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Top spot still ultimate aim as Irish stun New Zealand

Green dream:
Ireland celebrate
their superb victory

IRELAND will be boosted by the prospect of taking rugby’s world No.1 ranking off New Zealand, says Luke McGrath.

Joe Schmidt’s men beat the back-to-back world champions 16-9 in Dublin on Saturday, for just their second-ever victory over the All Blacks.

New Zealand have retained their status as the sport’s top dogs despite losing to second-placed Ireland, though All Blacks boss Steve Hansen believes the Irish are now the globe’s best team.

Ireland coach Schmidt dismissed Hansen rating his side better than New Zealand as kidology, while scrum-half McGrath insisted Saturday’s victors are not getting carried away.

‘It’s a great day for us but we know we have still got a lot of work to do,’ said the Leinster No.9.

‘So it’s big for us to win but it’s also great for us that we’ve still got them to chase. New Zealand are so consistent all the time, and that’s the challenge we need to get to.’

Meanwhile, Hansen admitted he is surprised England let Andy Farrell leave their coaching staff. The defence coach masterminded Ireland’s superlative rearguard action in Dublin as they became the first Test nation since France in 1995 to keep New Zealand tryless.

Farrell plotted another try shut-out against New Zealand in the British & Irish Lions’ 24-21 second Test win in Wellington in 2017 having been sacked by England, along with head coach Stuart Lancaster, after failing to negotiate the group stages of the 2015 World Cup.

A recent bid to bring Farrell back into boss Eddie Jones’ current set-up failed and Hansen said: ‘Coaches move around a lot so whilst I am surprised [England let him go] I am not surprised.

‘I know they tried to get him back. Obviously they recognise something we all recognise, he’s good at what he does.’

Farrell is favourite to replace Schmidt if the Ireland boss returns to his native New Zealand after the 2019 World Cup.