All Blacks skipper Kieran Read has stressed the need for his team to step up mentally this week as they prepare for their Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Ireland.

The challenges have already come for them in Japan. The All Blacks have had to cope with a cancelled final pool game against Italy due to a typhoon which also severely limited their training time on Saturday – they spent the majority of the day in the team hotel playing cards, darts and watching movies – but now the weather has come right so too should their mental application go up a notch because there are no second chances.

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"This is the real deal right now for us," Read said. "This week if we don't perform we go home. That's the reality of it and that's the exciting part. The reason we're here is to give our ourselves a chance and this is week on in that quest.

"Mentally we're going to have to be a lot stronger and step up. There are always things that come with finals games. Pressure is one of those and how you deal with that. Hopefully the guys get really excited by it."


Read confirmed the All Blacks trained extremely hard on Friday, a day which would have featured a light captain's run but for the cancelled game in Toyota City. "It was fun. Today we've been in the gym and setting ourself up for the week ahead. I think we're in pretty good shape."

He also confirmed he had learned a lot from his previous World Cup successes in 2011 and 2015 as far as the knockout phases go.

"The guys that were there in 2015 and a couple of us from 2011, have great fond memories of those experiences. We've been there and done it but for us it's stepping up and each week and tournament is so different. The opposition is always going to be different as well."

All Blacks captain Kieran Read during his press conference at the team's hotel in Tokyo. Photo / Mark Mitchell
All Blacks captain Kieran Read during his press conference at the team's hotel in Tokyo. Photo / Mark Mitchell

From a day of little activity to full noise again, the All Blacks are likely to be full of energy after their unique day of hiding out from Typhoon Hagibis.

"We were probably a little bit removed from some of the pictures we saw here at the hotel," Read said. "We just bunkered down. It was certainly interesting watching through the window what was going on. We just tried to keep ourselves safe. We feel for the Japanese people and those affected because it was pretty serious for a lot of people across this country right now."

He said there was no frustration at not being able to play and add a vital cog to their quarter-final preparation. "We obviously wanted to play but once the decision was made, you have to switch your mindset and we are in a position, aside from something happening in the game that was wrong for us, we would have been here this week.

"I don't think we have seen it is a break. The time between each game is a bit longer and we have trained really well. There is a bit on this game so if we turn up and expect things to happen we will be going home. So I am sure we will be fine.

"If you get to this stage, the eight teams here are capable of winning the competition. Physically, probably mentally, they are all on par. So it is about who can step up int he actual moment, the pressure moment when it does come, when opportunity presents itself. Who wants to take it. It is important you acknowledge that and get ready to take it. I know where I want to end."