Eddie O'Sullivan is predicting a comfortable Ireland victory over Scotland in their Rugby World Cup opener on Sunday morning – and says Joe Schmidt’s team can make it to the semi-finals.
Ireland have never made it past the quarter-final at a world cup and if they are to do it this year they will have to beat either New Zealand or South Africa.
Former Ireland head coach O’Sullivan thinks Ireland have the players to take one of those scalps, though for the time being he is more concerned about Scotland.
"It’s in our own hands; we definitely have the players for it if the injuries come right as the tournament goes on," he said, speaking to RTÉ Sport.
"We’re going to play South Africa or New Zealand, but that doesn’t matter at the moment – they’re two very good teams and we should just concentrate on getting out of the group. We need to build momentum and we need a good win against Scotland.
"The back three will be tested, but that won’t be the basis of Scotland’s game – they’ll run and gun. If we bully Scotland like we can, we’ll beat them and we could beat them well. But if they contain us like they did the last time they beat us in the Six Nations, then it gets very tricky for us."
O'Sullivan was speaking as part the panel on RTÉ 2’s Saturday night rugby highlight show alongside former Ireland internationals Fiona Coughlan and Bernard Jackman, who both also predicted victory over Scotland.
"I think Ireland are in a good place and their trajectory is on the up," said Coughlan. "The forwards have to really take it to them, the set piece is obviously very important to Ireland’s attack so they are going to have to get that right.
"There’s a worry over full-back and how Scotland are going to attack is going to be very interesting; will to go wide or will they kick and test us?"
Jackman predicted a ten-point Ireland win, saying: "They might test us early, but they won’t go too far away from the game they have been trying to perfect for the last few years.
"They’ll throw the ball around and defensively we’ll get tested in those channels if we’re narrow. I’m sure we’ll get the job done, but there will be some hairy moments."
RTÉ Sport will televise 14 live matches from Rugby World Cup 2019, including all of Ireland's matches, the knockout stages and a daily highlights show. RTÉ Radio will broadcast all Ireland's matches and you can follow the tournament via RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app.