Ronan O’Gara on the one key concern he still has about Ireland at the World Cup
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Ireland’s 2023 Rugby World Cup campaign couldn’t have gotten off to a better start, with Andy Farrell’s side three from three so far in the pool stages of the competition.
They’ve secured bonus-point wins over Romania and Tonga, and even beaten reigning world champions South Africa, as they get set for their final pool game with Scotland.
A win next week would likely set them up with a quarter-final fixture against New Zealand, but legendary former Ireland international Ronan O’Gara is still worried about their Rugby World Cup mentality.
Ireland have never gotten past the quarter-final stages of the competition and O’Gara thinks that’s still gonna be a massive hurdle for the men in green, despite their excellent run of form.
“Is it Ireland’s time? Everyone in Ireland hopes so,” he told The Breakdown.
“I think they’ve got a fantastic manager in Andy Farrell, who is doing an amazing job, but pressure becomes different when it becomes knockout footy,”
“I played in three World Cups. We had a chance to beat Wales in Wellington in the quarter-final and that would have got rid of the hoodoo of getting to a semi-final.
“Sometimes you don’t realise how good the opportunity in front of you is and you don’t take it. It’s four years gone and you’re back to the drawing board, but that’s sport, that’s why we love it, that’s why we get frustrated with it, but that’s why we keep going.
“You’ve got some seriously impressive teams with deep pedigree.”
And with that, O’Gara still believes France are favourites to win the competition outright, but he still thinks Ireland have an excellent chance of winning.
“I think it’s difficult to look beyond France winning the World Cup. I just think with home advantage, with so many X-factor players,” he added.
“But there’s always hope for the other teams, if it’s a night where they’re not feeling it and they might be a little bit moody.
“South Africa, Ireland and after that I would probably say New Zealand, they’re the four who I think can win it.”