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O'Connell: We have game to win World Cup

IRISH captain Paul O'Connell says Joe Schmidt's men can overcome the obstacles of history and having less strength in depth than New Zealand, Australia and South Africa and win the World Cup.

"We certainly have a chance," said O'Connell. "We have shown that we can beat anyone on our day.

"We still don't have the strength in depth of the southern hemisphere nations, so there are certain things that will have to go our way - but I think we have the potential to win a World Cup," he added.

The Munster second-row highlighted the ability of head coach Schmidt, who led Ireland to the Six Nations title and victories over South Africa and Australia in his first full year in charge, as one of the key reasons for an Irish success.

"Joe is an excellent coach and an excellent strategist," said O'Connell.

"He is a brilliant communicator too. We are all trying to do the same things on the rugby field but Joe is able to simplify it and able to get players into the right places on the field where they can use their skillset.

"It is brilliant working with him. Every meeting and every training session we learn something new, and you could almost be jealous that Leinster had him for so long.

"The Irish set-up under Joe has been incredible and I want to experience as much of that as I can."

The 2015 World Cup will be the fourth to be staged in Europe since England were hosts for the first time in 1991.

Favourites and holders, New Zealand, have not enjoyed the best fortune in the northern hemisphere while on World Cup duty, missing out on an appearance in the final each time they have ventured to Europe.

In contrast both of the Wallabies' World Cup triumphs have come north of the equator while South Africa became champions for a second time after their victory over England in Paris in 2007.


However, All Black legend Richie McCaw insists New Zealand, who begin their campaign against Argentina at Wembley Stadium, are relishing the prospect of playing in England.

"A World Cup in the UK is hugely exciting. I love going to play Test matches in the UK at the end of each year and with 80,000 odd people in the stadiums, it is always a fantastic atmosphere to play in. The tournament in New Zealand in 2011 was special because it was small and compact but to play in the stadiums in the UK in 2015 I think will be a great experience.

"There's a big rugby following in the UK and Europe so I've no doubt there will be millions of people getting into the tournament.

"I'm looking forward to the six or seven weeks of what will be an incredible competition."