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It’s either win or go home, says Angus Ta’avao of the All Blacks’ Rugby World Cup quarterfinal against Ireland.
OPINION:It’s that time again, when anxiety levels of All Blacks fans morph from a simmer to a bubbling pool of nerves.
Sudden-death World Cup matches have that effect on some folk, particularly when the opposition has had the wood on the men in black in recent years.
To think All Blacks fans’ pre-tournament planning anticipated the All Blacks playing Scotland in the quarterfinals, not heavyweights Ireland.
But Japan sweeping the floor with Ireland and Scotland and topping pool A sure gave rise to a brute of a twist, one which has many Kiwis on edge ahead of the big clash in Tokyo.
Here are five burning questions ahead of the second of four quarterfinals.
* Lifetime of misery if ABs lose
* Haka ‘insulting’, but Irish will lose
* Are Japan the new tier one team?
* Kiwi coaches leading way at RWC
* ABs great fears England meeting
* Ireland’s tactics to down All Blacks
* Only three ABs in RWC form team
1. Will rust doom the All Blacks?
Forget about head coach Steve Hansen sugar-coating the cancellation of the All Blacks’ final pool game last week.
The cold, hard truth is two weeks will have passed since the All Blacks played a match by the time referee Nigel Owens whistles open the quarterfinal at Tokyo Stadium.
And that training run against Namibia was preceded by a walk in the park against Canada, meaning it will be two days short of a month since their last serious test – their opening 23-13 win against the Springboks.
Fear not, was Hansen’s message after Typhoon Hagibis forced World Rugby to scrap their match against Six Nations chumps Italy last Saturday.
The All Blacks instead held an intense inter-squad training session, which apparently matched a test match in some aspects.
“It has allowed us to work really hard Friday, our GPS numbers were the equivalent, or just above what a normal test match would be,” he said.
Fair enough. But you can’t go past match fitness, particularly when lock Brodi
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