• Reuters


Former All Blacks scrumhalf Justin Marshall screamed “what a pass” in his television commentary, while New Zealand and Irish media credited it with sparking “The Great Escape.”

Dane Coles pretends not to remember the pass at all.

“Which one was that again?” the All Blacks hooker asked with a wry grin on Tuesday, eyebrows raised quizzically.

“Oh, in Ireland. Nah, Crotty takes all the wraps for that.”

The pass is hard to forget — Coles, being tackled by two defenders, puts Ryan Crotty through to score in the dying minutes in Dublin to salvage a 24-22 win over Ireland in 2013.

While that victory preserved the All Blacks’ 108-year winning record against Ireland, the streak would end three years later.

Joe Schmidt’s team also beat the All Blacks last time out, meaning it has won two of its last three meetings with the world champions.

Coles, like his teammates and coaches in the buildup to the World Cup quarterfinal against Ireland in Tokyo on Saturday, have had little appetite to discuss the recent record against Schmidt’s side.

“For me, personally, it’s important we don’t look back,” the 32-year-old added. “What is important is that we are playing Ireland in a quarterfinal and looking at what we have to do.”

Coles added that showing up with the right mental attitude would be crucial if the All Blacks are to stay in the tournament.

“It’s very important that we do bring it this week,” he said. “It is up to the individual to go to the place (mentally) he needs to.

“If we don’t do that for a quarterfinal against Ireland, then it’s not on.

“I’m pretty sure the boys will go to that place they need to be to turn up with the intent and energy they need for Saturday.”

After a tough opening victory against South Africa, the All Blacks have cruised through their pool with a 63-0 win over Canada and 71-9 victory against Namibia before their clash against Italy was canceled due to Typhoon Hagibis.

Ireland, seeking a place in its first World Cup semifinal, will pose a completely different threat to what they have faced at the tournament, and the All Blacks had to ensure they took their scoring opportunities, said Coles.

“I think it’s very important that we take our chances. We are definitely not going to get given what we got given during pool play. We know that,” he said.

“We might only get one chance to pull it off and we have to make sure that we do that.”

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