Sunday 17 November 2019

Brian O'Driscoll: Ireland can reach a World Cup semi-final; then it's a lottery

Brian O'Driscoll's says a World Cup semi-final is a a real possibility for Joe Schmidt's Ireland.
Brian O'Driscoll's says a World Cup semi-final is a a real possibility for Joe Schmidt's Ireland. Newsdesk Newsdesk

Brian O'Driscoll believes a place in the last four of the World Cup is the least of the ambitions of Ireland ahead of this year's World Cup after their Six Nations success.

The former Ireland captain says that championship win in Scotland will give a  huge boost going into the World Cup and that missing out on  Grand Slam may be a blessing in disguise.

Joe Schmidt's side rebounded from defeat in Cardiff that put paid to any Grand Slam ambitions to record a 30-point victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.

With England falling short in their 26-poiunt target against France, it meant a second successive Six Nations title and O'Driscoll says that the additional silverware will add to the self-belief in the squad.

“I think it sets us up really well,” O’Driscoll told BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme.

“You always look at positives in any loss — the defeat to Wales might be a blessing in disguise. In Ireland we don’t do middle ground: we’re either top of the pile or bottom of the heap.

“If we had won the Grand Slam, going into the World Cup, there would have been an absolutely insane amount of pressure on the boys.

“That being said, we’ve won the Six Nations and there’s still going to be that pressure and that level of expectation.

“But it’s been a little bit tempered by the fact we did lose last week, so hopefully it gives us an opportunity to slip in a fraction more under the radar.

“We’re playing with a huge amount of confidence, we’ve got a very distinct understanding of what our strategy is and what our game plan is, and everyone’s singing off the same hymn sheet.

The former Leinster stalwart says that a place in the last four is well within the reach of the current crop of players, something never before achieved by Ireland.

“If we can be fortunate with not losing too many players to injury I don’t see why we can’t find ourselves in a semi-final — all bets are off when you get to that point.”

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