Timmins backs Ireland to turn tables on French
The build-up has been tough for Mike Ruddock and his Ireland U-20 side as they prepare for their first game at this year's Junior World Cup.
Ruddock was dealt a cruel blow when influential captain Dan Leavy was ruled out of the tournament, and then stand-in skipper Sean O'Brien was consigned to the same fate having failed to recover from an ankle injury.
The injury problems aside, Ireland face a huge task if they are to emerge from a pool that includes France, Wales and Fiji, which is why the players with past World Cup experience will be vital.
One of those is Leinster's Peadar Timmins. The back-row featured in the World Cup campaign in France last year as well as in the Six Nations this season.
Reflecting on his experience of both competitions, Timmins says that the two are incomparable for several reasons.
"There is a huge difference. For a start there's the turnaround between games. There's only four or five-day gaps between them and we only have a limited amount of players out there," he says.
"It's very tough on the body so it's really an absolute 28-man effort when you go to the World Cup.
"It's impossible to have players going for 80 minutes over five games within the space of 24 or 25 days so it's very taxing on the body and you really have to be in peak physical condition when you go out there.
"The pace in the World Cup is much faster as well. The Six Nations is one thing but going to the World Cup is the pinnacle of any player's career.
"The intensity of games is a step up again. With the demands of the game, the crowd, the atmosphere, everything, it's just amazing – a dream come true for any player."
Ireland's task is to ensure that the dream doesn't turn into a nightmare as they play without several first-choice players against two sides (France and Wales) who have already beaten them this year.
But Timmins is adamant that his side are capable of upsetting the odds in New Zealand.
"The Wales game was a massive disappointment for us this year," he says.
"It's great to have a chance of going back out to try to redeem yourself against them, especially when you believe there is a bit more in the tank that wasn't necessarily shown in the Six Nations.
"The World Cup is really a chance for this team to go out and show what it is made of."
Ireland kick off their campaign against France on Monday and their sole focus is on that game, given the uphill task that they will face if they don't get off to a winning start.
"It's a cruel competition in that if you lose one game then you're pretty much out of it straight away, so every game is a cup final for us," Timmins acknowledges.
"This first game is something we've been waiting for, we'll be raring to go.
"We've been waiting to have another crack at them since the Six Nations.
"We really believe we're as good as them and that we have as good a chance as any to get to the semi-final for the first time."