Ahead of the Rugby Union World Cup, ex-Australia coach Robbie Deans has said that Ireland can win the tournament, and that the team is ideally placed to take home the coveted trophy right now.
“Ireland are absolutely one of the sides in contention for the World Cup,” Deans said.
“This is going to be a great World Cup. There’s more uncertainty in terms of the ultimate winner than there’s ever been. And there are more sides capable of getting onto the podium than ever before, and that’s great for the game.
“Joe Schmidt has started really well at Test level,” he continued, speaking about the New Zealander.
“Ireland are very well-placed I think right now; the timing of this World Cup is good for them. They’ve got a good nucleus of experience, and they’ve shown there’s no one in the world they can’t beat, and that includes the All Blacks.
“They are very well-placed and Joe’s played a big part in that. One of the biggest challenges will be that they will want to suffocate us,” added Deans, now coach of the Japanese side Panasonic Wild Knights.
“And they won’t want to give us too many scraps, they will make us work very hard just to get our hands on the ball. So we’ll have to make the most of the opportunities we get. In terms of their game they are a very ambitious with their style of play.”
Ireland are likely to be one of the favourites to win the tournament and fans can get great odds as the competition draws nearer.
“They have a well-structured, well-organised game but they do create a lot of stress in set-piece position, and then they go hard at the line; they want to dent the line in order to be able to run off it.”
Ireland centre Gordon D’Arcy, meanwhile, has confirmed that he will retire after the World Cup to spend more time with family.
“It is a decision that I have not come to lightly but one that sits very easily with me and indeed with my wife, Aoife, and we are confident I am making the decision for the right reasons,” said Darcy.
“I am so proud, fortunate and honoured to have represented my province and country for 17 seasons but I am leaving on my terms which is how everyone would wish to end their professional rugby careers.
“Throughout it all, I have been honoured to have played with an array of talented players, be coached by great coaches and to have played for the best supporters in the world,” he continued.
“It has always been an honour to represent my country. I hope to continue that over the coming months and help to achieve something with this very special group of players and staff at the Rugby World Cup.”