Danny Cipriani: If Irish mentality is right, Joe Schmidt can lead Ireland to World Cup glory
England's Danny Cipriani believes that Ireland possess the ability to win the World Cup, but need to ensure they are mentally switched during pressure moments during the tournament.
The out-half was omitted from Stuart Lancaster's initial 31-man England squad but has said he is preparing as if he will be involved. The 27-year-old is just one injury from being thrust into the limelight and in his Paddy Power blog has been running the rule over the contenders for the William Webb Ellis trophy.
The Sale out-half argues that there are up to eight teams with serious aspirations of winning and "it will be about who delivers on the day". Speaking about Ireland, he was effusive in his praise of the Six Nations champions and head coach Joe Schmidt.
Cipriani seems unconcerned with below-par performances in the World Cup warm-up games which saw Ireland lose in their last two outings to Wales and England, suggesting they are keeping some of their game plan in reserve.
"We haven’t seen all Ireland have to offer," he writes in his Paddy Power blog.
"Joe Schmidt strikes me as one of those coaches that always has something up his sleeve. They’ve got the talent all over the field. Johnny Sexton controls things so well, Conor Murray is one of the best nines in the world and then there’s a formidable pack.
"When you combine technical ability with clever coaching and add in a bit of flair, you’ve got a team capable of winning a World Cup – 100%.
"Now they need to get the mentality right and perform when it matters."
Not surprisingly Cipriani is expecting big things from the reigning champions New Zealand. The out-half has faced the All Blacks on three occasions and is still waiting for his first taste of victory.
"What stood out to me is their skill set and their ability to execute skills under immense pressure. They know how to commit defenders, create one on ones and once they do that, they nearly always punish you. The number of world class players they have across the pitch also helps! There’s no fear factor when it comes to playing them.
"The Haka gets me going as much as it does them. They just have a Barcelona-type ability to grind it out.
"It may seem like look, but they only get that luck because they’ve worked hard enough to get themselves in the position to take advantage."