Lawrence Dallaglio has backed Ireland to reach the World Cup semi-finals at the very least.
England legend Dallaglio says he has been hugely impressed by Ireland’s progress since Joe Schmidt took charge and believes the New Zealander’s tactical nous is the best of any coach at the tournament.
And in a thorough endorsement of Ireland under Schmidt, Dallaglio says they have one of the best packs in the game and the perfect half-back pairing in Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton.
Crucially, Dallaglio also says the draw will help Ireland as they face Canada and Romania in their opening two games before taking on Italy and France. Win those and a quarter-final with Argentina is likely, with Dallaglio adamant they would win that comfortable.
“All the home nations will have expectations to different degrees, and Ireland’s expectations have risen considerably because of the results they have had,” he said.
“They have beaten Australia and the Springboks in Dublin so they have that confidence of being able to win.
“Their Pool draw is favourable, not least because there is a natural trajectory to where they need to peak.
“They play Canada, then Romania and I don’t think they will have any problems with those sides.
“It is all about how they use their squad. If they get their best 15 players on the field they will be a handful for anyone.
“Their pack can take on the best in the world and they have a very, very good 9-10 in terms of game management, and personally I believe that tactically they have one of the best coaches in the world.
And Dallaglio has backed them to reach their first ever World Cup final if they find themselves facing a team from Pool A – the Pool of Death.
He added: “If Ireland play to their potential they will look at that fixture list and think ‘we can get to a semi-final and be playing England, Wales or Auastralia’.
“Against any of those they would fancy their chances.”
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