Brian O'Driscoll: Ireland to beat England in semi-final but All Blacks to retain World Cup
Irish rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll is predicting that his former team-mates will reach the World Cup Final, but believes the reigning champions New Zealand will retain their trophy.
The All Blacks go into the tournament as favourites and should Richie McCaw lift the William Webb Ellis trophy, they will become the first side to ever retain the World Cup after conquering the French on home soil four years ago.
Joe Schmidt's Ireland will be quietly confident of reaching at least a place in the semi-finals, something the country has never achieved before.
Successive defeats in the World Cup warm-ups may have dampened expectations somewhat, but back-to-back Six Nations titles ensures that the squad is confident of going far.
Pool C is likely to be decided in final fixture against France and are unbeaten in their last four tussles with Les Bleus. Victory should avoid a clash with the All Blacks in the last eight, with Argentina the more likely opponents.
Ireland's record try scorer O'Driscoll expects hosts England to see off Australia and set-up a semi-final date with neighbours Ireland for a place in the final.
"I'm saying an Ireland/England semi-final and Ireland/New Zealand final, with Ireland to lose," he told KICCA.com.