Positives: If you want to know how good the Irish potentially are then all you need to do is watch their Six Nations Championship victory over the English. In that game the Irish showed forward power through props Cian Healy and Mike Ross that destroyed their English counterparts.
Paul O’Connell has shown a return to form while Ireland boast a fine back row containing the powerful Jamie Heaslip, wily David Wallace and Sean O’Brien, the standout player of the Six Nations for Ireland. Add in the returning Stephen Ferris and the Irish have plenty of options in the back row.
In the backs, Eoin Reddan will provide quick service; Jonathan Sexton will bring a big game mentality that saw him guide Leinster to Heineken Cup glory this year while Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll will bring experience and class to the centres. Tommy Bowe will be out to show the kind of form he showed in the 2009 Grand Slam while Rob Kearney’s return is a huge boost.
Negatives: On their day, the Irish are sublime. The problem is they rarely play to their potential. Their main problem appears to be the frustratingly high amount of penalties to give away killing their momentum and letting the opposition back into games they have dominated.
The Irish have a tendency to ’go missing’ in games which was shown best in their defeat by France last Saturday when they started strongly but allowed the French to get back into game and dominate.
Front row depth is also a problem, should Healy and Ross get injured, you wonder who would fill in.
Chances: Ireland will fancy their chances of upsetting Australia as they nearly managed eight years ago but you would think Australia would probably win that game. Italy will be a threat, they nearly beat Ireland in Rome this year and if the Irish are complacent, they could find themselves on the end of an upset.
Ireland could face South Africa in the Quarter Finals and could upset them too but again, you’d have to favour the Southern Hemisphere side.