Former Australia captain Michael Lynagh believes Ireland are potential dark horses for next year’s World Cup.
And he believes that Saturday’s November International against the Wallabies will give a good indication of their potential.
And Lynagh — this week inducted into the Hall of Fame at the IRB World Cup Conference in London — said the Dublin clash has brought back memories of one of his greatest days in an Australian jersey.
That came in the 1991 World Cup quarter-final, when Ireland seemed poised for victory after Gordon Hamilton dived over to give them the lead in the closing minutes.
But then Australia, led superbly by Lynagh, produced a dazzling finish, to snatch victory and leave their hosts shell-shocked and shattered.
“We were gone and had we lost that, we were home and our World Cup was over. So it was a real turning point for us as a team, but also for me as an individual.
“I was the leader of that team out on the pitch — we didn’t have the input from coaches or anything like that, like they do now.
“To make decisions on the pitch and then for the team to follow that through, for me, that was what rugby is all about.
“Those four minutes is what rugby is all about. It was my best moment, the best passage of play, and I will never forget it.”
He has been impressed by Ireland under Joe Schmidt and believes Ireland could be amongst those contending at the business end of next year’s World Cup.
“The way they are playing, they have some nice young players coming through, that win against South Africa, that was pretty good because they were strong in the first half but Ireland forced them into a lot of errors.
“Ireland defended very well, they were smart in the way they defended. Then came back and in the second half they were outstanding so they are a good team, they are a very strong team. With young players and a bit of confidence they are going in the right direction.”
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