Rugby World Cup: All Blacks hoping for quarter-final payback over Ireland after lost domestic series

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett hints his teammates would treasure a chance to face world No.1 Ireland at the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals next week.

New Zealand finally secured their spot in the tournament knockout stages with victory over Uruguay on Friday (NZ time) and had to settle for second in their pool, after hosts France overwhelmed Italy 24 hours later.

How they cross over with Pool B will become apparent, when the Irish face Scotland on Sunday morning, when victory would propel the Shamrocks into a sudden-death blockbuster against the All Blacks.

Ireland celebrate test victory over the All Blacks.
Ireland celebrate test victory over the All Blacks. Photo credit: Photosport

The developing rivalry between these two teams has seen Ireland win three of their last four encounters, including a historic series victory in New Zealand last July. That result began a few weeks of instense pressure on the All Blacks programme, with coach Ian Foster barely surviving in his role.

Clearly, these Kiwis don't forget or forgive easily.

"We learnt a lot during that series," admitted Barrett. "It was a challenging time - some of the most challenging times we've faced as an All Black team and personally, losing a serious in our backyard.

"We know the beast that Ireland are, and if you allow them to dictate up front and play the way they want to, they're a tough team to stop.

"If it's Ireland in the quarter-finals, it's going to be great, because a lot of us are pretty keen to get one up on them. We're still hurting from what happened last year."

Losses to Ireland were followed by a toothless performance against South Africa and while Foster saved his job with an incredible bounceback at Johannesburg, the NZ team suffered another setback, when they lost to Argentina for the first time on home soil at Christchurch.

While the head coach remained, he lost two assistants, with former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and Crusaders forwards guru Jason Ryan replacing Brad Mooar and John Plumtree. 

"There's memories there and the game's changed somewhat since that," offered Barrett. "It's all on the day - who turns up on the day.

"We learnt that in the semi-final last World Cup. We've just got to be able to maintain that intensity for three test matches, when it comes to knockout rugby.

"We're not looking past this quarter-final. It's our final and if it's against Ireland, the No.1 team, that's exactly how we want it."

At this stage of the tournament, the All Blacks have a big advantage over Ireland, who have no experience in winning a quarter-final. Seven times they have progressed to the last eight, only to fall at the first hurdle - including a 46-14 to New Zealand four years ago.

Barrett has been here twice before and seems relaxed, but focused on what the next week holds in store.

Beauden Barrett in action against Uruguay.
Beauden Barrett in action against Uruguay. Photo credit: Photosport

"Come Sunday morning for us, whoever we're playing against, we're fully tuned into that and our preparation against who knows at this stage," he said. "It's a position we set out to be in - a quarter-finals - so we've done that.

"We've had to work hard for it in the last couple of weeks. playing knockout rugby. I guess the stakes are high, going into a quarter-final against a top-quality team, whoever it is.

"We enjoy these weeks. They really bring us together tighter as a team, because we all know what the opportunity is - and also the consequence."

Barrett shrugs off the pressure and insists his team won't need to make any mental shifts past poolplay.

"No, we expect it," he said. "As things intensify externally, we become tighter as a team and focus more on what's important, and that's controlling what we can and our preparation, and just enjoying these moments.

"It's exactly where we want to be, we've worked hard to get here, to earn this spot and we're going to have fun doing so as well."