Ireland has stumbled several times over the quarter-final hurdle of a World Cup tournament and never got back up.
But according to a former captain, things could turn out differently for Johnny Sexton’s team this year.
The Irish easily finished with Tonga and Romania in the group stage rounds of the World Cup tournament in France, while they won a tough game against South Africa in Paris.
However, it is their latest win of 36 – 14 against Scotland that makes Brian O’Driscoll sit up.
“The match against Scotland was an excellent team performance. They were accurate and their interplay sent a clear warning to their opponents in the play-offs,” said the former quarterback.
Ireland will play in a quarter-final of the rugby spectacle against New Zealand at the Stade de France on Saturday and O’Driscoll believes that the All Blacks will have to come out and show if they want to beat the Northern Hemisphere team.
Even though the Kiwis overcame the Irish 46 – 14 in Japan four years ago.
“The nerves will of course be gnawing, but we are now a much better team than then. In 2019 we lost because we followed the same recipe for several years and our opponents were smart enough to work out the game plan. Now our game pattern has adapted to the changing times in rugby and our defense is also significantly better.”
Another former captain, Rory Best, believes that Ireland can play even better in the play-offs.
“One gets the feeling that the team can switch to an even higher gear. “Everyone is staring at our poor World Cup performances against New Zealand, but I believe we are the favorites to win the game,” Best said.
Ireland and New Zealand play in Paris on Saturday at 21:00. The action will be broadcast live on SuperSport.
Ireland’s performances at World Cups:
1999: Quarter-final play-offs (a unique phenomenon at this World Cup)
2007: Group stage