ROB KEARNEY claims Ireland have the ability to "beat any team in the world" and says Declan Kidney's squad should travel to the World Cup in New Zealand with the belief that they can win it.
The Leinster full-back, who has been out of action with a knee injury since November, is convinced Ireland are heading in the right direction and is bullish about their prospects at a tournament where they flopped so spectacularly in 2007.
"I think we can beat any team in the world," said Kearney, who did not make the World Cup squad in 2007.
"What went on in the last World Cup, who knows? Sometimes things happen in sport that you just can't explain and I think that was one of them.
"I think you still need to go over with the approach that you can win it. As players we would be doing an injustice to ourselves first and foremost if our goal was just the quarter-final. I genuinely think we're good enough."
Kearney had a scope on his knee this week and is happy with his rehabilitation progress, setting his sights on Leinster's Heineken Cup quarter-final showdown with Leicester in April.
"The scope went alright, it was a scheduled one," he added. "It's the sort of thing that you could only see the growth of the cartilage behind the knee, it wouldn't show in a scan or anything, you could only tell from the scope. It's growing back, it's getting there, the hard part is over now. So, the quarter-final is my aim, that's the best-case scenario.
"It all depends on the surgeon, you have to trust him. Usually with small injuries that you pick up here or there, your ankle or whatever, you can play through the pain -- I've done that quite a bit in the past. But with a serious injury like this, you have to get it exactly right so it's not a career one."