All Blacks look towards secret weapon if they face Ireland in World Cup quarters

All Blacks look towards secret weapon if they face Ireland in World Cup quarters

All Blacks assistant coach Joe Schmidt has emerged as a potential secret weapon if they face Ireland in the quarter-finals of this year's Rugby World Cup.

Ireland's win over South Africa last weekend means they are likely to finish in first place in pool B, which should set up a meeting with the All Blacks, who are equally likely to finish second in Pool A after their defeat to World Cup hosts France in the tournament opener.

Fifty-eight-year-old Schmidt has been part of the All Blacks' coaching staff for more than a year after answering their SOS ahead of their three-Test series against Ireland in New Zealand in 2022.

The New Zealander is renowned for his stint as Ireland's head coach between 2013 and 2019 when, under his guidance, the men from the Emerald Isle won 55 out of 77 Tests and suffered a meagre 21 losses and registered one draw.

During that time Ireland won three Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam and guided the Irish to their first victory over the All Blacks in 2016 - a feat they repeated in 2018 as well.

Ireland have improved considerably since Schmidt stepped down from his position as head coach following a 46-14 loss to New Zealand in the quarter-finals of the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Under the guidance of his successor, Andy Farrell, the Irish are currently on a 16-match winning streak and the number one ranked team in the world but there is no doubt that Schmidt laid the groundwork for the team's current success.

If Ireland and New Zealand are to face off in the quarter-finals, the Irish will be favourites as they have been victorious in three of the four matches played against the All Blacks since the 2019 World Cup.

New Zealand's only win came in the first Test of that three-Test series when Schmidt stood in for All Blacks head coach Ian Foster, who was battling Covid-19 at the time.

Since then, Schmidt has been one of Foster's assistants and his work as the team's attack coach has helped them to win 12 out of 15 Tests played during that period.

If New Zealand are to meet Ireland in the quarter-final, Schmidt's inside knowledge of the Irish could play a big part in plotting his former team's downfall.

Schmidt's influence on the team's impressive turnaround - since that series loss to Ireland and a poor start to the 2022 Rugby Championship campaign - is greatly appreciated by the All Blacks players.

"Joe's put in a lot of work for us," winger Mark Telea told Newshub. "Our backs, our forwards, he always helps us a lot.

"All those little details that other teams or players miss, he's massive. I always say Joe knows more than other coaches.

"When he talks about information, he knows a lot of information. If you have a conversation with him, he'll probably know your name more than you.

"He's a buzzy man to get around. He could probably ref the game if he wanted to."

Meanwhile, back-row Dalton Papali'i echoed Telea's sentiments and described Schmidt as among the greatest of all time (GOAT).

Telea and Papali'i have worked with Schmidt for both club and country as he was also part of Leon MacDonald's backroom staff in 2021 and he helped the Auckland-based club to victory in the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition.

"He's the GOAT, one of the GOATs in the coaching world," said Papali'i. "He has a lot of knowledge of the game.

"For me and Mark, when he came into [the Blues] last year, he was a real difference maker.

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