TOKYO – Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has been used to making history in his six years in charge and he could make a little bit more on Saturday in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final against his native New Zealand.
The Irish have never advanced past the quarter-finals at the global showpiece, with the clash against the All Blacks at Tokyo Stadium that kicks off at 7.15 p.m. (1015 GMT) possibly their best chance to break that curse.
Their structured game plan under Schmidt has led to three Six Nations titles, their first series win in Australia in almost 40 years and, more importantly, their first two victories against the All Blacks - a 40-29 victory in 2016 in Chicago and then 16-9 last year in Dublin.
Both Schmidt and All Blacks coach Steve Hansen have said the recent results would have little influence on what happens on Saturday, but they have given the Irish players belief the three-times world champions were fallible.
“They have had some pretty successful experiences together. There are a number of players within that side who have contributed to a fair bit of history for us,” Schmidt told reporters.