Ireland have a better chance of progressing to a maiden World Cup semi-final if they face the All Blacks in the quarter-finals rather than the Springboks according to legendary centre Brian O’Driscoll.
Grouped in Pool A, Ireland are on a collision course with one of the two southern hemisphere superpowers New Zealand or South Africa in the quarter-finals.
The All Blacks were inconsistent in the Rugby Championship as were Ireland in the Six Nations, while the Springboks will head into World Cup as the only unbeaten tier-one nation in this calendar year and high in confidence.
Former Ireland talisman O’Driscoll believes coach Joe Schmidt’s men have a better chance of staying in the title race if they avoid the Springboks in the last eight match and instead come up against the defending champion All Blacks.
‘With a small bit of nervousness [I’d say] New Zealand because of the power game that South Africa can play,’ O’Driscoll said.
‘And I’d be nervous about how we could do with that [power game] because England have shown the blueprint of how to go after Ireland over the course of the last seven or eight months.
‘The wind was definitely taken out of Ireland’s sails by England then again by Wales in the Six Nations and we just haven’t got back to the lofty heights of some of the rugby we’ve played over the last 18 months,’ he added.
The Springbok rejuvenation has pleased the 40-year-old, who accumulated more than 130 caps in the famous green jumper.
‘It’s good to see from a World Rugby perspective to see the Springboks back and strong,’ said O’Driscoll.
‘We need our superpowers back strong for the strength of the game and not just have it as New Zealand’s cup to lose.’
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