Paul O'Connell: Ireland can beat All Blacks on any given day and win World Cup

Ireland and Munster rugby legend Paul O'Connell is in no doubt that this Irish team have what it takes to win the World Cup next year.

He believes that Ireland have earned their current world number two ranking at through hard work over the last number of years with luck having little to do with it.

"I think sometimes in the ranking you can get a little bit lucky, but you look at their record over the last few years against the southern hemisphere teams, they are definitely the second best team in the world."

Speaking to Today FM presenter Mario Rosenstock, O'Connell said: "I suppose New Zealand, without a shadow of a doubt, are the best team in the world, and can we beat them on a given day? Certainly, we can.

"Can the other teams around us beat them on a given day? Certainly, they can...but if we play New Zealand we can certainly beat them and we can beat any of the teams that do beat them as well in the competition."

Speaking on this week's Mario's Sunday Roast, O'Connell pointed to 2007 World Cup winners South Africa who were ranked fourth in the world at the time but avoided playing the top three teams as they had knocked each other out.

"I'm not saying we're going to need that to happen," the former Munster captain said.

It was during Ireland's last World Cup bid that O'Connell suffered what would be a career-ending injury.

Ireland's third most-capped player, it was the only time in his career that O'Connell had to be stretchered off the pitch.

As he was carried off, he was asked to give a wave to indicate that he was alright. A gesture often made by players but one that O'Connell had not understood the reason for.

"I would look at people when they were going off and they would do that little wave. I would always look at them, saying 'why are they doing that?'

"My doctor said to me 'Paul when you come on the big screen there you just give the thumbs up for your family at home to let them know you're fine', that's why people do I eventually agreed to do it."

Although he misses aspects of life as a rugby player, the former British and Irish Lion says that he doesn't necessarily miss the game itself.

"We had a great sense of purpose when we were playing, you're constantly on, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"I miss that but I don't massively miss the game, I had my time, I really didn't think I'd end up playing until I was 35 so I got as much as I could out of it."

Currently working as the forwards coach with the Ireland U20s team, O'Connell is not making a play for the job of Ireland's Head Coach just yet.

"I think you'd have to have a lot of experience to do that job, and you'd need to take a whole lot of steps first," he said.

If those steps were taken O'Connell said that he would "certainly maybe" take the job one day.

You can listen to the full interview with Paul O'Connell on Mario's Sunday Roast on Today FM this Sunday from 11am.

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