Ireland out-half Jonathan Sexton believes that this Saturday’s World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand is the biggest and most exciting game the squad have ever faced (LIVE on eir sport 1 from 10.30am).
"It's the biggest. In that regard, it's the most exciting. We said it after Samoa. We said no matter who we play, it'll be the biggest game of our lives,” he said.
"You feel it when you wake up this morning and your mind goes straight to the game. Sleep will probably be a challenge this week.
"It's where you want to be when you were a kid. My first memory of watching Ireland in the World Cup was against New Zealand. I think I was in Bective.
"It's where you want to challenge yourself. And it's where we can create something a little bit special. Back home, I'm sure the country will go mad on Saturday morning. I can't wait for it."
Ireland have never reached the last four of a World Cup, having suffered defeat in all six quarter-finals they have played. This includes 2011 and 2015 against Wales and Argentina respectively where Ireland went in as pre-match favourites.
However, while there were joyous scenes following the victory over France in their final pool game in 2015, Sexton says that the mood is very different this time around.
"We finished the pool (against Samoa) and you saw the difference in celebration between the last World Cup and this one,” he said.
“The guys were very emotional in the last World Cup after winning the pool game.
"Whereas I think we're just business as usual. This is where we've always wanted to get to. Where we feel that this is the little bit of history we can make.
“Getting Ireland to their first ever semi-final - then we can re-evaluate after that."
While Ireland had been expected to win their pool and avoid a clash with the All Blacks, defeat to Japan in their second game put paid to that.
However, Sexton revealed that he was always unconcerned about who they played in the last eight.
"New Zealand, South Africa? For us, it was much the same,” he added.
“They both pose different challenges. Two world class teams - we knew either fixture was going to be really tough and we're looking forward to it."
***Watch ALL FOUR RWC 2019 quarter-finals on eir sport this weekend.