All Blacks winger Richard Kahui in Christchurch this morning. Photo: AFP
CHRISTCHURCH: Any World Cup confidence among the big three southern teams -- New Zealand, Australia and South Africa -- has been knocked by Ireland's upset win over Australia, the All Blacks said Sunday.
Ireland's 15-6 win in a tryless match opened the way for a southern hemisphere - northern hemisphere final after pre-tournament predictions had centred on a New Zealand - Australia showdown.
"It just shows a little bit of arrogance we sometimes have in the southern hemisphere -- we think we're the best teams in the world -- and Ireland showed last night that's not the case," All Blacks wing Richard Kahui said.
"It just shows this World Cup is not a two-team competition as some people thought it was going to be. There's a lot of teams out there that can win it and that's good."
The All Blacks, who have spent more time as the World's top ranked team than all other countries combined, are no strangers to World Cup upsets having been knocked out of the past five editions.
Hooker Keven Mealamu, a member of the All Blacks failed 2003 and 2007 campaigns, said the Irish sent a timely message that there was no room to ease up especially in the forwards.
The 87-Test veteran was full of praise for the Irish pack who dominated the scrums and contact area to douse opportunities for the Wallabies attacking halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper.
"They really got into their work and got a lot of benefits from it," he said, agreeing with Kahui their performance showed the southern hemisphere teams they will have to do the basics right to win.
"It does. We still take a lot of pride in our scrum and it's good to see if you've got a dominant scrum then you'll hopefully get a good flow on from that."
The All Blacks, on a four-day goodwill mission in earthquake-striken Christchurch, said they could not afford to get distracted by Ireland's win and had to stay focussed on their next Pool A match against France on September 24.
"The important thing for us is that we just keep winning," said Kahui.
"If we don't win we don't make the semis anyway, so we've got to keep winning as we have a big game this weekend."
However, lock Sam Whitelock admitted that while France was the current target it was hard not to work out the significance of Ireland's victory.
"Everyone probably does it subconsciously, but we've got a big week this week and we're all excited about that.
"You're next game is always the most important and this week's no different so we've got to get this week out of the way, play really well and the rest will take care of itself."