England World Cup winner Will Greenwood believes that this year's World Cup is the most open that the tournament has ever been and that Ireland could again struggle to get past the quarter-finals.
England host Ireland in a World Cup warm-up game at Twickenham this weekend as both sides continue their preparations for Tokyo.
Ireland have never made it past the quarter-final stage at the tournament and will be up against it if they want to break that sequence in Japan.
Joe Schmidt’s side have been drawn alongside host nation Japan, Russia, Scotland and Samoa in Pool A of the World Cup and should they progress they will most likely face either New Zealand or South Africa.
Greenwood believes that Ireland’s record at the tournament could feature in the players’ thinking and claims that the draw has been unkind to them.
Speaking on 2fm’s Game On, he said: "I know I’m talking to an Irish radio station here and I’m wary of saying it, but you can’t get past a quarter-final. You know that and the players know that.
"I think there’s a different mentality with Schmidt and this whole crowd but the only thing I’m looking at however is you lot are pooled with New Zealand and South Africa.
"So whether you win the group or come second, you’re going to play one of the hot favourites to win the World Cup. You’re not getting it easy are you?
"It’s such a tough tournament to win now, I think it’s stratosphere harder than it was in 1999 or even in 2003, there were only four teams that could win it then.
"Now I think you have an argument to say there are seven or eight. If anyone could predict the four semi-final teams in the correct order, pick the group winners and the quarter-final winners, I think you’re a better man than me."
Greenwood is pleased his side’s preparation for the World Cup, despite last week’s defeat to Wales and he feels that they could cause a few upsets in Japan.
"We’re in good shape, no-one’s getting over-excited and I’m not tipping England to win this World Cup but I do believe that whoever beats England, I’d be backing heavily to win the thing."
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