The furthest O'Driscoll was able to get at a World Cup was the quarter-final. Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Bullish BOD backs Ireland to go where no other Irish team has gone before

The legendary centre thinks Joe Schmidt’s men are primed for a strong World Cup showing.

THE SIX NATIONS is finished and Ireland can proudly reflect on their second straight title but the last two campaigns won’t be as warmly remembered if Ireland don’t kick on and reach their potential at the World Cup.

The consensus among people seems to be that a first ever semi-final is an absolute must, and then the team can see where the tournament takes them.

Brian O’Driscoll played at four World Cups for Ireland but never made it to the final four. But speaking on BBC Radio Five Live’s Sportsweek programme, the four-time Lion was confident that Schmidt’s group can be the first Irish team to reach the penultimate stage of the tournament.

“If we can be fortunate with not losing too many players to injury I don’t see why we can’t find ourselves in a semi-final — all bets are off when you get to that point,” O’Driscoll said.

The former Ireland captain has said previously that his big retirement regret is not getting the chance to be a part of a Joe Schmidt World Cup squad and unfortunately for the world’s most capped international, it certainly looks like he will miss out on a memorable campaign.

O’Driscoll also subscribes to the view that losing to Wales might be beneficial to Ireland when they reach the World Cup as there will be slightly less pressure on the team as a result.

“If we had won the Grand Slam, going into the World Cup, there would have been an absolutely insane amount of pressure on the boys,” O’Driscoll said.

“That being said, we’ve won the Six Nations and there’s still going to be that pressure and that level of expectation. But it’s been a little bit tempered by the fact we did lose last week, so hopefully it gives us an opportunity to slip in a fraction more under the radar.”

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