Johnny Sexton says Ireland are not thinking beyond their next game against Scotland as they seek to avoid a repeat of previous World Cup failures.
Saturday’s 13-8 win over South Africa left the Irish within touching distance of a quarter-final spot, likely against either France or New Zealand.
The Ireland captain emphasised there will be no complacency in the camp.
“We are not talking about being champions, we are talking about the next game,” said Sexton.
Ireland’s opening victories over Romania and Tonga in Pool B were followed by that hard-earned win over the Springboks in an enthralling game in Paris.
Yet, despite defeating the defending champions, rugby’s top-ranked nation could still be denied a spot in the knockout stages by the Scots.
Experienced fly-half Sexton, who has suffered last-eight exits at his previous three World Cups, says his side cannot get ahead of themselves.
“Now it’s all about Scotland. We’re not thinking about anything beyond that.
“Scotland are an excellent team. I think that they would be frustrated about how they played against South Africa [an 18-3 loss on September 10].
“It’s all geared up towards that game now and making sure that we do what’s required to try and win the pool.
“But we can’t look beyond the next game. This competition will hurt you, that’s the biggest lesson we can take from the last few World Cups.”
‘Feeling big game intensity’
Ireland return to Stade de France on 7 October to take on Gregor Townsend’s side after seeing off South Africa.
Head coach Andy Farrell believes the narrow win from a bruising encounter on Saturday is ideal preparation for future challenges.
“Let’s be honest, it’s wonderful to win, but there was not much in it between two good sides,” said Farrell.
“I think the best thing about it for us is we get to feel the intensity of a big game within this World Cup and know what that feels like for further down the line.
“How we are able to be a little bit more composed, be a little bit more accurate and play our game a little bit more. It’s invaluable to be able to learn those lessons with a win.
“But what I would say is when you love defending as much as we did within that game, it stands us in good stead as far as our want and our fight for the rest of competition.”