The 'Brave Blossoms' enhanced their reputation for toppling the game's superpowers with their 19-12 victory on Saturday, throwing the tournaments Pool A into disarray.
After New Zealand accounted for South Africa in their opening game and Ireland dispatched Scotland, those four teams seemed on a collision course in the knockout phase, with the All Blacks eyeing the Scots.
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But Japan's success was thrown a cat among the pigeons.
"That pool is wide open," Newshub rugby editor Karl told The AM Show. "Ireland, Scotland, Samoa, Japan are the contenders for the two spots to come out of that pool.
"I still expect Ireland to top that pool. I think Japan could get toppled by Scotland or Samoa along the way, and Ireland will learn from what's just happened."
Japan rocked the 2015 World Cup with a pool win over South Africa, but still failed to progress to the quarter-finals, with losses to Scotland and the United States.
"But Ireland are now very much contenders, maybe now, to face the All Blacks in the quarter-final, which is sure to have a couple of New Zealand a little bit shaky, after the last few results against them."
After dominating the rivalry for more than a century, the All Blacks have lost two of their last three encounters with the Irish, falling 16-9 in Dublin last November.
The Pool A standings may become somewhat clearer on Monday night, when Scotland and Samoa meet.
Karl praised Japan's NZ coaching staff Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown for their win over and Irish team that had been ranked No.1 in the world, entering the tournament.
"They're two of the best coaches to come out of New Zealand," he told The AM Show. "'They did a wonderful job with the Highlanders.
"They're incredible at taking a group of players that aren't necessarily as talented as the rest - like the Highlanders were - and turn them into championship contenders."
Karl said the win had fired up an already-enthusiastic Japanese fan base around the event.
This story was created in partnership with Suzuki. Watch the video for the full interview.
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