Alan Quinlan – Ireland’s Chances In The Rugby World Cup
Ex Ireland and Munster back-rower Alan Quinlan speaks to BoyleSports about Ireland’s chances of winning the Rugby World Cup.
“There’s enough quality in the side to get results”
We can go a long way. ‘Will we go a long way?’ is another question. There’s doubt there. The team have to find form.
It was really encouraging what we saw in the second half against Wales. You can’t get too far ahead of yourself and think that everything is great, but I thought the application, the aggression, the enthusiasm out of the players and their overall energy brought me back to 2018.
It was only a World Cup warm-up game but it helped to remind the players that if they get themselves right, if they get on the front foot, recycle the ball well and be confrontational, that there’s enough quality in the side to get results. Hopefully, we’ll see that.
First and foremost, they can’t take their eye off the ball because Scotland first and then Japan are two really tricky games that they could come unstuck in. So, they’ve got to make sure that they get through those first two.
Russia, with respect, will be an easier fixture for them. You’re not really sure what you’re going to get against Samoa – they could be very dangerous as well. So, if you look too far ahead it’s dangerous.
If they get to a quarter-final, they’ll meet New Zealand or South Africa which will be a really, really difficult path to go. I think if they get there, and they don’t have any injuries and have built up some momentum and form…
they are capable of winning there and maybe getting to a semi-final.
My fingers are crossed, my toes are crossed, everything is crossed that we can get at least to a semi-final.
“They’re in a better position than they were a few weeks ago”
The Irish team are probably in better spirits after the last World Cup warm-up game against Wales. The second half was certainly a lot more encouraging. They can take a lot of confidence and belief from that.
It’s been a very difficult seven or eight months, considering where the team were a year ago. I think they were probably deserving to be number one team in the world, they had that incredible Grand Slam win, a serious win in Australia and they beat New Zealand in November. They got Team of the Year and were in great shape.
They hit a brick wall, though, in the Six Nations. England and Wales outmuscled them and dismantled them and they looked like a team low in confidence. And they didn’t really know how to cope and deal with that.
However, there’s a lot of good players in that team with top quality and experience as well. Certainly they’ll be in a better place and a better position than a number of weeks ago where questions were asked again when England convincingly beat them at Twickenham.
There’s some very good players and they have to build on that.
Maybe they need to go back in memory to what happened in 2018 and hope they can turn that switch on again.
“Hopefully they can cope with the injury profile at the moment”
The injury situation is not ideal. Up to this point, the injury profile of the Irish players has been pretty good.
We’ve seen Wales losing some of their key guys. Gareth Anscombe is a massive loss for them, as is Taulupe Faletau. Two keys players and, luckily, Ireland haven’t had anyone ruled out of the World Cup. Rob Henshaw and Rob Kearney being injured is not ideal. Joey Carberry’s been out for a number of weeks. Keith Earls has a knock as well.
It’s part and parcel of it. I think squad depth is something that’s been mentioned a lot in this group. Going back to the 2015 World Cup when four of five key players were missing for that quarter-final against Argentina. The team just didn’t perform on the day.
A lot of us after the game were speaking about this quality. In Joe Schmidt’s preparation, he will want everyone singing off the same hymn-sheet. There’s a lot of good players there, there’s a lot of quality and experience. Hopefully, they can cope with the injury profile that’s there at the moment and those guys can recover.
But everybody’s going to have to cope with this throughout the tournament.
“The pressure is much different to a Six Nations”
There is an added pressure because it is the World Cup as it’s the biggest tournament and everyone wants to do well there, there’s great excitement.
So, there is pressure and it’s much different to a Six Nations. The team, and all the teams, will have had a lot of preparation. There’s been a big build-up over the summer, a lot of training camps and a lot of preparation goes in.
Sometimes, you do all the right things and it can come unstuck and it doesn’t work out.
When you get there, it has a flavour of Six Nations type rugby. You’ve got to play cup rugby and it’s all about winning. It’s about winning matches and finding a formula that can get you over the line. There’s certain pressure there, there’s no doubt about it.
There’s been disappointments in squads where guys don’t make it. You get in that final 31-man squad and players are chomping at the bit to try and get in the starting team.
It’s a really exciting place for players to be and there’s great excitement and great anticipation if you’re a player going there.