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Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan plans to ignore the hype and treat Saturday’s blockbuster World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand like any other Test match.
Andy Farrell’s men will make history as the first Irish team to progress to the last four of the tournament by downing the three-time champions in Paris.
Ireland’s previous World Cup failures are well documented but Sheehan is among the younger generation of players unburdened by the baggage.
The self-confident 25-year-old feels there is a stronger mentality among the class of 2023 and will not become distracted by the media fanfare surrounding a titanic Stade de France showdown.
“Our mindset is different,” said Sheehan. “I obviously have no experience of earlier squads but the more experienced lads have shared their thoughts on it.
“I think you just treat it like another game.
“It’s knockout rugby, you can build these games up as much as you want but it can end up affecting you if you give it too much attention.
“We need to stick to our preparation, we’ve been doing that for the last three years pretty consistently at a good level.
“In my head and in most of the squad’s heads, it’s going to be pretty much same old Test rugby, you’re in an Irish jersey and you go out and perform.”
Ireland are seeking a record-equalling 18th successive win and have made little secret of their ambition to become world champions.
Farrell’s side have topped the global rankings for more than a year and go into the New Zealand game as favourites.
Sheehan, who only made his international debut in November 2021, has already beaten the All Blacks twice after helping secure last year’s milestone tour triumph and believes Ireland can go all the way in France.
“Growing up, you want to be in these big games,” he said.
“Ireland hasn’t been past these kind of stages so it’s obviously a big motivation to get one up.
“We said at the start of the competition that we want to go the whole way, we think we have the squad to do it.
“We can’t look past tomorrow but the pride of being in this squad, it extends further than me, it goes to family and friends.
“It’s great to bring a bit of enjoyment and pride to the Irish people. Something I always think about is how many people it touches back home.
“It’s great but you can’t really get lost in it. I have a job to do, we have to go out and perform. We can think about that after.”
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