Opinion: All Blacks player ratings for Rugby World Cup quarter-final win over Ireland

OPINION: What a difference a year makes. 

The All Blacks saved their best performance in years for one of the biggest challenges they've faced on the test stage, stepping up with a heroic defensive effort to propel them to a semi-final many believed they weren't capable of making and washing out the bitter taste of last year's home test series defeat to the Irish with a triumph for the ages. 

So, which of the All Blacks stood up at Paris or, perhaps more tellingly, who didn't?

Spoiler alert: nobody. 

1-Ethan de Groot 8 

Southland's finest was one part of the Voltron that was the All Blacks' imperious front row, finally reformed and ready to save the world (the All Blacks). His fascinating duel with Furlong provided the crucial cornerstone in some high-pressure scrums.

Raised the NZ pack to the next level in a thorough redemption for his suspension earlier in the tournament. 

2-Codie Taylor 7 

Put his lineout throws on the button and his head down in the tight, getting through a mountain of defensive work and helping slow the Irish ruck. Brutal late yellow card put a dampener on his outing. 

Brodie Retallick.
Brodie Retallick. Photo credit: Getty Images

3-Tyrel Lomax 8 

Proved why there was so much consternation about his availability, as an essential piece of the puzzle. Tackled relentlessly, and provided an intermediary pass or three for his backline.

Juiced the NZ maul and turned the scrum into a weapon for the New Zealanders.

4-Brodie Retallick 8 

The big Guzzler wasn't ready to farewell the black jersey just yet. Menace in the opposition lineouts, including one key intervention in early close range attacking lineout.

Huge steal with All Blacks scrambling on their own line early. One of the best showings from one of the best All Blacks locks ever. 

5-Scott Barrett 7 

Behemoth defensively, particularly around the edges of the rucks. Relatively scarcely sighted on the other side of the pill, but an integral piece of the cause. 

6-Shannon Frizell 7 

The rugged right shoulder was firing all evening in the tackle. Industrious with the ball, although struggled to breach the gainline consistently.

Excellent at lineout time. 

7-Sam Cane 9 

A masterpiece of a captain's knock. The steely gameface in the tunnel translated to the pitch, where the oft-maligned flanker put forth his best test in black - and what a time to do it. 

His tackling radar was set to lock, with some merciless hits en route to a game-high 21 tackles. Over the the Irish rucks like the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Added a couple of moments with ball in hand. Statement officially made. 

Barrett brothers celebrate victory.
Barrett brothers celebrate victory. Photo credit: Getty Images

8-Ardie Savea 9 

Video Game Ardie was everywhere, piston-like quads primed and pumping right from the opening whistle. Showed every facet of his skillset in a reminder to the rest of the world who the best No.8 in France is, even providing an interjection with the boot to clear an attacking raid. 

Watene-Zelezniak-esque finish in the corner for the second NZ try. Clutch defensive turnovers.

He's almost unfair. 

9-Aaron Smith 7 

Characteristically snappy from the 122-test veteran, but one major - albeit unfortunate - blight with his yellow-card offence for knocking down a pass that led directly to a try for his Irish counterpart.

Bounced back in the manner you'd expect, with sparkplug impact to play 70 minutes, with his veteran guidance rising to the fore to help steer the ship home.

10-Richie Mo'unga 8 

Provided a seminal moment of the match, when he exploded off the mark to cut the defence open and set Jordan on sail to the chalk. Warmed to his work after some early wobbles.

Chip kick on a dime for Savea, with flat and accurate passing affording invaluable extra centimetres for his backline. Kept the irish line guessing with his variety, running 85 metres with ball in hand. 

Sam Cane with another huge tackle
Sam Cane with another huge tackle Photo credit: Getty Images

11-Leicester Fainga'anuku 8 

Stepped up to the plate in place of Mark Telea and provided the kind of horsepower they needed on the fringes, proving his worth early, with a clinically executed one-two for the first try. Impressive in the air.

Was Telea's curfew break a blessing in disguise? I'm not sure I'd go quite that far - but the Mako was probably the right horse for this course.

12-Jordie Barrett 9 

His defensive play to deny Ireland a try from the lineout maul late will go down in All Blacks folklore, indicative of a robust defensive performance against the heavyweight Irish midfield, backed by some key moments on attack.

Dialled in off the kicking tee from length and width, highlighted by one huge sideline conversion. Delayed passes expertly alll day to give his outsides the space they needed.

Part of a midfield for the future. 

13-Rieko Ioane 7 

Slick assist for Leicester Fainga'anuku's try. Glaring tackle miss for Bundee Aki's try, but quickly redeemed himself with perfect laser pass to give Savea the extra milliseconds he needed to score NZ's second try in the corner.

Otherwise sturdy defensively. Part of a midfield tandem for the future, as his combo with Barrett improves by the game. 

Riche Mo'unga breaks.
Riche Mo'unga breaks. Photo credit: Getty Images

14-Will Jordan 8 

Say it with me now - there's no substitute for pace. Ever-present on the support lines, highlighted by his breakneck try, as he outpaced a futile Irish pursuit.

Enormous 50/22 to set the platform for the All Black's second try. Interjected at opportune times and always took the right option.

Oozes class. 

15-Beauden Barrett 8 

Rub your eyes hard enough and you may have seen 2015 Beauden at Twickenham. Provided a moment of vintage magic to spark the All Blacks' opening try.

On the mark defensively with spot tackles, creating time for himself with some silky moments of skill. Ran the tirelessly and put his attacking bomb on the money.

Lead the NZ attack with 89 running metres. Ticked every box. 


16-Dane Coles 7 

17-Tamaiti Williams 7 

Stood up when a man down, ensured superb platform late to help his outsides get on the front foot late.

Massive prospect (quite literally). 

18-Fletcher Newell 7 

Combined with Williams to ensure the shorthanded NZ pack remained steadfast. Huge talent. 

19-Sam Whitelock 8 

THAT turnover to force Wane Barnes to blow his whistle for the final time. Couldn't have happened to a more deserving player. 

20-Dalton Papali'i 7 

Trademan late cameo.  

21-Finlay Christie N/A 

22-Damian McKenzie N/A 

23-Anton Lienert-Brown 7 

Came on with 15 to play and made a strong contribution to a mammoth late defensive effort. 

Stephen Foote is a Newshub online sports producer