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Ireland eye win for extra day off, not to avoid All Blacks

Ireland can avoid a likely quarter-final against world champions New Zealand, a team they’ve never beaten.

FILE: Ireland flyhalf Jonathan Sexton kicks the ball during a Pool D match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup between Ireland and Italy at the Olympic Stadium, east London, on 4 October 2015. Picture: AFP.

CARDIFF - Ireland can avoid a likely quarter-final against world champions New Zealand, a team they have never beaten, and instead face an Argentine side they have overcome five times in a row with a pool-topping win over France on Sunday.

But for Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, the prospect of an extra day's break and playing again in a week's time rather than a day earlier against an All Blacks side on eight days rest is the real prize at stake in the physical slog of a Rugby World Cup.

"The greatest reason is to get another day before we have to play again to be honest. It just allows a little bit more breathing space to be slightly better prepared and slightly better recovered," Schmidt told a news conference on Friday.

"That would be the major reason because I don't think anyone, based on their performances so far, could underestimate the Argentinean team, and not just the personnel they've got but the collective they've demonstrated on the pitch."

Ireland have been relatively lucky with the draw so far with seven and eight day turnarounds between their Pool D matches while some teams have had four days between games and others including France this time around have had up to 10.

With the Schmidt game plan that has delivered to Six Nations championships in two years built on accuracy and trying to make every fine margin count, an extra day in camp could be significant for the Irish.

It would also be particularly welcome after this weekend's "monster occasion" and an expected brutal day at the office against Mathieu Bastareaud and the physical French, according to returning Irish fullback Rob Kearney.

"We'll all feel horrific on Sunday morning, Saturday night going to bed is not enjoyable," Kearney told reporters.

"That one day is massive, it may only seem like 24 hours but in the grand scheme, it is quite a lot. It just gives you that opportunity to get your own clarity and do your analysis on the opposition. It's a great prize for the pool winner."