FUKUOKA, 13 Oct - Past achievements against New Zealand and South Africa will count for little when Ireland take on one of the southern hemisphere giants in the quarter-finals of Rugby World Cup 2019 next weekend, says prop Tadhg Furlong.
The 26-year-old powerhouse, who scored a memorable try in the 47-5 win against Samoa on Saturday, above, has been part of Ireland teams that had wins between 2016 and 2018 against both their potential quarter-final opponents.
"I suppose you can draw a bit of confidence from that, but rugby evolves and it evolves quickly," he said on Sunday, after getting "four or five hours" sleep after Ireland’s impressive performance.
"We haven't played either team in a few years now really - or a year since New Zealand - but the game moves on, stuff changes, systems change. It gives us confidence that we have got results in the past but at the same time, it doesn't guarantee you anything. It doesn't mean they're going to rock up and play the same plan as before."
Furlong was a galvanising force for Ireland as they blew the Samoans away with four first-half tries, before being replaced four minutes after the interval.
“The most important thing is to recover, try to catch up on some sleep tonight and take it in," he said. "Whatever way it happens, as a front-five forward you know the challenge either team is going to lay down to you next weekend."
The Leinster player drew laughs when asked what he was thinking as he barrelled past four defenders for his own try. "Nothing," he replied. "It’s mad when you see stuff back and you’ve no clue as to when or how this happened.
"I suppose when you carry the ball, you just try to win that initial contact, keep your feet under you and keep pumping the legs - and you end up where you end up, really."
The one disappointment for Ireland was the red card shown to centre Bundee Aki for a high tackle that ended the participation of Samoan fly-half Ulupano Seuteni. Aki will appear before an independent Judicial Committee chaired by Adam Casselden SC (Australia) in Tokyo on Monday evening.
Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell said: "We haven't had the referee's report yet, so it’s very hard to comment.
"I feel sorry for everyone who gets a red card. I don’t know anyone playing the game now in world rugby that means to do anything that warrants a red card.
"It’s very tough to judge. You can slow everything down and everyone has a comment, 'Oh, what if this happened? What if that happened?’.”
Ireland have never advanced beyond the quarter-finals and while pleased with the execution of their gameplan against the Samoans, Farrell suggested they were moving into unknown territory, with the back-to-back champions or the in-form Springboks next up in Tokyo.
"It was a good performance by ourselves yesterday," he said. "Is that going to be good enough? Who knows? We don’t know. All you’ve got to do in a quarter-final is win.
"At the end of the day, the game takes its own course and you’ve got to manage the circumstances that you’re in at that moment in time."