All Blacks confident they can match level of Ireland, Springboks

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New Zealand return to their training camp in Lyon this week after spending a week off on the west coast of France but, like the rest of the rugby world, they did not miss the World Cup clash between Ireland and South Africa at the weekend.

The Irish won the epic Pool B match at Stade de France but the quality of the contest did nothing to dispel the commonly-held belief that they and the World Cup holders are the best two teams in the tournament.

All Blacks defence coach Scott McLeod said he personally had been most impressed with the performance of both teams at the breakdown given the speed of the contest.

“They were very clean and accurate, there was no infringing around that area,” he told reporters on Monday.

“And that’s a bloody hard thing to do at speed, with those collisions and bodies flying everywhere and both teams did that very, very well.”

New Zealand have had their disciplinary issues this year and accuracy will undoubtedly be a focus of training before their next Pool A clash against Italy in Lyon on Friday.

McLeod said the All Blacks been “buzzing” after watching the match and he was confident they would be able to play to a similar standard when the time came. “We tested that a little bit last week,” he added.

“We got into each other and today we trained at pace. “And we are just trying to keep healthy. So, we are trying to balance that, between healthy athletes and training at that intensity and speed.”

Flanker Dalton Papalii admitted that some of the training sessions had got a bit heated and said the All Blacks were just desperate to get out and show what they could do.

“We know what the standard is now,” he said. “If you want to play with the best you’ve got to play at that level. We’ve shown glimpses throughout the year and this is where you need to do it.”

Ireland are potential quarter-final opponents for the All Blacks but McLeod would not be drawn into looking beyond the Italy game. “I have rats and possums on my property … I know what a trap looks like, I know what it smells like and that to me is a trap right there,” he said.

“We deal with what is in front of us. Italy are a very good side and if we look too far ahead or start thinking about others, we will come undone.”