Paul O'Connell: 'Ireland Can Win The World Cup Next Year'
Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell is certain Ireland can win the World Cup next year.
When quizzed on Ireland’s chances by Mario for Mario’s Sunday Roast this week, O’Connell said, ‘They (Ireland) are definitely the second best team right now in the world.
‘I think sometimes in the ranking you can get a little bit lucky, but you look at their record over the last few years against the southern hemisphere teams, they are definitely the second best team in the world.
The former Munster skipper continued, ‘I suppose New Zealand, without a shadow of a doubt, are the best team in the world, and can we beat them on a given day? Certainly we can. Can the other teams around us beat them on a given day? Certainly they can.
‘If you look at South Africa (who won the World Cup in 2007) they might have been ranked number four in the world. They didn’t have to play the teams ranked numbers one, two or three throughout the whole competition, they knocked each other out.
‘I’m not saying we’re going to need that to happen but if we play New Zealand we can certainly beat them and we can beat any of the teams that do beat them as well in the competition.'
When asked if he would consider becoming Ireland’s Head Coach, O’Connell replied, ‘I think you’d have to have a lot of experience to do that job, and you’d need to take a whole lot of steps first,’ adding that if those steps were taken he would one day ‘certainly maybe,’ take the top job in Irish rugby.
Ireland’s third most-capped player was forced to retire early following an injury he sustained during Ireland’s last World Cup bid.
While O’Connell was being stretchered off the pitch he made a small gesture indicating he was ok, which was something O’Connell was forced into doing.
However there's a very important reason why players are asked to do this, ‘I would look at people when they were going off and they would do that little wave. I would always look at them, saying 'why are they doing that?’
‘I had never been stretchered off, that’s the only time… but what they do is, the doctor tells you ‘when the camera comes on you to give a thumbs up for your family who may be watching on TV.’
My doctor said to me ‘Paul when you come on the big screen there you just give the thumbs up for your family at home to let them know you’re fine, that’s why people do that… so I eventually agreed to do it.'
O’Connell says that since retiring he misses having a purpose, ‘We had a great sense of purpose when we were playing, you’re constantly on, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I miss that but I don’t massively miss the game, I had my time, I really didn’t think I’d end up playing until I was 35 so I got as much as I could out of it.’
Catch Mario’s full chat with Paul O’Connell on Mario’s Sunday Roast, this Sunday from 11am.