All Blacks' Steve Hansen hails Ireland as best in world after defeat

They should be because they've been beaten 2-3 times since we played them - the Lions and South Africa and maybe Australia have beaten them in there in a Bledisloe Cup match as well - so that's enough by their standards since '16.

Schmidt went on to praise Josh van der Flier, who was called into the starting team late in the week.

Asked if Ireland are now World Cup favourites, Schmidt added: "The World Cup?"

There is no suggestion Tuesday's session contributed to Leavy's injury, but skipper Rory Best admitted the only way to prepare to face New Zealand was to "gear up" physically.

"It's always an achievement to beat the All Blacks", dead-panned Schmidt. "It's a nebulous thing for us".

All Blacks chief Hansen warned his side not to fall for any of Schmidt's special moves, but that's exactly what happened for Stockdale's winning score.

"We won't care about the performance [against New Zealand] if we get a result", O'Driscoll said.

"That is the mental state people take out of it so it is going to be a good one".

"That's just the nature of the game of rugby sometimes". The pair had just 30 combined caps but helped steer Ireland past the top team in the world.

Barrett quickly levelled the scoring again, this time with an effortless drop goal from distance, but Ireland continued to put the pressure on with 22-year-old lock James Ryan once more hugely impressive all over the park.

The absence of Murray, who plays a crucial role in Ireland's kicking game, has created an opportunity for Kieran Marmion to impress the Ireland coach, while 6ft 10in Devin Toner has replaced Iain Henderson in the second row ahead of the anticipated aerial contest this weekend.

"Whenever you have got somebody who is six inches taller than everyone else - if the throw is spot on and he's jumping with two lifters - it's almost impossible to stop him taking a banker ball every time and obviously he knows the options that they have inside out".

All Blacks boss Steve Hansen hailed Ireland as the "number-one team in the world" following their superlative victory over his back-to-back world champions at the Aviva Stadium.

"I can't wait to see the aerial battle with Sexton on [full-back Damian] McKenzie and getting the boys chasing him down. It was an incredibly collective and hard-earned win and I'm really proud of it".

"They are a very structured side, and in terms of how they hold onto the ball they are the best probably in terms of tier-one nations in the world", Read said.

  • Rosalie Stanley