Former All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen says Ireland have to prove they're not 'chokers' at the Rugby World Cup.
Andy Farrell's side completed an historic Grand Slam by seeing off England at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
But the former New Zealand boss says the top ranked side in the world need to back up that achievement in France later this year.
“Every time a team is number one in the world, you’ve got to consider them to be a World Cup contender – but it’s a tough tournament to win, and they were number one going into the last one, weren’t they?" said the former World Cup winner.
"So, they’ve seemed to struggle a little bit at World Cups. If it was the All Blacks, they’d probably be called ‘chokers’.
“Ireland were good throughout the Six Nations. In that final game they started off a bit shaky and England rattled them a bit, but once the red card came it was game over and they were good enough to take advantage of it.
“But they’ve come a long way, they believe in themselves, and they’re a very good side, so they’re definitely a contender. But they’ll have to overcome the pressure of not having gone past the quarter-finals before, and there’ll be a lot of pressure involved in that.
“If they get through to the semi-finals, then they’re in new territory. That’s something they’ll have to deal with that they’ve never dealt with before, and it’s always hard to deal with something you haven’t dealt with before.”
The current All Blacks coach Ian Foster has also been watching the Six Nations and was full of praise for both France and Ireland.
“Both playing really well," he says. Six Nations is a great tournament. A lot of atmosphere around it. If you look at France particularly, they started out slow having a loss to Ireland and the first three games probably didn’t hit their straps but certainly at Twickenham and against Wales they are a team on the up.
“Looks to me like they only have one goal and that’s to play well later in the year. Very passionate country behind them. Amazing how much France is excited about this World Cup coming up. It’s going to be huge.
“Ireland just continue doing what they’re doing. They’re playing really efficient rugby, they’re big in the big moments of the game and we saw that again against a pretty rejuvenated England team who showed a lot of spirit. Ireland came back really clinical in that last quarter.”